A review by sunfalls
As Good As Dead, by Holly Jackson

dark emotional tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

I have a lot of thoughts about this book. First of all, I really did enjoy it on the whole. However, that ending? It was too ambiguous for my liking. Not to mention, there was this huge build-up, and then all of a sudden, there was a time-skip with a super ambiguous ending. Unlike other people, the
Spoilertwist that occurred about halfway through the book didn't shock me or feel out of character for Pip. A major part of this third book was about how the events of the second book changed Pip. Not only has she been dealing with major PTSD, she's also been dealing with harassment, both online and in person from people she used to call friends. It's very understandable that she would murder Jason Bell, when given the opportunity to. The police failed her so many times. If Hawkins had taken her even a little bit seriously, she might never have been kidnapped by Bell in the first place. I don't think it was out of character for her at all, especially given everything that happened to traumatize her in the first place. I also saw in a review that someone interpreted her feelings towards Charlie Green as being some form of affection, where the reviewer said that "Pip still liked Charlie Green, despite his role in all her trauma with Stanley". That isn't a direct quote. However, in my opinion, she didn't still like Charlie. It was more so that he was the only one who could partially understand what she was going through, what she had done or might do in pursuit of taking justice into her own hands, and that kind of camaraderie was something she needed. She needed someone who could understand her and give her advice, like Charlie had before she found out he was hunting Child Brunswick, before everything went sour between them. Anyway, the twist where she murdered Jason and framed Max wasn't out of character at all, since Pip went through a lot of change due to her trauma.
I can understand disliking this book, since the first two were less heavy, but personally, I really appreciated the character development and how this book tackled really hard topics.

Though I'm not sure if the book handled them well or not, since I am not an expert on PTSD, nor on what it looks like manifested in people, I did appreciate the portrayal of it. I feel like I would have instantly hated Pip, if she had seen Stanley die in that way and then had carried on with her life as if nothing happened. The repeating motifs of the
Spoilergunshots always sounding in the beat of her heart or other innocuous noises and of the dead-eyed stare of Stanley greeting her unexpectedly really made it very easy to fall into Pip's head, experiencing her trauma and fear with her. I enjoy being fully immersed into books; it makes for a good escape from my own reality. I also really like all the attention to detail in both parts of the book, as well as how both parts feel like entirely different stories, but are also in a very similar vein. I don't know much about the science of dead bodies, but from an inexperienced point of view, the steps that Pip and Ravi took in order to cover up her involvement in the murder made a lot of logical sense. That brings me to another nitpick I saw other reviewers mention. They said that it didn't make any sense that her friends and family helped her carry out murder and still loved her for it even after she became a literal murderer. These people seem to ignore the fact that to be human is to be irrational. These people loved her even before she murdered Jason Bell. Plus, she murdered him because the police were incompetent, and he was the source of most of her trauma, even if it was indirect. He killed so many other people and harmed many more, so her killing was a lot more justified. The people close to her probably rationalized it in a similar way to how Pip did. It's like how Max's parents didn't believe that he was a serial rapist or a guy who essentially committed vehicular manslaughter. Or how other people close to him didn't want to believe he committed those crimes. In their own minds, they must have rationalized the evidence against him away, believed that everyone who said otherwise was lying, since it didn't fit their ideas of him. In a similar way, those who love Pip almost definitely rationalized things in such a way. It's entirely believable. Plus, most of the other players involved, with the notable exception of Ravi, didn't know entirely that they were helping Pip get away with murder. They just knew that she was scared and hurt and in trouble, and they cared enough to help her get Max Hastings to pay for his crimes. I don't think it's unbelievable that they still loved and helped her after finding out about Jason Bell's murder on the news.


I think, there are definitely flaws in this book, like
Spoilerhow Pip managed to not lose herself completely to panic after being kidnapped and choked until she passed out, as well as how she managed to escape after being duct taped up by Bell. That part seems a little far-fetched, but also not all that far-fetched, since there was also some logical semblance to it. Also, I think it was definitely out of character for Pip to blame Daniel da Silva again, ignore the "practically" in Andie's email, and forget about Jason Bell also being a potential suspect. Like, all the damning evidence could also point to him, and before she was kidnapped, she completely ignored all of that. She had already known that Jason was very controlling and that Andie and Becca and Dawn were not entirely comfortable with him. She knew that something was off about him to some extent. It was even in her talk with Detective Hawkins; Hawkins told her that Bell had complained to him about receiving harassment due to Pip's notes about Jason in her first season of the podcast. She knew that she hadn't painted him in a flattering light because of what she had uncovered. Yet, his name didn't really even occur to her after reading Andie's email. He wasn't at all one of the people who was at the house a lot. Not to mention, Andie's draft email seemed a little bit suspect as well. I get that she didn't have a lot of places to confide much, but writing a whole email in the drafts of her burner email she used for contacting Harriet Hunter, and then not even finishing it, seems too convenient. The rest of Pip's sleuthing from the previous books seemed at least a little less sheer luck. Most of these kinds of investigations tend to be sheer luck, I think, but even so, the Andie email which narrowed down her list of suspects to one person definitely felt way too convenient.


Despite these nitpicks, I did enjoy this book. I do think it was pretty heavy, and if I had been in a more unstable state of mind, it would have destroyed me. However, it was addicting to read to find out what happened, and I don't mind most of the negative aspects that much. I love the scientific and logical approach all three of these books have had. I also really like the general format of these books, with the notable exception being
Spoilerthe latter half of this book and this book's ending.


I would definitely recommend this, but read all the trigger warnings first, since this book is really heavy.

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