Jane has it all: a cute boyfriend, two amazing best friends, a place at the top of her high school’s popularity pyramid, and a bright future that might involve her passion for photography. Aside from her mom’s impending marriage to a guy she hates, Jane’s got everything she could wish for. Or so she thinks. When she wakes up in the hospital the night after a hit-and-run left her dying in the titular rosebush, Jane has almost no memory of the night before. But as the details start filtering back, and she receives a series of increasingly creepy “gifts” from a “secret admirer,” she begins to fear that the accident was not so accidental. Can Jane solve the mystery of who tried to kill her before the killer gets a chance to try again?
This book reminded me of the Christopher Pike novels I used to devour in middle school, albeit with slightly less bloodshed and more interesting writing. It’s absolutely over the top with twists and craziness – the number of people who turn out to be bad guys but also AREN’T the killer is a good marker of the soapy melodrama of this book – but it’s a super fun read. Jaffee does a nice job of building suspense and creating cliff-hanger chapter endings. I read much later than I meant to because every time I got to the end of a chapter, I’d find myself saying “Oh, just one more, I have to see what happens next!” Jane is suffering from partial paralysis, which means she’s confined to her hospital bed. Jaffe uses this device to create a claustrophobic environment where Jane’s sleuthing is limited, and almost entirely dependent on who comes to visit her. It’s a nice twist on the typical teen thriller.
Rosebush also has elements of series like Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars. Jane and her friends are super wealthy and they party hard. There’s lots of brand name dropping and a fair amount of sex and alcohol/drugs, although nothing is too graphic in that department. Depending on how you feel about all of that, this may not be the book for you, but I thought it add to the enjoyable ridiculousness of the whole thing. I was frustrated by Jane’s apparent stupidity sometimes (she waffles a lot between trusting no one and doing trusting things just when she shouldn’t be) and overall the character development consists more of physical descriptions (there are a lot of hot boys in this book) than real personality insights, especially for the minor characters. That said, Rosebush is a fun, quick read. Recommended for fans of the aforementioned series and for mystery-lovers.