Molly Pierce

Zoe N. | June 18, 2014 | Review

Molly Pierce

The Half Life of Molly Pierce

by Katrina Leno

Genre: YA Contemporary, YA Thriller
Published: July 7th, 2014
by HarperTeen




You take it for granted. Waking up. Going to school, talking to your friends. Watching a show on television or reading a book or going out to lunch. You take for granted going to sleep at night, getting up the next day, and remembering everything that happened to you before you closed your eyes.

You live and you remember.
Me, I live and I forget.
But now—now I am remembering.

For all of her seventeen years, Molly feels like she’s missed bits and pieces of her life. Now, she’s figuring out why. Now, she’s remembering her own secrets. And in doing so, Molly uncovers the separate life she seems to have led…and the love that she can’t let go.


The Half Life of Molly Pierce is a wonderful, intriguing debut that is bound to make you think extensively. I’ve mentioned how much I love mind-boggling reads, and this definitely rests under that category – from the complex relationships to the psychology to the characterization to the slight mystery in the plot.

17-year-old Molly has been having blackouts for her entire life. One moment she’ll be in school, the next she’ll wake up from a blackout and will be driving to a street she’s never been to before with no memory of how she got there.And oddly enough, nobody around her seems to notice. But, suddenly, she remembers figments of memories, and she pieces them together and goes on a quest for answers and a journey of self-discovery.

I found Molly to be a wonderful protagonist. She has a great deal of depth to her; but she’s someone you can’t help but like. She’s depressed and isn’t the happiest person, and you really can’t blame her for that. You can feel her hopelessness, her confusion, and her drive to find out what is happening to her; and not without reason. You can really sympathize with her; and that was what made this book so believable and well-done.

One of my favorite things I loved about The Half Life of Molly Pierce was the writing. Written like a stream of consciousness narrative, this will uncountably be a hit-or-miss style for readers. I, personally, found it to match the story perfectly; and it conveyed the type of story Leno was going for wonderfully. The writing added the sense of mystery the book needed, and it fit Molly’s personality wonderfully.

Whether or not you love The Half Life of Molly Pierce depends on whether or not you saw the ending coming. As with most psychological thrillers, Katrina Leno does not fail to end The Half Life of Molly Pierce on a gripping note; rather she pulls a mind-boggling twist at the end. As for me, I saw the twist coming….

because of my previous knowledge on the topic, which definitely lowered my enjoyment of the novel a tad; but I still found it mind-boggling and fascinating nonetheless.



  1. Oh, I haven’t heard of this one before but now I’m quite intrigued. There seems to be quite a level of psychology and a bit of a unreliable narrator. The fact that the less I know about this one, the better, makes me even more excited with its vagueness. It also seems like the narrator is somebody you can easily connect and sympathize with, making her appear realistic and allowing you to enjoy her narration.

    Great side characters too?? That’s awesome, I love it when a story includes well developed side characters who simply aren’t there as a plot device, but are critical to both the storyline and the main character. Ooooo stream of consciousness narrative, hmmm. I think the biggest thing that will factor into my enjoyment of the book is whether or not I can get used to and appreciate the stream of consciousness narrative. I have had instances where I completely abhorred it, but others where it only enhanced the story.

    I’m glad to here that the mental illness and deep inner workings of psychology aren’t simply glanced over. By giving an in depth look at both I feel as though authors can truly give us a better insight of things. The ending sounds intense, I’m curious to see whether or not I’d pick up on it.

    Wonderful review Zoe! <33 I love your reviews, they always are so detailed and make me want to buy whatever book you're telling me about.

    1. Yeah! Glad you’re intrigued Larissa! <3 The narration is absolutely wonderful! 😀

      I KNOW! I'm the same way. Too often are side characters just vaguely touched upon; but this was wonderful!

      I'm totally with you. Either stream of consciousness narratives either knock it out of the park, or are done sloppily. I found this one to be more of the 2nd option, so I hope you do too!

      Thank you Larissa! <3 That means a lot! 😀

  2. I have to admit, you got me intrigued in this one. I’m not a fan of mystery or thriller books, but the topic got me interested. I rarely read thriller books but I like the fact that they make me keep on guessing what’s gonna happen next. Too bad the ending disappointed you but seeing your rating, I guess this is still a good read. I am definitely adding this to my tbr list. Great review Zoe 🙂

    1. YEAH! Glad you’re intrigued Ella! <3 Thrillers that make you constantly guess and second doubt yourself are always the best kinds!

