FEBRUARY 2019 ✩ 27 PAGES/DAY
WATCHING YOU, LISA JEWELL (324 PAGES)
I admit, after months of a lack of reading a good book, Watching You was like a breath of fresh air. I missed the feeling of getting totally absorbed into a book and it’s why I initially rated it 4 stars on Goodreads. After some thoughtful thinking, I decided to turn it down a notch to 3 stars. Don’t get me wrong, the book is good. It’s thought-provoking and leaves you gripping onto the pages. I felt like a dog eagerly waiting for my treat, the treat being the answer to the typical “who did it?” murder scenario.
Lisa Jewell did amazing with the main characters. I found that, over the span of the book, I got to know each main character on a personal level (and there’s around 4 central ones, so props to the author for that). I could say their motive with ease. Each character had a mystery to them that made the reader want to know more, to see what’s behind the mask, and the wait was definitely worth it. All of the characters are unique and strange in their own way and I love that. This isn’t a typical story with the same overused, bland characters. Lisa Jewell did a lot more to make them truly dynamic.
Also, I have to give props to her for suspense. I absolutely hate when something gets mentioned in a story, just to never be brought up again. There’s a certain moment that keeps on getting mentioned in the story that made me confused more than anything. I wanted to know what it meant, as did the characters, and it was a different experience to uncover the truth just as the characters do. When the murderer was revealed, I honestly felt a bit foolish for not realizing it earlier. Lisa Jewell left plenty of hints (still mad that I never figured it out), yet they were so perfectly placed that it didn’t seem like anything important. The reveal was worth the wait.
The thing that put me off was the amount of story-lines. I’m personally not a big fan of a bunch of story-lines in anything, though I do like how each plot ties back to the central idea of the murder. It was confusing. Some questions were left unanswered. I hope this isn’t a spoiler, but what was up with Beth? I need answers, Beth. Lisa Jewell put so much backstory behind the characters that I felt I was obligated to know why. Why does a character act this way? What happened in the character’s past? It ticked me off that I never got the answers I was hoping for. With such dynamic characters, us readers need more insight!
At the beginning of the book, I had to reread quite a few times to understand what was happening. There’s so many characters, so many flashbacks, and of course the story had to start with a chapter with no character or context as to make me, the reader, even more confused. It took me around ten chapters in to fully understand how the story was written. It took me around fifteen chapters to differentiate names. In between every few chapters was a police interrogation scene. I found this interesting, as it provided more context to the murder while we were reading. Here’s the confusing part: these scenes took place in the future after the murder, while we were reading up to the final scene of the murder. Some police interrogations would mention one thing, and I would excitedly flip the page in hopes of getting more context, just to find out the present story is still too far behind. The scene I mentioned appeared around five to ten chapters later. By then, the excitement I had died down drastically.
BEHIND HER EYES, SARAH PINBOROUGH (404 PAGES)
This book left me utterly speechless. I haven’t been this absorbed in a book in a long time. The mystery slowly unraveling throughout the story is something I’ve never seen before. It’s unique, different, and it works perfectly to pique my interest. I remember mentally yelling at the teacher every-time our reading session would end. I’ve practically read it all in the thriller, murder mystery department, yet I’ve never read anything relating to dreams and the afterlife. It’s amazing how they portrayed such an idea. Reading this book has left me with a vague interest in lucid dreaming in general. I can’t wait to see how the book ends!
I’ve been squirming in anticipation over the reveal the book has been gently dancing around the entirety of the time. I found out what the reveal was today, and I can’t help but be slightly disappointed. I felt as if the book – around two thirds of it through – had basically thrown the reveal in my face. I just wanted the character to confirm my suspicions. Reading the reveal confirmed that I was right for the most part, but some key components left me in awe. It wasn’t that I was amazed or thrilled, but rather I was shocked that the reveal was so typical. It’s something the main character, Adele, would definitely do, and I hate that such a minor event shaped the whole past that held the plot together. It’s lacklustre. I brewed up something a lot more sinister in my head while reading. I’m disappointed that such a character like Adele couldn’t do anything more.
I hated how Sarah Pinborough portrayed Louise, a main character that we got introduced to in the first few pages. She’s basically a damsel-in-distress, a woman longing for a man to save her from her typical life. She finds that man in David, who turns out to be her boss. I have to admit that the book is good, but their relationship is so unsettling to read. Louise knew that David was a married man. I would roll my eyes every-time they had a moment together and Louise would mentally tell herself that “this is the last time, I swear!”. Newsflash, Louise and David would crawl back to each other no matter the circumstance! Louise and David are both broken and have each other to pick up the pieces. It makes them look pathetic. Adele mentions how she changed Louise for the better, yet I don’t see it. She’s still the same woman from the beginning of the story: broken, pathetic, and longing for male attention. At least she admits it while drinking her fifth wine of the night.
The way the story plays out is really good. Sarah Pinborough did amazing with how she could hook a reader in and leave them immersed the whole way through. The chapters contained flashbacks from Adele’s point of view, and unlike Watching You, the flashbacks were properly placed and contained context I enjoyed. Adele’s past is the most important and compelling. I like how the author realized that and provided the reader the insight I needed. Despite not finishing the book yet, I believe that all of my questions have and will be answered. For such a small, handheld book, I appreciate the plot and how it was handled.
UPDATE: I just finished the book. What had initially intrigued me to read this book was the inevitable plot twist. All of the reviews were raving over the intensity and shock-value of it, minus the one review I saw that basically complained about how the twist was so obvious, and reading it just now gave me a mixed reaction. Am I shocked? Yes, I am. The twist is shocking, but that’s all the twist holds. It’s so absurd, weird, and I don’t even want to reread the book to find the hints I missed. How could someone edit this book and think “oh, you know what would be totally awesome?”, and then decide to write up a twist ending like Sarah Pinborough did. I liked the first twist. Though I’m a sucker for happy endings, this ending left me satisfied; with the way the plot was held, an ending like that isn’t disappointing. The final twist is a whole other story. It’s like Grade 7 me ending my creative piece with “it was just a dream” in a poor attempt to mess with the reader. I had to sit there for a few minutes to absorb the ending, almost trying to push it out of my mind. What a bad ending, honestly.
As I stated before, I haven’t read a good book in a long time. I find that school always manages to take over my life, and the only time I could cram in some reading was when my classes provided me with the opportunity to do so. I’m excited to finally have the time to read once again. One of my favorite experiences while reading is when you get completely immersed into the book. Since I could choose to read any book I want for my classes, getting immersed is an easy task. I read 27 pages each day. I know I can read a lot of pages everyday. My goal for next month is to maintain 20+ pages/day. People say reading fast isn’t good, but I find my form of reading to work best. I won’t “miss out” on anything if the book manages to keep my interest. Overall, the month of February was a success. I got into reading again – a hobby I greatly missed, and kept up my momentum despite being rusty from the past few months of neglect for a good book. I’m excited to continue my journey of reading!
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