A Controversial Thriller: ‘As Good As Dead’ Review

This will be quite a polarizing book… that was a RIDE.

Name: As Good As Dead

Author: Holly Jackson

Published: August 2021

Pip is about to head to college, but she is still haunted by the way her last investigation ended. She’s used to online death threats in the wake of her viral true-crime podcast, but she can’t help noticing an anonymous person who keeps asking her: Who will look for you when you’re the one who disappears?

Soon the threats escalate and Pip realizes that someone is following her in real life. When she starts to find connections between her stalker and a local serial killer caught six years ago, she wonders if maybe the wrong man is behind bars.

Police refuse to act, so Pip has only one choice: find the suspect herself—or be the next victim. As the deadly game plays out, Pip discovers that everything in her small town is coming full circle . . .and if she doesn’t find the answers, this time she will be the one who disappears. . . 


I have absolute faith in Holly Jackson. I trust her to give me the best plot twists, mysteries and characters – the first two books in this series, ‘A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder’ and ‘Good Girl, Bad Blood’, are some of the best YA thrillers out there. And despite veering violently from the tone of the first two books, Pip’s final showdown similarly didn’t disappoint.

One of my favourite things about the AGGGTM trilogy is how realistic they are. As someone who grew up in a small English town, I can see the events of the series unfurling exactly as they do on page. And in this book, Pip is no different. She’s written so realistically. YA books enjoy glossing over undeniable mental effects inflicted by a character’s trauma. (You watched your best friend murder your whole family? Take a nap, and you’ll forget all about it!). But Holly Jackson doesn’t slip into that easy groove. In this final book of the trilogy, Pip has come a long way from her ‘good girl’ persona and has developed essentially PTSD. It’s a character development that puts you in a pretty unique position. I have never before seen how solving murder cases impacted a character in YA – again showing how these books are rooted in the real world.

“Who will look for you when you’re the one who disappears?”

– HOLLY JACKSON, ‘AS GOOD AS DEAD’

My other favourite thing? Holly Jackson’s writing is like a shot of pure adrenaline. Explosive. Scarier than some outright horror books I’ve read, ‘As Good As Dead’ is the sort of book you have to put down and turn around carefully, overcome with the feeling that someone’s stood directly behind you…

This book is terrifying! Like the covers, the books get progressively darker as the series goes on. Pip becomes more obsessive over each case, and her world grows a little smaller each time. This claustrophobic atmosphere is cleverly shown in how ‘As Good Is Dead’ focuses on the events of the first book.

It’s almost cathartic, to complete the series in such a way that the end is the beginning and the beginning is the end. To complete one revolution of the plot and finish at the start. And most surprising of all, it doesn’t feel tacked on, or like the author hadn’t planned this plot development from the beginning (Truly Devious’ author Maureen Johnson, take notes!). Holly Jackson answers questions I didn’t know I had and fills the cracks in her already incredibly strong wall of a plot, shoring up a structure that I’m sure will last decades. You’re looking at a modern classic in Young Adult literature.

But, why have I labelled ‘As Good As Dead’ as a controversial thriller? The rest of the review contains minor spoilers – I will only refer to a ‘plot twist’ but if you want to go into the book totally clueless, skip to the bottom and the like button 🙂

‘As Good As Dead’ will be a pretty polarising book. Around the halfway mark, a ground-breaking, stomach-churning plot twist flips the YA murder mystery formula on its head. Frankly, I’m obsessed! But I can see why other readers disagree.

Young Adult is defined as the literary category for 12-18 year olds. I think this is where most of the trouble lies – the plot twist is controversial because it’s pretty dark for a Young Adult novel. Theoretically, a 12 year old could be the target market for ‘As Good As Dead’, buy it… and be traumatised. Personally, I don’t think this makes the plot twist a bad one, just that people should be made aware that this isn’t an Enid Blyton novel. Especially if you’re under 13, I’d recommend you check out the Trigger Warnings for ‘As Good As Dead’ before you read it – you can find a link to them here.

However, age ratings aside, ‘As Good As Dead’ will also be controversial because it’s unconventional. But I found the plot twist so unorthodox that it was fascinating; shouldn’t we be pushing for books that break boundaries? ‘As Good As Dead’ made me question everything, made me properly think. That’s a good book in my eyes.

