Untraceable by S.R. Johannes

Simon the Bear

Untraceable by S. R. Johannes leads readers on a long but thrilling hunt to trap a killer. A tom-boy heroine, woodsy setting, and two cute boys make this wilderness thriller an exciting read.

Grace has always been a daddy’s girl. But not the kind that likes to go out shopping using daddy’s credit card…she’s more the fly-fishing, bear taming, criminal tracking with her father kind of girl. Her father works as a forest ranger, and Grace tags along. 

But her father fails to return from one his routine inspection trips. A months-long search turns up nothing but a few candy wrappers and a bloodied shirt. Everybody assumes he’s dead. Not Grace. Though devastated, Grace continues to search for her father. For months her search, aided by her former boyfriend Win, turns up nothing. Win, her mother, the police, her therapist all insist she give up the ridiculous hunt. Her father is dead, and she’s just making the grieving process worse for herself.

But when two hillbilly trappers and one cute college student turn up in town and start to stir thing’s up, Grace can’t help but get involved. What she doesn’t realize is how much bigger the events of her father’s disappearance actually are. And what finding her father may cost her in the end.

Grace is not your typical YA heroine. Think more Katniss Everdeen than Bella Swan. She’s a tomboy. Independent. Opinionated. But she’s also fragile and tender.

Win is the typical boy-next door. He and Grace grew up together, fell in love, and then tragedy struck with the disappearance of Grace’s father.  He’s always been there for Grace, but as they’ve gotten older, their relationship has gotten more complicated. He’s a jokester, a flirt, but also a pretty mature guy. 

Mo is the cute college boy who is much more than he at first appears. He seems so open and willing to listen to Grace’s story and troubles, but doesn’t quite reciprocate sharing. 

To find out what the author thinks of her own characters (both the heroes and the villains!) check out my author interview here: https://ashleychristiano.wordpress.com/2011/11/21/qa-with-shelli-johannes-wells-author-of-untraceable/

Be prepared to learn a lot of details about fishing, tracking, and bear hunting. This may sound kind of strange, it’s the level of detail the Johannes devoted to these things that make this thriller plausible, and thus fun to read. Following a lip-stick junky on her hunt to track down her father’s killer just doesn’t sound as exciting. 

And the twists and turns you’ll take with Grace as she unlocks more of the secrets surrounding her little town will shock you, and the betrayals you’ll discover make you quite indignant. 

My one critique: it was just too long. There were definitely some scenes, that, while romantic and cute, could have been edited down, or even out. I think that’s one of the challenges that comes with being an independent author. You have less people willing to tell you the hard stuff.

Overall, Untraceable is a fun read with a cast of interesting characters, twists and turns in the plot, and an interesting setting.

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