Eva has never felt like she belonged… not in her own family or with her friends in New York City, and certainly not at a fancy boarding school like Hardwick Preparatory Academy. So when she is invited to join the Fives, an elite secret society, she jumps at the opportunity to finally be a part of something.
But what if the Fives are about more than just having the best parties and receiving special privileges from the school? What if they are also responsible for keeping some of Hardwick’s biggest secrets buried?
There is only one reason why Connie would volunteer to be one of the six students to participate in testing Hardwick’s nuclear fallout shelter: Craig Allenby. While the thought of nuclear war sends her into a panic, she can’t pass up the opportunity to spend four days locked in with the school’s golden boy. However, Connie and the other students quickly discover that there is more to this “test” than they previously thought. As they are forced to follow an escalating series of commands, Connie realizes that one wrong move could have dangerous consequences.
Separated by sixty years , Eva’s and Connie’s stories become inextricably intertwined as Eva unravels the mystery of how six students went into the fallout shelter all those years ago . . . but only five came out.
Thank you to Harper 360 for an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! Also, happy release day to this one!
Wow. This book was screwed up.
Don’t Breathe a Word follows two girls sixty years apart, at the same boarding school. It’s 1962, and Connie is one of six students to stay in the nuclear fallout shelter in the boarding school. In present day, Eva is new to the school and is invited to join the Fives, an elite society within the school. But throughout her story, she finds out more about Connie’s experience in 1962 and why only Five people come out of the nuclear fallout shelter…
I enjoyed a lot about this book. It was intriguing, thrilling and honestly really creepy in places. I did not expect this one to be quite as creepy as it was and it did make my skin crawl. I loved the dark academia atmosphere of the school and the murder that happened in 1962. The setting of the school was really interesting and I could picture the school and the surroundings well. I also enjoyed the multiple POV, which switched between Eva and Connie and between 1962 and present day. Flicking back and forth between them felt like a good balance but also kept me hooked on both of their stories.
But unfortunately, something just fell a bit flat for me with this book as a whole. I can’t pinpoint exactly what made me feel this way, but I just thought it was missing something. I think part of this was the lack of intrigue and intensity. Due to the nature of what happened to Connie, nobody is particularly pinpointed, and took out a whodonnit element that I was kind of craving. I think due to the lack of this element, I wasn’t quite as gripped as I was hoping to be.
I also didn’t feel quite as connected to the main characters as I wanted to, and I felt like I was missing out on big parts of their lives. Particularly Eva, who appears in this book more than Connie. I didn’t realise until near the end of the book that Eva talks about her family in a particular way that is not really explored at length within the book or is backed up by any discussions she has with the reader.
I have to also drop a mention to the fact that I just don’t understand some of the logic in this book. Some of the decisions the characters made really infuriated me and made me want to throw the book at the wall. However, naivety does play a big part in some of these decisions and the characters do come to realisations throughout the book. Also, it is worth noting that some of the stuff that happens is just super screwed up. I won’t talk about this in detail, but be prepared to be a bit taken aback by some of the elements of this one.
Overall, this was super interesting and I found the topic intriguing. I loved the idea of it but some of the way it played out let me down a little. I may sound a bit negative throughout this review, but I did still enjoy this book a lot and I would still recommend this one if you are interested in it!
3.5 out of 5 stars
May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