The June Boys

The Gemini Thief could be anyone. Your father, your mother, your best friend’s crazy uncle. Some country music star’s deranged sister. Anyone.

Confrontational and enlightening, this story gave me chills. Forced to see a side of society we so often deny exist, the story had me thankful that my husband and brothers never had to endure this kind of trauma. This book is an eye opener in so many ways.

Some stories have to be told.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson for gifting me a complimentary copy of this book via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Firstly, let me say, before you pick up this book make sure you are ready. It’s a fast paced, highly intense read centred around some very serious topics. I highly recommend reading it, but if you are a sensitive reader (like I am) prepare yourself for some severe anxiety. The writing is that good.

It’s quite a thing to be right. Quite a terrible thing

June Boys, Court Stevens

Following the story of Thea and her missing cousin Aulus, this story throws you straight into the thick of things. Every year on the first of June, boys go missing. And you never think it will happen to you. Until it does. When Aulus disappears the police insists he is not a June Boy, but Thea does not give up hope. Along with her friends, she does her own investigation to find Aulus. Alive. She will not admit defeat. She will bring him home.

Lovers of mystery and thrillers will live for this story. This book is structured to include the Elizabeth letters from Aulus McClagen to Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted June 5, 2002 and rescued nine months later on March 12, 2003 in between the chapters. This story is built around these letters and is absolutely mind-blowing. Alternating Point of Views (POV’s) gives you the opportunity to experience both sides of this tale with such intensity. And honestly I had chills.

I don’t know what it is I don’t have room for. Sometimes I’m afraid it’s happiness

June Boys, Court Stevens

As with crime stories, there are certain aspects that are a bit on the nose. This can cause the story to be predictable in some cases, but that is purely based on the fact that I have read multiple books in this genre and can therefore often easily spot the plot twists. So if you are a first time reader in this genre, I believe the writing will cause you to experience these twists more intensely. However, if you are well read, you will still be able to appreciate the creativity and complexity behind these plot twists and how the author managed to weave them into the storyline to pull the impactful big picture together. I wished there was more to the ending though. It felt a bit rushed.

I used to believe beauty was its own armour and beautiful people floated above bad circumstances

June Boys, Court Stevens

Majority of these characters are high school kids along with the adults in their lives. As with all teenagers, the teen angst and uncertainty translate in the writing. I struggled to picture some characters fully, but all in all I found it easy to envision the scenes playing out with the different personalities at play. Character development is a bit slow and to some extend I thought it was lacking. But I also recall my own behaviour at seventeen and how uncertain and insecure I was. Keeping that in mind, I think these characters are quite spot on. We often tend to judge books harshly based on an idea we have of the world, and forget to keep realistic behavioural patterns in mind. This book, despite the Nancy Drew vibes, manages to make these characters come to life with their quirks and ticks and drama.

Sometimes a moment is exactly what it’s supposed to be

June Boys, Court Stevens

I was absolutely, thoroughly hooked on this writing style. Breathing life into this story with a dark and twisty atmosphere, the unconventional metaphors and symbolism was striking. This book also deals with intense topics like racial prejudice, abduction and PTSD, trust, abuse and mental health. Duality of humanity is such a powerful theme, and although quite commonly found in the YA genre, I felt this book took it to a whole new level, forcing you to ask yourself what would you do in this situation. Grief and loss are also two other major themes in this book. Especially different kinds of loss. The impact of dealing with this loss in secret can have on the people around you. If you are a parent of a high school child, I recommend reading this before you give it to your kid. But I do feel like every kid should read this. In a world flooded with social media and information, this book highlights the risk you can face every day. Being informed is key. Parents, please, please read this book!

Because here’s the real truth, you can’t keep darkness out if he has a key

June Boys, Court Stevens

The one thing that I didn’t love about this book is the world building. In the case of realism, setting is just as crucial as with fantasy. You don’t have to necessarily spend three chapters expanding on the setting, but you cannot rush it either. In this case, the setting is a small town in the South of USA. These small towns have quaint shops and interesting places. And even though the author absolutely nailed the small town atmosphere, I did struggle to form a picture. In general, this would not bother me as much in these kinds of stories, but there is a lot of navigation in this book, and I found it difficult to place myself.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who loved What She Found In The Woods and Pretty Little Liars.  This suspense and mystery in this book is gripping and addictive.

Trigger warnings for abuse and abduction victims. Although I absolutely love this story, I would urge you to consider carefully. The writing is intensely captivating.

Synopsis

The Gemini Thief could be anyone. Your father, your mother, your best friend’s crazy uncle. Some country music star’s deranged sister. Anyone.

The Gemini Thief is a serial kidnapper, who takes three boys and holds them captive from June 1st to June 30th of the following year. The June Boys endure thirteen months of being stolen, hidden, observed, and fed before they are released, unharmed, by their masked captor. The Thief is a pro, having eluded authorities for nearly a decade and taken at least twelve boys.

Now Thea Delacroix has reason to believe the Gemini Thief took a thirteenth victim: her cousin, Aulus McClaghen.

But the game changes when one of the kidnapped boys turns up dead. Together with her boyfriend Nick and her best friends, Thea is determined to find the Gemini Thief and the remaining boys before it’s too late. Only she’s beginning to wonder something sinister, something repulsive, something unbelievable, and yet, not impossible:

What if her father is the Gemini Thief?

About the Author:

Courtney C. Stevens

Courtney “Court” Stevens grew up among rivers, cornfields, churches, and gossip in the small town south. She is a former adjunct professor, youth minister, Olympic torchbearer and bookseller at Parnassus Books. These days she writes coming-of-truth fiction and is the Community Outreach Manager for Warren County Public Library. She has a pet whale named Herman, a bandsaw named Rex, and several novels with her name on the spine.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s