Disclosure: I was given this novel by the author through a CBR8 giveaway in exchange for a fair review.
I received the book Friday, March 18, read half of it on the 19th, and the other half today, the 22nd. Life interfered on Sunday and Monday and I couldn’t sit down to read it, but I did spend a lot of time thinking about it.
I don’t really like using terms like “page-turner” because they’re cliche, but this one … this one really did fly by quickly. The chapters are short – each focusing on a different primary character – and I kept going “Oh, I should do (whatever). One more chapter. Wait, this one’s short. I’ll just do one more.” And that’s how I got through half the book in about an hour and a half.
The book starts in 1995 when fifteen-year-old Amy goes off with some guy. He’s older and handsome and she knows her stepfather wouldn’t approve but he’s so nice to her and he seems to really like her, so she trusts him.
Of course, she shouldn’t have trusted him. He assaults her and leaves her for dead. She ends up in a persistent vegetative state. And that brings us to 2010 and journalist Alex Dale. Alex is doing a story on persistent vegetative state and sees Amy in the ward. Alex remembers Amy’s story – they’re the same age and Alex is aware that she could have just as easily been where Amy is now. Alex (whose personal and professional lives are a mess) decides that her redemption could come from writing about Amy and hopefully closing the case.
Each chapter does focus on a different character, but the primary characters are few and each one does move the story along. There aren’t any characters where I thought “Oh I can skip these”. At about the halfway point I thought I’d figured out who attacked Amy. A little past that point I thought “Oh, wait. No. I think maybe X attacked her, but it was Y that lured her away.” A little later than that I thought “It couldn’t possibly have been Z, could it? That would’ve come out of nowhere.”
At the end, I was wrong. The red herrings were carefully placed. They were small ones. Red guppies, maybe. Carefully worded sentences that could be interpreted a few ways and in a few cases I interpreted wrong (but then thinking back, I could see what Holly Seddon had done and how easily it could have been misunderstood). So much more satisfying than getting it right early on. I don’t doubt that other people will figure it out well before the end, but these people will still keep reading to see how we get there and how the storylines are resolved for the two main characters.