I read The Pact after reading The Storyteller, so I think this book has suffered a little by comparison. Overall it's pretty good, but I did have a hard time connecting with Emily. Part of the problem is that she's dead for 90% of the book and her story is revealed in flashbacks. The other part of the problem is that the reason for the story's suicide pact seemed pretty thin to me. Basically, Emily is all torn up emotionally because she was fondled in a fast-food restaurant men's room when she was a child. She went into the men's room on a dare from Chris and one of the workers sticks his hand down her pants. I'm not trivializing child abuse, but the way it was written it was like "That's it!? That's why she wants to kill herself?" It just seemed like something that would be so easy to overcome with a good therapist if she'd just reached out and said something to her parents, or Chris, or anyone. I also thought the sex scenes with Emily and Chris were weird. This is set in 1997 and, having been a high school kid in the 90s, I can tell you that we were pretty savvy and much more open about sexuality. The way the sex scenes were written made them seem like teens in the 60s, where she was expected to be a good girl, and good girls don't go all the way; while he was the sex-crazed boy, so it was his job to keep pressing her. Of course, she can't just say what's bothering her about the whole thing (both her conflicted brother/boyfriend feelings about Chris and being molested) - that's icky and we don't talk about our feelings with the person that's allegedly closest to us. The way it was written seemed very puritanical and not realistic for teens in the 90s to me.The courtroom scenes were well done and I enjoyed them. The lawyers were kind of stereotypical prosecutor/defense characters, but I understand that the book would have gotten unwieldy had she spent more time fleshing out the characters. I did enjoy the private investigator working with Chris's attorney; she seemed to be the smartest person in the book sometimes. I also enjoyed how vindictive and crazy Melanie went after Emily's death as a coping mechanism. Her character got so lost in her grief and was so willing to blame everyone but Emily for Emily's suicide that it was easy to see how she missed all the signs that something was wrong with her daughter for years.The Pact is still a good book and a fast read. I'd recommend it.