Sunday, August 11, 2013

Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie

Close My EyesWhen Geniver Loxley lost her daughter at birth eight years ago, her world stopped… and never fully started again. Mothers with strollers still make her flinch; her love of writing has turned into a half-hearted teaching career; and she and her husband, Art, have slipped into the kind of rut that seems inescapable.

But then a stranger shows up on their doorstep, telling Gen the very thing she’s always wanted to hear: that her daughter Beth was not stillborn, but was taken away as a healthy infant and is still out there, somewhere, waiting to be found. It’s insane, unbelievable. But why would anyone make that up? A fissure suddenly opens up in Gen’s carefully reconstructed life, letting in a flood of unanswerable questions. Where is Beth now? Why is Art so reluctant to get involved? To save his wife from further hurt? Or is it something more sinister? And who can she trust to help her?

Ignoring the warnings of her husband and friends, Gen begins to delve into the dark corners of her past, hopeful she’ll find a clue to her daughter’s whereabouts. But hope quickly turns into fear and paranoia, as she realizes that finding the answers might open the door to something even worse than not knowing. A truth that could steal everything she holds close – even her own life.

I had high hopes for this thriller. So many reviewers found it entertaining and had such good things to say about it that I was hoping to really be immersed in the story. Which is why I was a bit disappointed when I finally finished it and could only summon a shrug as a rating.

The problem, I think, is that we don’t really get much character development. I know thrillers are not necessarily read for great characterization but for the plot, but we did need a bit more in this one. The protagonist, Geniver, has barely any personality. She jumps from idea to idea without settling on anything, and her wishy-washy attitude on every aspect of her life gets pretty tiring after a while. Her husband, Art, is a little pip-squeak of a character, as is Lorcan, the man who starts helping Geniver in finding the truth. Actually, none of the characters stand out as anything more than puppets the author uses to push the story forward.

The plot starts off with lots of intrigue, making the reader wonder how the author is going to settle all of it, but it soon loses steam. Geniver starts repeating the same questions over and over, and so many of the dialogues run on for way too long. Then there are some of the side characters and their sub-plots. One of them is Charlotte, one of Geniver’s students, who mysteriously appears and disappears throughout the novel and yet she is absolutely pointless. The novel could have easily been written without her, which means it should have been. And like her, a lot of things should have been edited out as well.

All in all, not one I’d recommend. If you want to read a good thriller, try Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Leave this one on the shelf.

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