Others have drawn comparisons to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, and, being the natural conformist that I am, I’m not going to buck the trend. If you like your female mystery novel narrators on the unreliable side, this may be the book for you.
Which is a weird burgeoning trope, if, indeed, three books can be considered a trope. Sometimes, a culture just decides that it’s ready for something. We all consume, basically, the same information. So its not surprising that there would be considerable overlap in the work people are doing.
Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace both came up with the theory of natural selection independent of one another. Calculus was discovered by Isaac Newton and Gottfried Liebniz. DreamWorks made Antz and Pixar made A Bug’s Life. This recombinent conceptualization is fairly well documented, even if it’s not necessarily well understood.
Which leads me to wonder: what is it about the current state of our world that would make unreliable, mentally unstable women a common thread in so many of our stories?
I don’t have the answer to this question, and don’t think it’s as simple as “sexism”, but I do think it’s worth asking.
Laura Blacklock is a travel journalist tasked with reviewing the maiden voyage of a small luxury cruise ship. A chance encounter with a woman in the cabin next to hers spurs a locked-in mystery that, I think, mostly works. I’m weary of the anxious and rattled female narrator who is never quite in control of her situation, but also think it can be a serviceable means of creating tension and suspense if done well. Ruth Ware, I think, does a decent job. Laura (“Lo”) never felt like a shallow caricature to me. While I didn’t enjoy reading about yet another character who maybe drinks a little, and maybe struggles with mental health issues, and maybe doesn’t actually know what’s going on, I never felt as though I was having to suspend my disbelief to keep reading.
So that’s probably a good thing.
And, hey, this didn’t leave me feeling like I needed to take a shower, so I’ll definitely count that as a win. (And, yes, I’ll always take the opportunity to give Gone Girl a thumbs down. I still haven’t forgiven Gillian Flynn for raking my soul over hot coals.)
Reviewed 7 times in CBR history (3.2 star average rating)