      Even if the ending was a little disappointing, the rest of the novel was still excellent, so I guess it didn't affect my enjoyment too much. 🙂

      Thank you!

  3. Sorry the ending wasn’t quite what you had hoped for, but it sounds like the rest of the novel was fantastic and definitely worth reading. I’m pretty curious, I have to say, and I really love that cover. Very simple, but cool.


    1. Thanks Lauren! Even if the ending was a little disappointing, everything else was still pretty well done, so I’d still say it’s worth a read. 🙂 And yes! Such a fabulous cover, right? <3

  4. I’m definitely curious about this now! When I first saw the cover and read the synopsis, I wasn’t interested in reading this at all. I’m rethinking my decision now, haha! I do love heroines who you can sympathize to and well-developed side characters. I also want to know why Molly’s having blackouts. ._. Officially adding this to my TBR. Awesome (and very helpful) review, Zoe!

    1. YEAH! I’m glad you’re intrigued Aimee! <3 Heroines who are easy to sympathize for are always the best, and books with great side characters are always a plus!

      Thank you! <3

  5. I have this one as an eARC! I’m glad to know it was a satisfying read for you. I like psychological reads a lot, but I’m the type who can also see what’s usually coming, so I’m kind of wary about the ending. I hope it won’t be as predictable for me because when that happens my experience usually goes down the drain, unless of course the writing is brilliant

    1. Even if you do end up predicting the ending Faye, it’s still an enjoyable read, so I hope that if you do see it coming that it won’t affect your enjoyment too much! (And the writing is really well-done here! Definitely in the style of Abigal Haas; which is saying a lot!)

  6. It seems to be the trend lately–the less you know going into a book, the more enjoyable it is. I’m so intrigued about Molly and about her blackouts. Based on your description of her, I already feel for the girl. And yay for characters that root for her! You know, Zoe, I love that even though it clearly wasn’t a perfect read for you and it had flaws, this review is still perfect and puts emphasis on the positive. I’m so happy you enjoyed it as a whole and very, very approve on the gif 😉 Leooo!!! 😀 Thanks for sharing, lovely 🙂

    1. It DOES seem to be the trend lately, doesn’t it? 😀 She is definitely a relatable character, and that makes the story so much more enjoyable.

      Thanks! I feel that, even with its flaws, this was still a really intriguing read – so that’s saying something. 🙂

      Haha! YES! LEO! <3 Haha.. LOL! 😉

      Anytime Siiri! Thank you for always leaving such lovely comments!

  7. This reminds me of a thriller drama that we used to watch here in PH. It was awesome, and I’m having the hunch that this would be too. I think I like the author already. Some books are too focused on how “juvenile” teens are. It doesn’t really bother me, but I admit that sometimes it gets a bit annoying. I think I’ll check this out sooner than later. I hope I could spot this at my local bookstore 😀

    1. It’s so nice to see authors who don’t shy away from the actual complicated physiology – especially in YA, right? 😀 Thanks Jules! Glad you’re intrigued!

  8. I’m embarrassed to The Half Life of Molly Pierce that I haven’t heard of The Half Life of Molly Pierce. But the blurb is interesting and I what has me sold on one-clicking is your review. I love a good thriller but I’m not always the best at guessing at seeing a plot twist coming a mile away. No, seriously, sometimes I’m clueless. *hangs head in shame* If I do see one…then you KNOW that’s a bad sign. LOL! Brilliant review! 🙂

    1. YEAH! I’m glad you’re intrigued! If you’re a fan of thrillers, this is definitely something you should check out. Haha…I’m not usually the best at predicting endings either, but sometimes it happens, right? Thanks for stopping by Christina! <3

  9. I didn’t know too much about this one when I added it to my TBR but now I’m really excited. I love physiological thrillers and this one sounds really well written. A lot of the time I have trouble connecting with unreliable narrators, so to hear you liked Molly so much makes me less nervous about it. Seriously awesome review Zoe!!! =D

    1. YEAH! Glad to hear you’re excited for it! 😀 If you love physiological thrillers, this is definitely something you should check out. 🙂 Molly is SO easy to connect to, and I feel that’s really what makes the story so intriguing. Thank you! <3

  10. You definitely have me wanting to pick this one up. I love a good solid mystery and this sounds like it will give me everything I am looking for.

