Sadie by Courtney Summers – Book Review

Title: Sadie

Author: Courtney Summers

Genre/Themes: Young Adult, Mystery, True Crime style Podcast, Mixed Media Narrative

Blurb from Goodreads

A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she’s left behind. And an ending you won’t be able to stop talking about.

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meagre clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

Trigger Warnings

  • themes of child molestation and sexual abuse of a minor
  • alcoholism
  • absentee parents
  • bodily violence (but not too graphically described)

My Review

Sadie‘ has an incredibly intriguing premise. It’s the story of a nineteen year old girl named Sadie who seemingly goes on the run to avenge the death of her little sister, Mattie.

The book uses a mixed narrative to tell the story. It’s part transcribed podcast hosted by a journalist named West McCray that is set some months after Sadie’s disappearance and part Sadie’s PoV from the time immediately after her disappearance.

Together the two timelines weave together the story of what really happened to Sadie and why she was motivated to leave all she knows behind.

This was a relatively quick read. I read it over the course of a rainy Sunday afternoon / evening. And yet I could have read it much more quickly than that. I kept finding finding myself putting the book down and had to force myself to pick it back up as I wanted to be rid of the book… (It was a book group read ergo my desire to read it to completion so that I could discuss it with my friends)

So I guess even though I found it eminently readable I never really connected with any of these characters. Yes it was deeply sad when the motivations for Sadie’s vengeance were truly uncovered but I found Sadie’s voice in this book to be extremely passive. I guess this could be explained as her being so broken by all the trauma she had to go through; neglect due to an alcoholic / drug addicted mother, responsibility for her sister from the age of six, dealing with her sister’s horrific murder…

But I needed more from the writing.

I really felt that this was a book of telling rather than showing. As a character she was written in much too much of a flat style for my personal taste.

I definitely enjoyed the sections of transcribed podcast a lot more as it was easier to feel horrified by Sadie’s story through the eyes and words of West McCray. He kept the story much more grounded in my opinion. Uncovering the truth of Sadie’s existence through his research just felt more raw to me. He seemed much more emotional than Sadie ever did and I think because he was able to interview/interact with people that knew Sadie it made her feel more like a real person than compared to her own PoV sections.

I’ve heard it said that ‘Sadie‘ works quite well as an audiobook and while I am loath to ever recommended that format I can certainly see the advantages it may have with this book. I imagine that the podcast sections would feel quite intense and that a voice actor might, through their performance, be able to imbue Sadie’s PoV with a lot more heart and emotion than actually is contained within the physical book. This is a similar feeling that I had after finishing ‘Daisy Jones and The Six‘ which is another book that uses a transcribed interview format.

Overall I feel a little disappointed by this book.

There is a lot in it that feels unique and readable but I do feel let down by the prosaic writing style of Summers. I’ve read one other Summers’ book in the past and I had similar quibbles with that so I think this is a case of me not meshing well with her style.

What I do applaud however is the way she handles dark themes in a manner that does not feel cheap or tacky, i.e. nothing in this book felt like it was there purely for shock value and everything made sense to the plot. I also very much enjoyed how the book ended. I like the choices Summers made with regards to what truly happened to Sadie and feel that it was the perfect ending to the podcast.

A mixed bag

My Socials

17 thoughts on “Sadie by Courtney Summers – Book Review

  1. Sorry you had trouble with this one. 😔 I enjoyed it when I read it. I can agree with not meshing with some authors style because I have found myself being the same way to other authors. Great review as always. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve heard many people say the same thing about this book. I think the general consensus I’m getting is that most people were disappointed with it, with a select few really enjoying it. I do have the audiobook for this coz I heard the reading experience was really enhanced by it so maybe I’ll give it a go at some point, but it’s def not a priority! 🙈 Great review, Emer!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh 100% have a listen to the audiobook. I definitely think that the narrative style would work soooo much better in that format. It’s our book group read this month and everyone seems to be in agreement that we all should’ve gotten the audiobook lol! Thanks Dini :)))


  3. It’s a shame about Summers’ writing style. The premise of this book honestly sounds so intriguing. I’ve had it on my TBR for a while but after reading your review I think I may give the audio a go instead. I don’t generally gel well with that format but considering this has a podcast in it (I’m a massive fan of books that use alternate forms of communication in them and generally LOVE podcasts) I think you’re right that it might imbue more emotion. Lovely review, as always, Emer! ❤ Jen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Amanda darling!! It was a strange old book wasn’t it. I was okay with the abuse storyline because I expected something like that as motivation for Sadie but she was such a detached type of character that it was super hard for me to connect with her.. A shame really.


  4. Of course this was one I really liked. XD So far, this is the only Courtney Summers book I’ve liked. I mainly connected to the accurate portrayal of trauma. Sadie does bury a lot of her feelings, which I can see making it to connect with her. Always enjoy your reviews!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HAHA Omg we are no longer besties are we. Only took me a day to have another unpopular opinion 😂😂😂
      But yes. I agree with you that the abuse storyline was well written and I totally understand why Sadie was so detached as a character, she was almost in a fugue state really. But I think Summer’s writing just doesn’t do it for me. I also didn’t like her novel Some Girls Are. I love her ideas…just not her prose 🙈

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha we had a good…four-day run?
        I agree with you about Summers’ writing style. I don’t have a word for it other than “unpleasant.” I read all of Cracked Up to Be, but I didn’t LIKE it.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Fantastic review! You covered pretty much everything and I feel like re-reading it now. This is a book that I 3-starred right after finishing but keep thinking back to it fondly. Interestingly upon listening to the audiobook, Sadie came across to me as angry, gritty, and struggling to be sensible. I’d just finished the light and airy To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before at the time so Sadie’s very different atmosphere was like whiplash, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s funny you say that you think back fondly on it now because it’s over a week since I read it and wrote this review and I do feel a little warmer towards it. I really appreciated what Summers was trying to do even if I do think her attempt was somewhat ineffectual. And that’s so interesting that you discerned those aspects of Sadie’s character from the audiobook. Definitely gives a different feeling to the book I would think. Thanks Kitty :))))

      Liked by 1 person

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