Publishing Info: 2016 by Mulholland Books
Star Rating: 2/5
Book Cover Summary:
A few little lies never hurt anyone. Right?
Paul has a plan. He has a vision of a better future, and he’s
going to make it happen.
If it means hiding or exaggerating a few things here and there,
no harm done.
But when he charms his way on to a family holiday . . . And
finds himself trapped among tensions and emotions he doesn’t
understand . . .
By the time he starts to realise that however painful the truth
is, it’s the lies that cause the real damage . . .
Well, by then, it might just be too late.
WARNING: This review contains spoilers relating to the plot of this novel.
A devastating twist is not enough to save this lacklustre thriller that doesn’t give me enough reasons to want to turn to the next page.
When I started this novel, I gave myself two weeks at the most to finish this. It has taken me nearly a month. This fact alone highlights my thoughts about lie with me.
A thriller to me indicates a book that makes me hungry to see what comes next and due to the uneven pacing, that feeling doesn’t arrive until the final act. For over 200 pages there isn’t a great deal that happens and I am left wondering how on earth the central character (I don’t think protagonist is an accurate term in this case) gets to the state the readers are teased with in a single paged prologue. I can see what the author was aiming for; she gives us subtle clues that we can see clearer after the huge twist is revealed. Unfortunately, there is subtle and then there is a plot that is at a crawl.
The pacing of the plot would probably have been bearable had we been provided with more colourful and fleshed out characters and situations. However, there is no colour. The sunny Greek island upon which most of the novel is set feels bleak and dirty, a dark underside to the tourist-friendly version many are used to. The characters are no better, a dysfunctional family that provides neither warmth nor pathos. While a good deal of the plot is reserved for relationships between the characters, I am left not caring about the majority of them and that isn’t good when the narrative isn’t going anywhere.
The only major positive I can find is the devastating twist towards the end of the novel that I honestly did not see coming. Even then there are faults. The impact is so big that it completely obliterates all of the subtlety that went previously. Another failure of the ending is that it doesn’t give readers a choice of which side they should be on. We are manipulated to side with someone who frankly is unlikeable and potentially a pathological liar, yet his final fate is too harsh. I also didn’t like how all of the subtle plot points returned to make the twist yet more powerful, but was in a way that felt unbelievable.
There is an epilogue of the narrator telling readers (for he has been writing this all down) that he maybe deserved everything he had coming to him, in a sense trying to justify the plot. A more ambiguously moral background to the narrator would have been better so readers could decide for themselves. Ironically, the characterisation is the only part of the book that is lacking in grey areas.
As a minor side note, I loved how, before I started the novel, I was smashed in the face with an overload of positive reviews. I understand marketing but there is about two or three dozen on the back page and in the pages preceding the start. This may have made my negative feelings towards this novel all the more strong. Definitely not one I will be returning to, unless I am deprived of sleep and need something to knock me out.