    Fabulous review!!

    1. Yeah! Glad you’re intrigued! If you’re a fan of mysteries, this is definitely something you’ll enjoy.

      Thank you! 😀

  11. i’m usually such a big fan of psychological thrillers but i sucks that you kind of guessed the ending coming with this one *sigh* I can see how that might take away from the book! Hopefully you enjoy your next reads ending better…or at least don’t predict it 😉

    1. Even though the ending was a bit disappointing, the rest of the book was still pretty enjoyable nonetheless. 🙂 Thanks Lily!

  12. Oh it sounds good, a great heroine, a good story: perfect. I also love when we have to know nothing to really enjoy a book, I usually do that. I’m glad you had a nice time with this on. I wonder if I would see the end coming.

    1. Any excuse for a Leo GIF, right? 😉

      *coughs* Anyhow… I hope you enjoy it as much as I did Marianne! I’m interested in seeing what you think about it!

  13. Awesome writing?! I AM SO IN. I kind of didn’t think seriously about trying this one…just…eh, there seems to be a lot of Half Lives and Strange Lives and Odd Lives books going around and they’ve all tangled up in my brain right now. x) But still! Molly sounds like a fabulous protagonist and I want to try this!

    1. Yeah for awesome writing! 😀
      Haha…I hear you! 😉
      Molly is definitely awesome, and I hope you end up enjoying it as much as I did if you try it!

  14. I love the mystery aspect around these and how reading the novel is like experiencing it all unfold! I also appreciated how you pointed out that the novel is readable by all types of YA readers 😀 I love books about psychology and metal illness, bring it on! Lovely review as always, Zoe.

    1. So intriguing, right? 🙂
      If you’re into that, this is definitely something you should check out!
      Thanks Jeann!

  15. Brilliant and in depth review, like always. I am really intrigued by this but am nervous to read it. I love the mystery aspect and that it has a mind-boggling twist at the end but I worry that I’d figure it out too, which would spoil some of my enjoyment. I think I’ll definitely try this one though, and avoid the synopsis before I do.

    1. Aww…thank you! *blushes*
      I don’t blame you. Mysteries & twists are always awesome, but it’s a shame they’re sometimes ruined by predictability. If you do give this a go, I’ll be interested in hearing if you predict the ending or not. 😉
      Sounds like a great plan!

  16. Yay yay glad to hear that this book had an amazing cast of both main characters and side characters! 😀
    I have the ARC of this one too, but I really haven’t touched it, so glad to hear that this one is a good read.

    Thank you for sharing, Zoe!

    Neysa @ Papier Revue

    1. Yeah for well-developed characters, right? 😉
      I can’t wait to hear what you think of it Neysa! It’s a really great read!
      Thank you for the lovely comment!

  17. I hadn’t heard of The Half Life of Molly Pierce before seeing your review, but it sounds brilliant and really unique. Blacking out randomly and coming to in a different location, doing something completely different? Both terrifying and really intriguing. Definitely adding this one. Awesome review Zoe, loved it! 🙂

    1. “Brilliant” and “unique” describes this one perfectly! 🙂 The premise is definitely – like you said – both terrifying and intriguing, but I think Leno did a good job with it. Glad to hear you’re intrigued!

      Thanks Kelly!

  18. Ooooh, this one sounds so interesting! I havent heard of this book before and the synopsis didn’t really interest me at all. But after reading your review, I’m definitely adding this to the TBR pile. I LOVE authors that don’t treat their readers like they’re stupid. We need more authors that understand this! Molly seems like a very well drawn out character, and it’d be so cool to follow her on this journey to unveil her secretive blackouts. Lovely review Zoe, thanks for sharing xx

    1. Glad it sounds intriguing Joy! 😀

      I’m the same way! It’s so annoying when that happens. Readers are able to understand complex things too, so I’m glad Leno realized this as well. 😉

      Molly is an absolutely wonderful character, and you just can’t help but admire her.

