- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 9 hours and 44 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Macmillan Digital Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: August 10, 2017
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B071JSHQ23
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Are You Sleeping
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In a genre of a million "The Girl on the ______" and "The _______ Girl" books that can all start to blend together, this one had some unique elements and a slightly original (but not annoying or overly contrived) presentation. I know I won't look at this book in a year and not be able to remember if I read it or not--the investigation into the "solved" murder, and how it's presented (excerpts from a fictional podcast, Reddit and Twitter "screenshots") make this book stand out from the pack. The book is better than many (of this genre) I've read lately, but suffers from a few classic problems, then slows to a snail's pace about 65-75% in: the "death blow" that makes this a 3-star read instead of 4.
I'm pretty sick of female protagonists in this genre, as they all seem to be pill-popping self-destructive alcoholics having sanity crises. The lead in this book, Josie, was not bad; really only started exasperating me in the end. She spent too much of the book bemoaning all the wrongs her sister had committed against her, whaa whaa whaa over her sister's drug use and ultimate abandonment that Josie feels she was THE victim of. Natural feelings, but expressed too much, too intensely. No--too righteously! This could have been evened out with a major realization that Josie herself ran around for years drinking too much, abandoning everyone, too. Oh and lying. For someone so concerned with others' lies, Josie sure as hell never turns the camera on herself! Two passing sentences devoted to the irony of her sister's betrayals in light of Josie's own behavior did not tie up this very obviously loose end. Josie needed to bear some blame, accept responsibility for her own life, and get over her seriously outdated issues (high school was done over a decade ago--grow up!) A lead demonstrating such lack of empathy and selfishness usually gets her comeuppance one way or another. No such luck. Josie becomes increasingly not very likable, as you wait for her to recognize her hypocrisy at some point in her endless self-pity ruminations, and it just never happens.
Also the curse of the "too-perfect boyfriend", Caleb. Seriously, this one tops them all! Instead of the usual handsome, sensitive-but-manly, eternally patient and understanding RICH AND SUCCESSFUL perfect boyfriend, Caleb is the handsome, sensitive-but-manly, eternally patient and understanding DEDICATED SELFLESS HUMANITARIAN WORKER perfect boyfriend! Wow, as far as fictional "too perfect boyfriends" go, the only way to be MORE perfectly perfect would be to make him a humble billionaire on top of that! God, he's so two-dimensional, why not just add on a few billion in the bank for kicks? Yeah, I like Caleb, what's not to like? He is too perfect to have even a single bad quality! Also, this "too-perfect boyfriend" is too perfect to actually DO anything to further the story along. Finally concluded he exists just to let us know Josie is "good" and to validate Josie's every action and every emotion. A wasted character and a loose end. God, if you're gonna make a caricature, USE IT.
The biggest general problem of this book is the pacing. It took me a bit to realize this, as the podcast excerpts and screenshots break up the story. Overall, they are used well and add to the book, but they do allow the story to drag towards the 65% mark, which is also about the point Josie needed to start showing some character development. The book drags, then wraps up in the last 5%, paced just like a Lifetime movie! Token effort is made to ramp down from the climax, but it is SERIOUSLY token. Literally like 8 pages of the characters waiting to find out what will happen next. Um, I'm reading the book, I don't need them to describe that to me, I'm DOING IT! Could've used that time to wrap up some loose ends or maybe drop something unexpected about characters' future plans, but no, we get pages of reading about them sitting, pacing, calling for updates, WAITING.
Note to editor: you need to work with this author on ending a book better! Gave me too much time in the end to get bored and the characters started grating on me. Due to the pace and (lack of) character- and story-development of the last quarter of this book, I took it down a whole star, so, had this book been consistent throughout, it would've been a 4-star review. Instead, it gets an average 3-stars.
***Okay, and here's one issue I can never let pass, not in "In A Dark, Dark Wood", and not in this book, not ever: Seriously, who fights over a high school boyfriend for over a decade??? Do these authors have no social sensibilities??? Most of us graduate high school then realize the dramatics of those four years were completely inconsequential. Come on!
This is another book based around someone hiding from their past. What sets it apart from all the others is that it delves deeper and covers more subjects just than this. We have the media involvement which is predominately a podcast but this is coupled together with the now very topical use of social media and there are examples of this dotted sporadically throughout the text, complete with scarily accurate comments both good and bad.
Josie hasn't had a good time of things. Her father was murdered, witnessed by her twin Lanie on whose evidence, the man responsible was convicted and imprisoned. Their mother then left them in the hands of their Aunt when she left to join a cult. No wonder Josie changed her name and moved to escape it all. Then, one day all her nightmares come at once when investigative journalist Poppy Parnell (great name) re-opens the case in the form of a podcast. The man convicted has always protested his innocence and Poppy believes that there is more to the case than originally came to light. Then Josie's mother dies and she is forced to lie to her current boyfriend Caleb who knows nothing of her past, as she returns home to face her past and, in doing so, also face her sister, her twin, once close, now exiled. What will she find when she gets there and will it eventually lead to the truth?
This book lead me round the houses and then some, the author skillfully weaved a tale that had me meekly following every twist and turn as, quite early on, I gave up trying to second guess. The characters were delightful, all in different ways. Some I connected to immediately, others took a while and the odd one, well, I had enough in the bag that the odd one didn't hurt at all. I especially liked Aunt A and her daughter Ellen. I also really enjoyed some of the character interactions both positive and negative, and there were some whose development along the way was so well done that the majority came across as completely credible. Obviously, you're not really supposed to like the baddies in books, in this case one of them being Poppy, as some of the things she did to get her story were a little sneaky as well as the way she spun some innocuous things into being something big, but at the end of the day, she has a job to do and I guess she did it very well. The one I didn't really connect with was Caleb, for what reasons I have no idea but to me he didn't quite work.
As well as the ending, the author delivered shock after shock throughout the book. Boy did she put her characters through the mill as well as me as a reader and I lost count of the number of times my jaw dropped or I held my breath as another one landed in front of me.
The narrative flits n time back to before the murder, just after and then to the present day. Sometimes I find it hard to follow these multiple timeline books but i found this one very easy to get to grips with and never got lost. I loved how the past was injected/uncovered at just the right. times in the present to move the story along a bit further.
All in all another cracking debut, can't wait to see what the author offers up next time.
My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.