So, I’ve read more books so far this year than I usually have time to (YAY taking a semester off from school) but I have not felt moved to review each and every one of them. I decided, that in fairness, I would do a mini review of some of the other books I’ve read so far in order to share my opinion.
The Impossible Knife of Memory
by Laurie Halse Anderson
For the past five years, Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.
Let me first start by saying I love Laurie Halse Anderson; Speak and Catalyst are on my All Time Favorites List, however, I felt like this fell short of what it could have been. The look at the protagonist, Hayley, and her father’s relationship felt somewhat contrived at best. Andy is an Iraq war veteran that obviously suffers from PTSD but appears to be unwilling to seek treatment for it. Granted, that does happen with many vets. I’m sure it does, but this felt forced. Hayley, in the midst of her teen years, appears hostile and excessively judgmental–which, is to be expected for most teens, I suppose. But, it frustrated me greatly. I felt this novel could have really been a huge initiator for conversations within families about the effects of PTSD and the relationships that can dissolve around them but instead it ended up with quite a bit of focus on the “hog guy who obviously likes her”. Quite frankly, I cannot even recall what his “secret” was. Apparently, it wasn’t that memorable. In short, I wanted this to be so much more than it was but… I suppose it’s a good start.
by Gillian Flynn
Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls.
As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming.
This was my very first Gillian Flynn read and I honestly could not put it down. I think I read it over the course of a day or so and I would absolutely recommend this to anyone that enjoys a thriller. It did not disappoint! I won’t give too much away here but I will say this: typically I can determine the direction of the plot without a lot of foreshadowing but this one caught me completely by surprise. I love a great psychological thriller and this definitely had some hard hitting psych moments that, as a former psych student, made me want to sit down with Camille and dissect her entire life. A definite must-read for thriller fans.
The Silent Wife
by A.S.A. Harrison
Jodi and Todd are at a bad place in their marriage. Much is at stake, including the affluent life they lead in their beautiful waterfront condo in Chicago, as she, the killer, and he, the victim, rush haplessly toward the main event. He is a committed cheater. She lives and breathes denial. He exists in dual worlds. She likes to settle scores. He decides to play for keeps. She has nothing left to lose.
Okay, well. Let me go ahead and save you the trouble–don’t bother reading this. It is not a thriller by any shape or form. In fact, on the first page of the story you’ll see the words, “…A few short months are all it will take to make a killer out of her.” Which might work if you’re Donna Tartt and can follow with 550+ pages of suspense and intrigue but this book falls sadly short of that. Most of all, it felt rushed. The characters did not feel developed in any way. And, forgive me, I do hate to speak ill of the dead but this entire book felt like it wasn’t a full fledged attempt. It read like a rough draft before the characters have been fully fleshed out and details were added.
Jodi, the “silent wife” is pretty pathetic. She lives off her husbands considerable income, does practically nothing all day and works as a “psychologist”–to which I will say HA. HA. because, no. Choosing your patients based on the ease with which you can handle them is bullshit. Excuse my language. (Jodi refuses patients with drug addiction problems, eating disorders and pretty much any legitimate mental illness.) Her husband, a bratty child of a man routinely cheats on her and she doesn’t seem to care. Except where she does in this one case and decides to kill him? Like I said, there is no suspense. There is no thrill. The characters are weak. The plot line is weak. I truly only finished the book because I wanted to see if it ended as badly as I predicted. (And, yes. It does.) The statement that the author did research for this novel must surely be a joke. She seriously uses Freudian theories that have long since been antiquated in the real realm of psychology. Ugh.
This was A.S.A. Harrison’s debut novel before her passing last April. (My regrets to give such a terrible review.)