Golden Retriever Boys and Guilty Murderers: My Meme Review

I've been hungry to read more thrillers lately, and the second I read the blurb for Aaron Starmer's new book Meme, I knew I had to have it. A cast of antiheroes? Twisted secrets? Internet meme culture? Yes please!

Allow me to scream about my thoughts for a few paragraphs.

Book Title: Meme
Author: Aaron Starmer
Publisher/Year: Dutton BFYR, 2020
Genre: Thriller
Number of Pages (According to Goodreads): 368
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Book description (from Goodreads):
For fans of One of Us Is Lying, a tense, psychological thriller for the internet age about the destructive combination of self-important goals and self-serving plans.

No one is going to miss Cole Weston. A loner without friends or family and an unhealthy obsession with the darker corners of the internet, Cole had become increasingly violent toward his ex-girlfriend, and threated to do so much worse. So it was only logical–only right, really–that his former friends took it upon themselves to rid the world of Cole Weston.

Now, Logan, Meeka, Holly, and Grayson are forever bound by Cole’s body, buried under the cold Vermont earth. The failsafe should any one of them consider betrayal: their old phones, buried with Cole, disconnected from service, and each wiped clean except for one file–their video confession.

As expected, no one misses Cole. Or even realizes he’s gone. But a few days later, the meme appears. It’s a stupid meme, old school and not even funny. But every terrible joke has one thing in common, the same photo–a screenshot from the confession video still entombed six feet under with Cole.

I know, I know -- I too geeked out when I read that the main characters are the ones who committed the murder. Talk about a twist!

For the most part, this book totally delivers on what it promised. I devoured most of it in the space of a day because I couldn't put it down! It's not a super long book, but Starmer manages to create a claustrophobic atmosphere that feels just right for the length. While there is some discussion of meme culture, it doesn't overwhelm the plot development itself, which I appreciated. Several of the twists made chills creep down my spine, and the narrators themselves felt deliciously unreliable.

Oh yes, the narrators! Let's be clear, most everyone in this book is a terrible person, but they feel authentic in their terribleness. I especially loved Logan, the golden boy philanthropist who has the innocent charm of a puppy but isn't always assertive enough to do the right thing. Oh yeah, and he kind of starts to go insane toward the end. We love to see it *chef's kiss*

I would have rated this book the full five stars, but honestly the ending threw me a bit. It felt abrupt and I wasn't ... entirely sure what happened? I couldn't bring myself to dock a full star, because an ambiguous ending felt somewhat right for this kind of story, but I would have liked a little more closure.

Trigger Warnings for Meme

This book might not be for you if you're sensitive to depictions of death or dying, cyberbullying, guns, and/or violence involving blood.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to people who enjoy fast-paced, morally gray thrillers that will keep you turning pages well into the night! Just, yanno, be aware that the ending isn't wrapped up with a neat little bow.

Thanks to Penguin Teen for the ARC of this book! Meme just came out today, so if this sounds like something you'd like, go ahead and swipe your copy now :D

Barnes and Noble | | Amazon | Goodreads

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