Tag Archives: thriller

‘Recursion’ by Blake Crouch

Sci-fi is not my usual go-to but I sought to expand my reading horizons with this genre-bending approachable thriller. I ended up being engaged with most of it and found that fully understanding all of the science was not even necessary. This is more than a page-turner, it gets deeply emotional as well.

Two main characters New York City cop Barry and neuroscientist Helena become involved in creating technology that maps memory and helps to preserve the precious ones. Used for good, being able to re-experience significant moments such as a first kiss or the birth of a child might help humanity or those who experience memory loss. But when the technology does more than they bargained for and ends up landing in the wrong hands, it morphs into something terrifying. As reality shifts and the world begins to crumble, can anyone survive?

I enjoyed the first three quarters of this novel and then became a bit tired of the time travel and replayed stories. This is nothing like Kate Atkinson’s literary novel Life After Life, but there are parallels, and for me Atkinson did a better job of the rewinding. Even so, the book reads like a movie and it wouldn’t surprise me if it shows up on Netflix one day as a series. I would watch it.

Here’s a helpful guide for timelines, plot explainer, and memory travel rules from another blogger for this book in case your mind was boggled while reading it like mine was: click here.

‘I See You’ by Clare Mackintosh

i-see-youstarstarstarstarSometimes you just need a gripping page turner. I read much of this one on the train and because it is about women being stalked on trains, it did creep me out a little, but it also held my attention so well, I almost missed my stop! The scariest stories are usually the most ordinary, where the sinister suspect is actually someone very close to you. I See You is the second psychological thriller from this British former policewoman, and both this book and her first one called I Let You Go have met with great success. It’s the perfect beach read, even if you’re not on vacation!

One day when Zoe Walker is looking at a newspaper on the train, she is surprised to find her own photo in the classified section in an ad she did not place. The next day there is another woman in the advert, and everyday after that; a different woman each day. And some of these women have been brutally murdered or assaulted. Is this a mistake? A coincidence? A case of internet fraud? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make…? Halfway through I had three or four possible suspects identified, of course that’s the trick used in all thrillers–make many of the characters look guilty to keep you guessing till the end. The ending was surprising but the final twist was best of all!

‘Those Girls’ by Chevy Stevens

Those GirlsstarstarThis intense thriller was a big disappointment to me, even though I did finish it. I had heard about it on CBC radio’s The Next Chapter feature entitled “If you liked that, then you’ll love this.” A guest on the show is invited to suggest a Canadian equivalent to a well known bestseller. In this case it was comedian Candy Palmater recommending Those Girls as just as good if not better than Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl.

In Those Girls, three sisters are born into a terrible situation. They manage to extricate themselves from their horrible home and abusive father, but find themselves on the run. From here things go from bad to worse. Their adventures take a brutal turn and then suddenly the book jumps ahead 18 years. Now an 18 year old daughter of one of the sisters is narrating, and the story becomes brutal once again. The scenes are not graphic, but they are awful. The characters are annoyingly stereotypical and flat: the men are almost all violent abusers and the women almost always make stupid decisions.

The only thing the novel had, was plenty of suspense, but it was not the ‘twist and turn’ type of suspense that I enjoy which was the hallmark of Gone Girl. It was the ‘who is going to win in this violent scene’ type of suspense. I noticed that reviews of this author in general are quite mixed–either really good or really bad. The ones who love her books say “best thriller ever” and the rest say things like “hollow characters who behave in ways that make no freaking sense, plot development that is not even remotely believable, and disastrously bad writing.” I must admit I am in the latter camp. What thrillers have you enjoyed?

‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn

Gone GirlstarstarstarThrillers intrigue me but there’s only a handful of books that have truly made me scared, ‘Jurassic Park’ being the most memorable. While reading that one, I saw sneaky velociraptors just waiting for me around every corner, even though the movie was just silly. It was probably Michael Crichton’s ability to create a horrific yet plausible scenario. And I remember once finishing a book in our en suite bathroom after my husband had gone to bed, because I couldn’t stand being alone in the living room. It was some murder mystery – wish I could remember the title.

Somewhat in the style of S.J. Watson’s  Before I Go to Sleep, ‘Gone Girl’ is a psychological thriller with an ingenious plot. It is a smart and sassy suspense novel, not exceptionally well written, but well worth the read if you are not bothered by some crude language and adult content.  There are some very surprising twists and turns and after I reached the middle of the book,  I couldn’t put it down. Hollywood is on to it too. Reese Witherspoon has been identified for the role of Amy in the movie scheduled for 2015. Who will be the handsome Nick?

One morning a wife suddenly disappears from her home. The police suspect the husband but something feels wrong with this easy assumption. The book is narrated by both the husband and the wife so the reader can enjoy a comparison of their points of view. It becomes obvious that the five year marriage was disintegrating and Amy was afraid of her husband. She kept secrets from him and what about the persistent calls on his mobile phone? What did really happen to Nick’s beautiful wife Amy?

‘Before I Go to Sleep’ by S.J. Watson

Imagine that every morning when you wake up, your brain has erased all of the memories that were there. You don’t know who you are or where you are. The house you live in is unfamiliar and there is a stranger in your bed.

Like the movie ’50 First Dates’ Christine and her husband Ben start each day this way, basically starting over, due to Christine’s amnesia. A terrifying thought, but it gets even worse.

This thriller drew me in and though a bit repetitive in the middle, it is actually well crafted and clever and propelled me forward to the end. Who to trust, what to believe, what is true? So much depends on our memory – our relationships, our ability to love, and our sense of self.

‘Before I Go to Sleep’ is a runaway bestseller here in Britain and I would venture to guess that it will be a movie as well. I will not say more. The less you know, the better it is.

‘Sister’ by Rosamund Lupton

The British are huge crime fiction fans…me, not so much. So I tried one that was supposed to be literary as well as scary. Well, not so much…

Beatrice receives a call from London when her sister goes missing. She leaves New York and flies over to help. As Beatrice discovers what happened to Tess, she also discovers more about their relationship. The whole story is a report to the police from Beatrice, who has become the detective in her sister’s case.  So at the beginning the reader knows that a solution was found, a criminal was caught, and that Beatrice, though shaken, is ok now. Much of her narration is directed towards her sister, speaking to her, which is a bit of an annoying style.

However, I did keep reading and was turning pages because of little reveals and clues along the way. Towards the end there is a surprise and a thriller bit, but for me it was too little, too late. The sisters’ relationship was overly sentimental and seemed contrived. Can you really reconnect in new ways with someone through memory? And though there were plenty of possible bad guys along the way, there was not really enough action. So, I found it lacking on all fronts. If you have read this book and disagree, I would love to hear from you since maybe it was just the space I was in when I read it. That does happen, I did find some good reviews.  Goodreads gave it a 3.79, in my opinion that was generous.