Review: Message Not Found by Dante Medema

Goodreads | Waterstones

Bailey and Vanessa shared everything: laughter, secrets, and packets of Pop Rocks to ward off bad days. But that all changed the night Vanessa left Bailey’s, headed for home, and ended up swerving off a cliff nowhere near her house. Now Bailey, who thought she knew Vanessa better than anyone in the world, is left with a million unanswered questions, and the only person with answers is gone.
To help grieve her loss, Bailey creates a chat bot of Vanessa using years’ worth of their shared text messages and emails. The more data she uploads to the bot, the more it feels like she’s really talking to her best friend. That is, until the bot starts dropping hints that there was more going on with Vanessa than Bailey realized–a secret so big, it may have contributed to Vanessa’s death.

Thank you to Harper 360 for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I had a feeling I’d really enjoy this book, and I wasn’t wrong. It was such an interesting mix of contemporary, romance and thriller, and I couldn’t put it down. The chapters were super short and lead me to flick through the pages so quickly, I just wanted to find out where the story was going.

I really liked Bailey as a main character and her experience of grief felt real and visceral to me – although I can’t be a judge of this personally having never lost anybody as close to me as Vanessa was to Bailey. The idea of Bailey finding out what happened to Vanessa after she died, through a chat bot, was so fascinating to me and I knew I’d want to pick this up.

I did really like the aspect of the book focusing on the chat-bot, although I have to admit that I initially thought this would be much more of a thriller than a darker contemporary. I wish I’d have realised before going in that this one would be much slower, sadder and more visceral than the thriller I expected. The chat bot didn’t necessarily reveal things itself, but rather prompted Bailey to question those around her and her surroundings, which in turn revealed things about Bailey’s death.

There were a lot of underlying aspects about this book that I really enjoyed – and seeing Bailey learn more about herself throughout the book was lovely to see. There was also some great diverse rep throughout the book, and some mentions of a pin-badge that reminded me of my favourite book, The Invisible Life of Addie Larue.

I’d definitely recommend this one, just keep in mind it might be more of a heavy contemporary with thriller/mystery elements than a straight up thriller.

★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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One thought on “Review: Message Not Found by Dante Medema

  1. Pingback: March Wrap-Up – The Books are Everywhere

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