I got this free as an Amazon First Reads, and while I thought Schumann's writing was strong and some interesting story elements were there, the book - as a whole - needed the strong (or perhaps stronger) hand of an editor. I'd give it a 2.5, and while I was unable to complete the book (it just couldn't hold my attention, unfortunately) I'd be willing to give Schumann's next effort a try.
Twenty-four year old Katie Gregory's childhood best friend Lulu accused Katie's father of sexual assault, and -- as he is being released after serving years in prison -- Katie must grapple with the truth of the past. There seemed to be pacing issues, in part because there was a wealth of detail and description that didn't always serve the character development or the plot. At times, descriptions were inserted in places that didn't feel organic; they actually slowed down what should have been faster pacing. At times, there were backstories or past events that seemed unnecessary -- once again -- because it didn't serve the plot or the characters.
I tend to enjoy slow pacing and deviations from the forward motion of the plot, as long as the author is serving up interesting meditations about the themes of a book. Unfortunately, that didn't seem to be the case with this book, in my opinion, so what I think was lacking were some much-needed cuts so that the story moved faster.
I'm definitely glad I gave this book a try though, and I'd be willing to read whatever Schumann writes next.
So, this book gets a capital T for Twist because OH MY GOD. I thought I saw something coming, but in the end, the reveal was way crazier than I imagined. The book is narrated by a psychotherapist named Theo Faber who is captivated by Alicia Berenson, a former artist and current patient in a psychiatric unit in North London who hasn’t uttered a single word since she shot her husband in the face five times, killing him.
You know, typical married life, am I right?
I found Michaelides’s writing to be well-paced and riveting, which makes me sort of hate him (even though I’ve never met him) since this is his debut novel. The characters were drawn beautifully, psychologically speaking, and I really enjoyed the POV of Theo, the narrator, since we got to see his clinical take on everyone he came into contact with. Yes, therapists DO always analyze everyone, all the time. You know the saying, 'if you are a hammer, everything is a nail with some kind of childhood trauma…'
I loved that the characters had strong, psychological underpinnings based on their childhoods, since you don’t always find character histories so sharply drawn in thrillers. The story, which was told through the perspective of both Theo’s POV and the diary of Alicia, was definitely a page-turner, and I read almost the entire thing on one lazy Sunday afternoon. And where the story went at the end was, WOW. Truly an incredible twist; the kind that makes you go back and reread things to figure out how the hell he (Michaelides) did that, then – perhaps – hate him even more.
My only slight complaint with the book is that some of the dialogue amongst the therapists seemed a bit too uninformed and lacking scientific rigor, which took me out of the story at times. For example, I find it hard to see a licensed clinical psychotherapist, with years of experience, saying something along the lines of, ‘she is up and down a lot, like a borderline.’ Naw, as they used to say on In Living Color, homie don’t play that. Therapists, when talking to each other, use words like comorbidity and sequelae, so that when others overhear them, those others are reminded that they are lesser mortals. Seriously, though, I think some more specificity and rigor in the way the therapists communicated with each other about the symptoms and behaviors of their patients would have helped make the world a bit more believable.
Truly, that is the only thing I can find to complain about in this thriller. I really enjoyed it and will probably reread it in the near future, as a case study in highly effective pacing, timing and plotting.
I was seeing people go crazy over this book on Goodreads, so I read it. I’m unfamiliar with Colleen Hoover, who typically writes New Adult Romance, which isn’t really my schtick. But I read that this was an insane, heart racing thriller/mystery, so I thought I’d check it out and OMG I couldn’t put the damn thing down.
To be clear, this is not literature with a capital “L,” but this is a page-turning, racy and raunchy thriller written at a master level. And the MC, Lowen, is written incredibly well. She reminds me of one of the twisted, neurotic characters in the work of the horror master Shirley Jackson, and she’d have to be, to stay in the situation she’s thrust into. I really love this character and how messed up and flawed, yet likeable, she is.
Without giving to much away, I’ll just say that the set up for the story is BRILLIANT, creepy and terrifying. It’s 18+ for a reason: there’s definitely some raunchy sex scenes and brutal and disturbing content. I normally don’t go for that type of thing, but this is soooo good, I went for it.
Hoover’s writing sucked me right in (pun intended), and I felt like I was there, trapped right in the situation along with Lowen. I will say that, given the brilliance of the set up, I thought Hoover could have gone farther with the build toward the climax, and I was a little (but only a wee bit) disappointed with the twist at the end. BUT there was so much skill in the storytelling that it had me guessing a number of different outcomes that proved not to be the ACTUAL outcome, which, in the end, is the goal of a book like this, right?
This was a thrilling read, and if Hoover writes more in the thriller genre, I’ll be the first in line to read it!
The writing in this sophomore effort is just as fantastic as McManus’s debut, One of Us is Lying. You definitely feel like you’re in good hands when you’re reading her work. But in Two Can Keep a Secret, the story elements are not as tight and the interesting character depth doesn’t quite seem to be there.
Again, McManus’s writing flows BEAUTIFULLY, but some of the plotting and characters in this book seem like ideas, consciously placed, that don’t all fit together. Red herrings shoved in here and there that dangle loosely by the end. Events that you are led to think are related (and they should be because it’s a mystery, for crying out loud), then they aren’t, so you end up feeling a bit cheated. I was totally sucked into the build of the mystery, but once the reveals started happening, I felt disappointed.
As an example of some of the ‘ideas’ that seem stuck in but don’t quite fit, let me put forth the theme park near the small town the MC, Ellery, is visiting named, “Murderland,” then renamed “Fright Farm” after a murder actually happened on its property. So, I grew up in a small town and let me be clear: THERE ARE NO THEME PARKS IN SMALL TOWNS. In our small town, we had a couple of little restaurants and one movie theater, that played one movie, usually for an entire month at a time.
We were bored out of our tiny minds. People cow tipped. People went to the little mall on the outskirts of town and walked around. People huffed paint. (So I’ve been told). Believe me, if there was a theme park in our town, or any of the small towns around us, we’d have been there every night, with or without paint thinner.
So to have a theme park in a small town that is spooky and scary and actually named ‘Murderland,’ I just couldn’t believe it. And, if you’re going to include that, you might as well fully use it, play it up and make it campy, right? But she didn’t do that, so I was left feeling a little confused.
If you haven’t read McManus yet, then I’d recommend One of Us is Lying instead. It’s still got some stereotypes and H.S. clichés, but the characters have some very interesting depth and complexity, and the plot and pacing is excellent. Plus, it had me on the edge of my seat until the very last page.