      Thank you lovely! <3

  19. I also love mind-boggling reads and the premise of this book definitely intrigued me! I skimmed your review because I want to get in this as blind as possible but as you highly recommend this book it will totally be on my TBR shelf even though you weren’t a big fan of the ending, I am definitely up for discovering the mysteries of this book. Awesome review, Zoe!

    1. It has such an intriguing premise, right Amir? 🙂 This is definitely one where it’s best to go into the story blind, so I respect your choice. I’m glad to hear you’re intrigued though! Thank you!

  20. I’m really liking the sound of this one now, after your review. Took your advice and skipped the synopsis 😉 But this one has a lot of the things I really like in books, especially the side characters. Interesting about the ending though, I wonder if I would be able to predict it. That would definitely take some of the fun out of all of it :/ I’m for sure going to check this one out though!

    1. Yeah! I’m glad to hear you’re intrigued Alise! And I totally respect your decision…this is SO much better going in blind! 😉

      This has so much to offer – from the characters to the mystery to the relationships – so I really do hope you’ll enjoy it. I too am interested in seeing if you predict the ending as well. It definitely does take a bit of fun out of the reading experience, but not so much that it isn’t still enjoyable.

  21. I recently finished We Were Liars, and I had a hard time sympathizing with the MC, so knowing that you were able to do that with Molly makes me want to pick up this book. (Good thing I read the review before I tried to check the synopsis!) Thanks for the warning about the synopsis. And I’d love to know why the ending is mind-boggling!

    1. Aww…I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy We Were Liars Dre; as I personally loved it. I can definitely see how it might be hard to connect to if you didn’t really feel for Candace; so I definitely agree with you saying that this might work better for you knowing that Molly’s a relatable character (at least for me).

      Hehe! 😉 Good choice you made there! It’s definitely like We Were Liars in that aspect too – the less you know going in, the better it turns out to be. (And, of course, the synopsis in this one gives out a huge spoiler for the story, so…grr!)

  22. I’ve started this book a while back, but the writing-style is a bit different and hard to get used to, so it has been on hold. Seeing this review reminds me that I need to pick it up again 🙂 I especially like the sound of the complex physiology! I love it when authors don’t hold back on that aspect.

    1. It can definitely be something that’s hard to get used to and a bit different; but I felt it worked with the story pretty well. It takes a while to warm up to, but once you’re engrossed in it, it’s absolutely beautiful! I wonder if you tried it a 2nd time if you would feel the same way about it or if you’d feel differently.

      I’m the same way! Yeah for complexities and for not holding back on difficult topics! 😀

  23. JACK DAWSON GIF *hyperventilates*. Oh, Leo.

    I love that this is more of a thriller and really messes with your mind. A bit of mystery, a bit if action to get your blog pumping. This sounds crazy unique; it’s not often YA books labeled ‘thriller’ actually turn out to be thrillers (instead of thinly veiled romances).

    1. <3333

      Definitely! It's got something for everyone - romance (but not too much that it overtakes the mystery), characterization, mystery, familial dynamics for contemporary fans, the list goes on and on. And I totally agree!

      Too often do thrillers - and YA books in general - promise to be something, but end up being a story overshadowed by romance; so I'm glad this one didn't fall into that trap. :)

  24. Goodness, I’ve been hearing such wonderful things about this book! It seemed to me that good protagonists are some sort of trend in psychological thrillers, and I do love a good plot twist at the end. Thanks for warning us about the synopsis, Zoe! Beautiful review 🙂

    1. I’ve been having a streak of luck with protagonists in YA thrillers recently, so I definitely agree! And plot twists about the end are always welcome, right? 😉

      No problem! In my opinion, it gave away a huge spoiler about the ending; so I’d recommend just going in and falling right into the story rather than reading it.

      Thank you! <3

  25. EEP! So happy that you enjoyed this one, Zoe! I just finished it a couple of days ago and it left me SPINNING. I wasn’t expecting it to be so good, and thankfully, I didn’t see the ending coming at all. 😛 Then again, I think this was the first time I read a book dealing with that kind of mental issue, so you can’t really blame me for not figuring it out. 😉

    Molly was such a wonderful character. I related to her SO much and really sympathized with what she was going through. This is one book where there’s so much negativity surrounding the protagonist, but you can’t help but feel hopeful for her, and the negativity doesn’t become too overbearing like some of the more angsty books.

