Missing Clarissa by Ripley Jones and Antimatter Blues by Edward Ashton #bookreviews #thriller #scifi

Missing Clarissa by Ripley Jones

Perfect for fans of A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, Ripley Jones’s Missing Clarissa is a gripping novel about two friends who start a true crime podcast—with dangerous consequences.

In August of 1999, dazzlingly popular cheerleader Clarissa Campbell disappears from a party in the woods outside the rural town of Oreville, Washington, and is never seen again. The police question her friends, teachers, and the adults who knew her—who all have something to hide. And thanks to Clarissa’s beauty, the mystery captures the attention of the nation. But with no leads and nobody, the case soon grows cold. Despite the efforts of internet sleuths and true-crime aficionados, Clarissa is never found—dead or alive.

Over twenty years later, Oreville high-school juniors and best friends Blair and Cameron start a true crime podcast, determined to unravel the story of what—or who—happened to this rural-urban legend. In the process, they uncover a nest of dirty small-town secrets, the sordid truth of Clarissa’s relationship with her charismatic boyfriend, and a high school art teacher turned small-town figurehead who had a very good reason for wanting Clarissa dead. Such a good reason, in fact that they might have to make him the highlight of their next episode…

But does an ugly history with a missing girl make him guilty of murder? Or are two teenage girls about to destroy the life of an innocent man—and help the true killer walk free?

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books, and NetGalley for my free digital copy of this book.


What’s it about (in a nutshell):

Missing Clarissa by Ripley Jones is a fast-paced YA thriller that takes a high school project and turns it into a dangerous example of investigative journalism for two teenagers who initially just thought their podcast idea might be an opportunity for their ten seconds of fame.

My Reading Experience:

This is one of those “Oh! Wow!” thrillers that keep you guessing from start to finish. I always love the use of true crime podcasts. That little extra element always fascinates me, and I don’t even listen to podcasts. I loved the fast pace. It’s under three hundred pages, and with the fast pace, this book was a one-sitting read. 

I also loved the side plot of Cameron exploring her sexuality and admitting that she is gay. The story was a bit contrived, but it played out nicely. As a counselor who has worked extensively with teens, I think that an actual YA audience needs more of a real and not always-so-nice account of coming out (so they get more of a realistic idea of what they will have to deal with and how to overcome it). Still, as an adult, I loved the innocence of that part of the story.

Overall, this story has a couple of misses, but I found it highly entertaining and rewardingly suspenseful.

Read if you like:

  • YA thrillers that keep you on the edge of your seat
  • Sexual diversity exploration
  • True crime podcasts as a plot device

Antimatter Blues by Edward Ashton

Summer has come to Niflheim. The lichens are growing, the six-winged bat-things are chirping, and much to his own surprise, Mickey Barnes is still alive—that last part thanks almost entirely to the fact that Commander Marshall believes that the colony’s creeper neighbors are holding an antimatter bomb and that Mickey is the only one who’s keeping them from using it. Mickey’s just another colonist now. Instead of cleaning out the reactor core, he spends his time these days cleaning out the rabbit hutches. It’s not a bad life.

It’s not going to last.

It may be sunny now, but winter is coming. The antimatter that fuels the colony is running low, and Marshall wants his bomb back. If Mickey agrees to retrieve it, he’ll be giving up the only thing that’s kept his head off of the chopping block. If he refuses, he might doom the entire colony. Meanwhile, the creepers have their own worries, and they’re not going to surrender the bomb without getting something in return. Once again, Mickey finds the fate of two species resting in his hands. If something goes wrong this time, though, he won’t be coming back.

Seeing how over the top my TBR pile is, my husband, who read Mickey 7, offered to read and review Antimatter Blues for me. Below is his review. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for the free digital copy of this book.

What’s it about (in a nutshell):

Antimatter Blues is the second book in a series by Edward Ashton centering on Mickey 7, a member of an expedition to colonize a new planet in a future setting of the human race. Mickey’s job is as an Expendable, and it is the job of the Expendable to perform the most dangerous tasks the colonists need to do to survive. Unfortunately, this means that Mickey 7 generally does not survive the job. But in the future, science can replicate him with his memories intact so he can do it all over again. 

In this sequel, Mickey 7 recently retired from his position as the Expendable of his fledgling colony, a retirement only permitted because of a fabrication Mickey 7 told during the conclusion of book 1. Now, the very survival of the settlement could come down to whether or not he can figure out a way to save the colony or himself. 

It will help if you read this book until after reading Mickey 7 since the first book explains so much you need to understand the story.

My Reading Experience:

Mickey is a snarky son of a gun who always finds himself in trouble, most of his own doing. He is very self-aware of his knack for making a mess of his life, and his snappy and sarcastic dialog makes the story enjoyable and fast-paced. Ashton also personifies the aliens in the story to exhibit a similar quirky wit, providing much comic relief. The themes of personal and community survival under harsh circumstances are explored meaningfully but with a bright-side-of-life sensibility.


Most of the focus of the story is on Mickey. He is a well-developed character who explains his decision-making thru flashbacks of his past life in his home world. His bad choices continually create situations that result in more bad decisions, and he knows it. The other characters are solid but not as well developed and mainly serve as reflections of the traits that Mickey wishes he possessed.  

Narration & Pacing:

The narration is first person and is very brisk. Mickey and his small task force experienced exciting, tense, creative, and sometimes humorous adventures.  


The setting is the far-off planet Niflheim. It is a seemingly bleak and unwelcoming environment for human colonization, but it is the best they have, and they must try to make it work. The story splits between the settlement in the Dome and the unknown lands outside of the Dome, and neither place is a place you would want to go on vacation. Interactions with several alien species make Mickey struggle with his morality and the morality of the human race.

Read if you like:

  • Science fiction adventures
  • Characters who don’t take themselves seriously with a big helping of sarcasm.
  • Thinking about what it takes for civilizations to survive while retaining individual independence.

Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Writing Quality10
Character Development8
‘Couldn’t Put It Down’-ness10
Use of Setting10
All scores, except the overall rating, are on a scale of 1-10. The overall rating is converted to the standard 5-point system.

28 Replies to “Missing Clarissa by Ripley Jones and Antimatter Blues by Edward Ashton #bookreviews #thriller #scifi”

  1. Wonderful reviews, Tessa. I like the sound of both of these, however, Antimatter Blues sound good because of the humor and sarcasm

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not much for YA, but I do like thrillers, and the podcast format (when done well) always intrigues me. (I love Only Murders in the Building, which uses it quite effectively, though it’s a comedy.)

    Do we call your husband Lord Tessa? He did a great job. Thank you both.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great reviews, I will post mine tomorrow, about Dark Waters. I have finally finished it, but I didn’t like the way women were portrayed. They were either weak, or described badly by colleagues.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful reviews of these books, Tessa! I’m mostly intrigued by Antimatter blues and how it tackles the theme of survival. Thanks for sharing these with us. P.S. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say it’s awesome! 😀


  5. These are both great reviews, Tessa, although I’m not sure if they’re for me. I am not a big fan of YA set in or around schools and after reading Writerravenclaw’s comment, Dark Waters will probably make me angry.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Missing Vlarissa is a TBR for me so I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it!
    Had to add Mickey 7 though.. it sounds like an intriguing read.
    Great review(s) and thanks for sharing, hun!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve got both of these waiting for me. Sure wish I could get my hubby to review some, but he’s not much of a reader. Yours did a great job!

    Liked by 1 person

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