Review: Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

“This is simply one of the nastiest and most disturbing thrillers I’ve read in years. In short: I loved it, right down to the utterly chilling final line.” —Gillian Flynn

This is a love story. Mike’s love story.

Mike Hayes fought his way out of a brutal childhood and into a quiet, if lonely life, before he met Verity Metcalf. V taught him about love, and in return, Mike has dedicated his life to making her happy. He’s found the perfect home, the perfect job, he’s sculpted himself into the physical ideal V has always wanted. He knows they’ll be blissfully happy together.

It doesn’t matter that she hasn’t been returning his emails or phone calls.
It doesn’t matter that she says she’s marrying Angus.

It’s all just part of the secret game they used to play. If Mike watches V closely, he’ll see the signs. If he keeps track of her every move he’ll know just when to come to her rescue…

A spellbinding, darkly twisted novel about desire and obsession, and the complicated lines between truth and perception, Our Kind of Cruelty introduces Araminta Hall, a chilling new voice in psychological suspense.

Well, this was a twisted little tale. