By Clare Mackintosh. Grade: A
I’ve gone up and down through the near-thousand reviews of this book on Goodreads, Amazon and Flipkart to look for one voice that agrees with me. However, reviews, opinions on the type of write my nursing paper and various other searches for help you can go to specialists who understand the relevant field. I didn’t. So I’m going to take a deep breath and say it anyway. WHAT A clichéd, SILLY, OVERDONE DEBUT.
A tragic accident. It all happened so quickly. She couldn’t have prevented it. Could she?
In a split second, Jenna Gray’s world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.
Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating . . .
Don’t get me wrong – a blurb by Peter James and a comparison to Gone Girl and A Girl on The Train got me all excited too. The book begins off with a car accident that leaves a five year old Jacob dead and his mother crying on the street as the driver rushes away without stopping.
The story continues with a female starting over, struggling to get her life together after a major accident. (Draw what conclusions you would, I am trying to keep this spoiler-free). She has moved to the small coastal town of Penfach and has rented an old broken down cottage. There, by the sea, she starts settling in, makes a home and builds a career. Scared, timid Jenna who jumped at her own shadow and woke up every morning with the sickening sound of a car killing a child starts relaxing into her skin, gets a dog and meets a man.
Until she is arrested for killing Jacob. Wayyyttt, what? (Okay so I did reveal the spoiler a bit. It’s not like anybody reads these reviews. Much.)
Pros: The beginning was all it was promised. The characters are extremely well-sketched, and the writing was intriguing and eloquent. The story takes its time to build up, but it is so smoothly written that you don’t mind the author taking her time. Till 55% of the book, I was sure it was going to be my 2015 favourite.
The book is told in two first person perspectives, and I really liked how she made both the voices unique. One of them is mentally sick, and it is very interesting to read how he justifies the things he does in his head; how it is always the other person’s fault that he loses control.
Cons: Overdone, clichéd plot, completely inspired by Gone Girl and Girl on The Train. As soon as this comparison came into the picture, I quickly predicted the Big Plot Twist. And after the first one, the second became obvious after another fifty pages.
After Jenna finally confesses it was Ian who ran over the boy, and she took the blame because she was scared and someone had to own up, they release her. And then she is allowed to go back alone to her cottage in the middle of nowhere, KNOWING there is a mad man out there out to kill her who HASN’T BEEN CAPTURED YET. (Pardon the caps, but this deserves it). And Jenna’s boyfriend, knowing Jenna has suffered at the hands of a psychopath, leaves her alone to run on a stupid errand. And when the door rings, Jenna wakes up and opens it, WITHOUT CHECKING WHO IS THERE ON THE OTHER SIDE. Of course, there is a big show-down then, and Ian tortures, tortures her, and it is sickening to read, but it has been so very conveniently put there, at the end of such a smart book, that I could not bear to read it. Ruined it with that bit, Clare. Ruined it.
Some brains, please.
Also, what was with the parallel plotline of the two police inspectors working on the case? Why so many words wasted on them, especially with such a poor conflict resolution there at the end?
Verdict: Good book, with the potential of being ah-mazing, ruined by trying too hard. Oh well, forgivable for a debut, I suppose.