Allison: Famous Last Words | Katie Alender | Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Allison: Famous Last Words | Katie Alender | Book ReviewFamous Last Words by Katie Alender
Published by Scholastic Inc. on September 30th 2014
Genres: Adolescence, Horror & Ghost Stories, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

Hollywood history, mystery, murder, mayhem, and delicious romance collide in this unputdownable thriller from master storyteller Katie Alender. Willa is freaking out. It seems like she's seeing things. Like a dead body in her swimming pool. Frantic messages on her walls. A reflection that is not her own. It's almost as if someone -- or something -- is trying to send her a message.

Meanwhile, a killer is stalking Los Angeles -- a killer who reenacts famous movie murder scenes. Could Willa's strange visions have to do with these unsolved murders? Or is she going crazy? And who can she confide in? There's Marnie, her new friend who may not be totally trustworthy. And there's Reed, who's ridiculously handsome and seems to get Willa. There's also Wyatt, who's super smart but unhealthily obsessed with the Hollywood Killer. All Willa knows is, she has to confront the possible-ghost in her house, or she just might lose her mind . . . or her life.

Acclaimed author Katie Alender puts an unforgettable twist on this spine-chilling tale of murder, mystery, mayhem -- and the movies.

Famous Last Words by Katie Alender caught my eye at BEA 2014 because of the fact that I had previously read Marie Antoinette Serial Killer and was excited to see another book by the author. I was also excited to see another murder mystery book for young adults since I haven’t read very many of them and am always looking to try something new. This one follows a teenager named Willa who is forced to move from Connecticut to Los Angeles after her mother marries a Hollywood director. Unfortunately, around the time that they move to their new neighborhood it is discovered that there is serial killer loose in Hollywood, who’s been kidnapping famous young actresses and having their death look like a death from a famous movie. Honestly, I got out of Famous Last Words exactly what I was looking for: part mystery, part suspense, and all around an enjoyable read.

From the very beginning, it is obvious that there is something different about Willa in comparison to not only the other young girls in Hollywood but also to young girls in general. For starters, she keeps having these visions about the murders of young actresses in Los Angeles. She doesn’t know what causes them or where they come from until suddenly she is having them. These visions are very realistic and are at times a bit scary as they reveal details about the murders that even the police don’t know. However, Willa isn’t very smart as character. She continuously knowingly puts herself into danger and she doesn’t listen to the people around her who are simply trying to protect or help her. She also surrounds herself with some less than stellar people as well which at times makes her hard to root for. Also, there is a love triangle (which wasn’t too bad but still…). Now I understand that Willa is just a teenager and as we know teenagers can do some really impulsive things when they think that they are invincible but after a while it became a little much for me.

The thing that really kept me really invested in Famous Last Words was the pacing of the story. Like I said, there is a murder mystery going on, and when you have a situation like that every second counts. Also, because that book is set in Hollywood, it is able to have a Hollywood element to it which I enjoyed. And yes by Hollywood element, I do mean that there is a slight bit of cheese in it. It’s not overly done but it’s definitely there in a way that made me want to shake my head. But yet it also worked for the story, and helped create the mood for the mystery, and allow a break from the more suspenseful scenes. Admittedly, I had a hunch as to who the murderer is going to be from the moment when we first meet him but I wasn’t exactly sure how it was all going to come about as to how he did it. The combination of Willa’s visions along with a brief paranormal episode helped drive the story and made it hard for me to put it down. I do wish that we had more of an explanation as to the visions and the paranormal episodes though because I felt like that was really lacking. I mean, it was kind of addressed but then it was never picked up again, and I never felt I got any closure from it in terms of why it was happening or why it was fully necessary for the story.

As a reader, I enjoy Katie Alender’s writing style, and the way that it descriptive but also leaves enough vivid detail for the reader to imagine things on their own. I also love the history elements in her stories. This time around it involved little tidbits about classic Hollywood movies. Admittedly, I have never seen any of the movies which were mentioned in the story but I enjoyed how they were presented, how they related to the plot, and thought it was such a creative element to use in the story. I also enjoyed the Hollywood elements as well. Like I said before, I got out of Famous Last Words exactly what I was anticipating, and because of this (and my previous experience with the authors work), I have a feeling that if I see another Katie Alender book out in the wild, I will be glad to snatch it up and give it a chance.

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Allison is 27 years old. She is always looking for new books, good music, quality/epic adventures, and a normal sleep schedule. She currently works with the elderly.


  1. I’ve never seen those movies either but I loved the idea. A killer who murders girls by acting out famous old movies was absolutely genius! It’s what drew me to the book in the first place. But I do agree, Willa wasn’t the smartest…

  2. Hey, I didn’t know there was a fantasy element in this until I read your review! LOL
    I read Alender’s “Bad Girls Don’t Die”, and while I enjoyed that book, I never seemed to get to the next two in the trilogy (still something I plan to do eventually). So every time I see a book by her, I keep thinking that before I get into that one, I ought to finish those.
    Anyways, I’m a little daunted by the “not very smart” MC situation. I mean, I can’t really stand when the MC is TOO dumb. Yes, teenagers can be moronic and, yes, they think they’re invincible. But they are not idiots all the time. They’ve got functioning brains. All my friends in high school were extremely smart, even when they were idiots lol.
    And a love triangle… oh-uh… I don’t like those, at ALL.
    But the idea of the murder mystery is intriguing.
    Gah, not sure anymore!!!
    Thanks for the lovely review, Allison!