Nothing is as it seems in The Hanging Girl, a claustrophobic intersection of Gone Girl with One of Us Is Lying. Eileen Cook writes plot twists like second nature, artfully using thriller tropes in imaginative ways. Her skill at writing unreliable narration where the POV character deliberately withholds information is amongst the best, so that even when she uses well-known tricks, I couldn't see them coming.
I remember my initial amazement at the sheer volume of fan theories surrounding A Song of Ice and Fire as I clicked through westeros.org and r/ASOIAF posts to discover postulation after postulation, many of them tinfoil based off of nothing more than a few scant lines pulled from chapters with no relation to each other. At the very top of the totem pole you had R + L = J (of course), the greatest theory of all time. Then there were the A + J = T's, the Grand Northern Conspiracy's, the Pink Letter speculations, and on and on and on. The number of unsolved mysteries, both real and imagined, was staggering. The Three Dark Crowns series doesn't quite reach that level of cloak-and-dagger hint-dropping, but it comes splendidly close for a combined length that's only about half that of A Storm of Swords alone.
Warcross is still silly and over-the-top, but it pulls it off with such aplomb and flair that I'm more than willing to go along with whatever Lu tells me. 18-year-old hacker gets caught up in the world's biggest conspiracy which all takes place in virtual reality? Heck yeah!
I have nothing against long books, as long as the amount of content justifies the length. A Storm of Swords justifies its 400k words. Tower of Dawn doesn't justify more than 100k. It's glaringly obvious that this was originally a novella that spiralled out of control when SJM couldn't be bothered to cut it down.
September's going to be a busy month for YA novels. There's a bunch of them on my TBR to clear out in the next couple weeks.