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Before I dive into this review, I need to give a bit of history on how this review of Saint X came to be.
I received an ARC (advanced reader copy) of Saint X from Celadon Books back in October of 2019. I was ecstatic. I had never been sent an ARC before, but had won a copy of The Whisper Man from them prior and they graciously added me to their publicity list. I had never heard of the book before and decided to just jump in without doing much more than read the back cover. I read Saint X with the assumption that I was reading a thriller (more on this later) and unfortunately I was very much disappointed. The plot was good, but I felt like a deflated balloon. Where was the big reveal and plot twist at the end? I’m fairly certain I sat in silence for a few minutes just wondering what I had just read. I posted my review on Instagram (IG) and to be honest, I was quite nervous to tag the publisher. My very first ARC and my review is mediocre at best, but I didn’t want to start out as a reviewer who wasn’t honest. I feel like dishonesty is completely transparent and will eventually come back to haunt you. The words in a dishonest review are fluffy and the edges are always tucked in nice and neat. I didn’t want to be that person so I submitted my review and hoped for the best.
After I posted my mediocre review I carried on and didn’t think much about it until I started seeing more reviews similar to mine. I was not the only person that thought this was a thriller. What an odd thing to have happen and honestly, that’s never happened before. I’ve never completely gone into a book with an incorrect category assumption. Why did we think Saint X was a thriller? Why were many reviews saying the same thing about being disappointed because of a category assumption and not necessarily because of the content. It’s important to note that while I was seeing similar reviews to my own, I was also seeing positive reviews talking about this beautiful story. How did this happen? It’s possible that it was marketed this way. It’s possible that someone said it was a thriller and it stuck. It’s also possible, I guess, that many of us just assumed it was a thriller because there was a dead body in the back cover description. I then started to wonder if maybe I had read Saint X with a different set of glasses on would I have thought differently about it? Did I miss the beauty in this book that I was seeing others talking about because I was waiting for a crazy change of plot and gasp-worthy ending? I gave this a lot of thought and eventually read Saint X again. Yup. I read it twice. The idea of letting a mediocre review sit on my IG page that was caused by an incorrect expectation didn’t feel fair to the author, to the publisher, or to anyone looking for an honest review of this book. So…with all of that being said, my updated review for Saint X is below. Happy reading.
What I loved most about Saint X is how it shows you that our very small life decisions can have a big impact on our path. We make small and mundane decisions every single day without much thought to how they will all add up and route us. This book was full of small life decisions that in hindsight were huge. I also loved how all of the characters were intertwined and while it may not be a thriller, it’s most definitely a mystery. I found myself constantly wondering who was responsible and who knew something.
The privilege and discrimination in this book is also what makes it so interesting. It was so subtle at times that it made me go back and read again. How many times have I heard someone say something similar or how many times have I thought something similar. A book that causes you to look inward is always the best kind.
I also truly love when characters that are “out of the picture” make a comeback at the end when the author shows how their lives continued. It always feels like the puzzle pieces were put back together and Alexis Schaitkin did the most wonderful job at wrapping this up for me. The worst thing is to get attached to a character’s story and never find out what happened.
The part I struggled with the most with Saint X was that I wanted the pace to be faster in the middle. There is a part of the story where Claire, the sister of the girl that died, does the same thing over and over. She’s searching for a man that was arrested for her sister’s death, but then released. I felt like we were stuck in the searching phase for a very long time and I found myself getting bored and impatient. I like the plot of a book to move and groove and, at times, this one seemed to stall.
That being said, this book is good and the ending is beautiful. Are you surprised I said that? Yup- me too. It’s a story with beauty and heartache and pain and sadness and regular life all wrapped into one. It’s a story with family and disconnected family and how we all navigate with and around each other. It’s a story of race and privilege and teens learning to be good people and a sister finding her place and her purpose. I finished Saint X and felt happy that I had put on different glasses. Share in the comments below what you thought of Saint X and if you haven’t read it, will you? Thanks again to Celadon Books for the ARC. I am always thankful and appreciative of being asked to read any book ahead of time.