Quinn is looking forward to her senior year at Poe University. She has big plans to hang out with her best friend, flirt with a certain boy genius, party at her favorite dive bar and figure out what she’s going to do after graduation with her not-so-useful art major. But that’s before she meets Luke, a hot townie who’s moved back home to help take care of his dying sister. And it’s before a weird epidemic sweeps across campus, mysteriously turning people’s eyes purple.
Is it an odd side effect from a new party drug?
Is it a rogue virus developed in a campus lab?
Is it the mark of the devil?
Soon the town starts blaming the university and the student religious group becomes frighteningly aggressive in their on-campus accusations. Quinn and Luke are caught in the middle—until a tragic accident forces Luke to reveal the one part of himself he’s kept carefully hidden. That he’s so much more than the happy-go-lucky boy next door Quinn had believed him to be isn’t a surprise…but this truth might be too dangerous for her to handle.
Although it starts off pretty slow, it picks up about halfway through and turns into a pretty good page-turning mystery. When Quinn’s roommate, Mandy, begins showing strange symptoms, not the least of which is lavender eyes, she finds herself embroiled in the mystery of the century. As more symptoms and victims pile up, the small town of Allen, Virginia finds itself at the center of a media and panic firestorm. Caitlin is torn between brainy Rashid, fellow student at Poe University, and towie, Luke. Each has something to offer, making her inability to choose somewhat understandable. But I had a hard time with understanding the way she bounced back and forth between them, sometimes hour-to-hour or even minute-to-minute.
The plot centers around the mysterious illness plaguing Poe University students as it spreads from Caitlin’s roommate, Mandy, patient 0, to the broader Allen community. Numerous theories abound, including it being the work of the devil, a side-effect of a new club drug, or a manufactured virus. When another symptom appears to be miraculous healing in those with purple eyes, sick people from everywhere come to Allen hoping to catch the virus, and with it a cure for whatever ails them. The love-triangle subplot is almost thrown in as an afterthought. If you come for the romance, stay for the mystery, because that’s what really drives this story.
The author creates a believable world of small town paranoia and life for both locals and students when an exclusive university is the biggest thing around.
The cast is pretty large, but Caitlin is the main character. She’s not particularly likeable, but she does have her moments and by the end, I found myself rooting for her. Mandy is the most interesting character, with her tragic backstory and her love for a nerd when she could have almost any hot guy she wanted. Luke, one of Caitlin’s love interests, is more rounded and sympathetic than hot, brainy, Rashid. There’s also a whole host of colorful locals and college students to make a tapestry of characters that drives the plot.
Top Five Things I Enjoyed Heartsick
1. The Mystery. I love a good new adult romance wrapped up in a mystery. It might be my new favorite genre.
2. Luke. He’s totally badass with a nice soft underbelly and a big heart.
3. Danny. What’s not to like about the loveable Freshman?
4. Mandy. She’s feisty, spunky, and as loyal as they come. Sometimes I think she deserves a better BFF than Caitlin.
5. Allen, Virginia. This small town has heart and soul and perfectly encomasses a place where everyone knows your name and your business and aren’t afraid to tell you what they think you should do about your life.
Heartsick is a surprise hit. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it exceeded my nebulous expectations.
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Book
Author: Caitlin Sinead
Release Date: February 16, 2014
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
Her writing has earned accolades from Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Glimmer Train, and Writers & Artists, and her stories have appeared in multiple publications, including The Alarmist, The Binnacle, Crunchable, Jersey Devil Press, and Northern Virginia Magazine. She earned a master’s degree in writing from Johns Hopkins University.