It's curious Lili Peloquin's debut, "The Innocents," was released in mid-October because the sudsy novel has "summer beach read" written all over it. But perhaps the timing is apt; as new seasons of our favorite series hit the airwaves, I couldn't help but be reminded of "Gossip Girl" and "Pretty Little Liars" as I turned the pages.
"The Innocents" centers around sisters Alice (the older, responsible one) and Charlie (the younger, more provocative one). Their mother has just married rich Richard Flood, whose wife and daughter both recently died (the former of cancer, the latter in a car accident). Mom Maggie and the sisters relocate from their cramped Cambridge, Massachusetts, home to Richard's palatial pad in moneyed beach-side Serenity Point, Connecticut, where they'll spend the summer until boarding school commences in the fall.
With her fun, fearless attitude, Charlie makes new friends fast, including Charlotte and her troubled second-cousin-once-removed Jude. The pair seem to have something of a romantic past (shades of "Cruel Intentions"), but Charlie is desperate to make the bad boy hers. Meanwhile, Alice sparks a connection with Charlotte's (Richard's dead daughter) ex-boyfriend Tommy, who still feels grief over the girl's death, in addition to struggling with his own family crisis. Tommy wants to keep things between him and Alice private. But why?
Tommy's secrecy isn't the only thing giving Alice pause; she's also frequently mistaken for Richard's dead daughter—and becomes morbidly fascinated with her. Little does she know the two share a connection that will change Alice's life—and her relationship with sister Charlie—forever.
"The Innocents" is the first novel in a series, and it reads like one. There's a lot of set up here, but you will be rewarded with an intriguing payoff in the end. To be sure, few plotpoints are resolved by the final pages, meaning if you want any closure, you'll just have to wait for the second book, "Jealousy," due summer 2013. Just in time to stuff into your beach bag.
Have you read "The Innocents"? Or are you planning on picking up a copy? Tell us in the comments and on Twitter!