    And YES about the writing style! I fell in love with it from the first page. It sounded a lot like my thoughts, actually: messy and all over the place and short and sharp, and I felt it worked incredibly well for Molly. It just makes her more… understandable, easier to connect with. Loved the short sentences and paragraphs so much. <3 Though yeah, I agree that it'll probably be a hit or miss. Some people might find it annoying, but like you, I think it was one of the best traits of the book.

    I do wish we could've seen more character depth to Lyle and Sayer, though. I mean, they were likable enough, but I felt that the author kind of glossed over them so I didn't feel as strongly about them as I did for Molly.

    Those issues aside, this was an amazing book. I get what you mean about the ending being everything, so it was a shame that you were able to figure it out, but all the same, I'm so happy you liked this overall. Definitely going to be keeping an eye out for more from this author! Lovely review, Zoe! 😀

    1. Thank you Megan! I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed it as well! <3 It definitely does leave you spinning - regardless if you predicted it or not. 😀

      I completely agree! Molly was SO easy to sympathize for, and, even though she had her flaws, I really, really admired her. And YES for your comparison to angsty books! She could have easily fell into that trap, but, thankfully she didn't.

      It was absolutely gorgeous, right? <3 It's not for everyone, but if you were able to connect to it in some way, it's so easy to fall in love with; and, I agree, it really did bring out the best in Molly's characterization. (And haha! It is SO MUCH like a stream of thoughts!)

      I totally agree. They weren't horribly underdeveloped, but I didn't feel Leno went the extra mile to give them the characterization they needed, you know?

      Thank you Megan! <3 It is SUCH a great book, and I'm glad we were both able to enjoy it despite any minor flaws it had.

  26. This sounds so interesting! I really like complex reads too so I’ll be checking this one out 😉 The characters seem to be characters that I would like reading about too.

    (And I really like your new rating report :D)

    1. Yeah! Glad you’re intrigued Skylar! 😀 If you’re into complex physiological reads, this is definitely something you should pick up! And the characters definitely make the story!

      (Thanks! 😉 )

  27. This book sounds so fascinating, so I’m glad to hear you liked it! I love that you said the author addresses her readers as intelligent people – I’ve come across YA authors who don’t, and there is no surer way to get me to DNF a book. I’m also excited about the stream-of-conscious style. It can be hard to pull off, but when done well, the narration technique never fails to captivate me. I’m just crossing my fingers that I won’t predict the ending!

    1. It is DEFINITELY fascinating Emily! 😀 I absolutely agree. I love how this particular author addresses teens + tweens as if they are intelligent people, because, truly, they are; and they’re capable of grasping complex physiology just as much as adults are. It’s always a shame when authors treat readers like they’re children!

      I hope you’re stunned by the ending, because that really makes the book! 😀

    1. Thank you Amelia! 😀 The ending is certainly intriguing and the book is without a doubt fascinating! 😀 Thanks for stopping by!

  28. oooh Celine is reviewing this one for the blog and she really liked it so I have my hopes up. It’s a shame that you saw the twist coming but its great that you still enjoyed it relatively so.

    Lovely review, Zoe! <33

    1. Thanks Mel! It was still an enjoyable read despite the slightly predictable ending, which is saying something I suppose! 😉 Celine and I had similar thoughts on this one, so I’m interested in seeing what you think of when you pick it up!

  29. So here’s the stalking, as promised 😛

    It seems we have pretty similar opinions on this one! Though I myself didn’t see the twist coming. It’s just such a hard book to review, because I really don’t know where the non-spoilers end and actual spoilers begin 😛

    I agree with you on te side characters: they were developed pretty well. I also thought the writing style was just extrmely fitting for the story; I really think it added another layer 🙂

    Great review, Zoe!! <33

    1. Heheh…thank you! 😉

      It is such a hard book to review, because I don’t know what to reveal + what not to reveal. (Although the synopsis reveals the plot twist about Mabel, so I shouldn’t be saying much 😉 ) The writing definitely fit the story and the aura it wanted to send out perfectly!

      Thank you!

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