If this was a standalone novel, I doubt I’d be so conflicted by Pip’s actions. Probably, I’d straight up disagree with them. But you’re in such a unique position with ‘As Good As Dead’ – the first two books are incredibly different vibes, but they made you love Pip and Ravi and her friends. I was constantly pulled between begging Pip not to go through with it, and an uncomfortable understanding of her motives…

This whole series has been unconventional from the start – a huge part of why I love it so much. But ‘As Good As Dead’ had me utterly hooked. THE tensest book I’ve ever read. Generic YA formula was blindfolded, stabbed and then incinerated – I had genuinely no clue what was going to happen at all times and it was exhilarating.

We don’t get enough morally grey female characters in YA literature so I found the plot twist a fascinating turn. I think it’s important that the author doesn’t condone Pip’s actions too far (I’m so conflicted about framing Max. Like is he a horrible person? Yes. But does he really deserve life imprisonment for a crime he didn’t commit?).

However, this isn’t a handbook or an advice novel. ‘As Good As Dead’ is fiction: there to entertain you and confuse you and terrify you. And that it did.

Published by Hundreds&Thousands

I’m a teenager (and a Hufflepuff) from Manchester. I like oversized jumpers, music that isn't on the radio anymore and books. Pretty much any book I can get my hands on but my favourites are Young Adult, fantasy and science fiction. One day, I decided to share some of my opinions on some great - and not so great - books to people around the world. And here it is! I really enjoy it and I hope you do too. The aim is hundreds and thousands of book reviews (see what I did there?) but I’m not quite up to that. Yet.

27 thoughts on “A Controversial Thriller: ‘As Good As Dead’ Review

  1. I loved this book as well, in fact it’s my favourite of the three books in the trilogy! Loved reading your review- I completely agree with your point about the lack of morally grey characters in YA literature!

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  2. Completely agree with the age rating thing definitely not for the younger side of YA but for us older folks absolutely amazing!

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    1. Yes totally! It’s a tricky topic, because a YA books often cover pretty dark stuff. As young people, we’re see in the media topics like those in the book every day, so I don’t want to be like ‘oh it’s not appropriate’. But at the same time it was pretty out of the blue! What do you think? 🙂

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      1. I think the darker progression of the series was the appropriate choice for the books and it gave people the heads up that things were going to get darker but the serial killer twist did catch me out

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  3. omg this is an absolutely STUNNING review! i adore and agree with everything you said: this is definitely a controversial read, and it wouldn’t work well as a standalone, but Holly Jackson does an incredible job of breaking boundaries and showing just how deep Pip’s trauma (rightfully) goes. great review!💜

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    1. Thank you so much!! That means a lot 😊 I totally agree with you – and sometimes you need books that break boundaries haha. It can just be unexpected if you didn’t anticipate it! That’s what happened here for me, what do you think?

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      1. i agree with you, it was definitely unexpected! i think I also just prefer a mystery aspect as opposed to more of a “cut-and”dry” thriller if that makes sense? i still really enjoyed this one though!

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  4. wow, this gave me a new..way of interception of the plot twist. i do agree that morally grey femaile characters in books are rare, the book just got realy dark at the end comlared to the starting.

    but it really hurt when pip told Ravi they couldn’t be together.. and

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    1. Arg yes!! The ending almost killed me, it was so sad 😦 I’ve seen a lot of reviews saying it wasn’t necessary and I do kind of agree (just another way to make us readers feel pain hahaha) but the last page made up for it! Do you think it was necessary? 🙂

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  5. Amazing review!! I agree with so much of what you say here – it’s incredibly dark for a book primarily aimed at young adults, but totally tense and thrilling and I was completely on edge!

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    1. Yes totally! It’s hard, because a lot of young adult books explore pretty difficult topics and as young people, we’re exposed to topics like those in the book every day, so I don’t want to be like ‘oh it’s not appropriate’. But at the same time it was pretty out of the blue! What do you think? 🙂

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  6. I couldn’t have written a better review if I had tried!! I agree with everything you said!! The plot twist kept me up at night and as you said it was even scarier than some horror books! I loved how much darker this got! I will ever get over that ending but it really made sense and was really realistic in terms of character development. Have you seen the news that this is getting an adaptation for the BBC?

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    1. Aw thank you thank you thank you! That means so much, especially from such a good blogger like you 😊 And no I hadn’t heard about the adaptation! How exciting – as long as Holly Jackson is involved in the writing process, I can imagine it will be fantastic. What do you think? Do you have high hopes?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh thank you!! This means a lot coming from you too 🥺 I think it’s going to be amazing!! The BBC usually does a good job with book adaptations so I have high hopes for it! 🥰

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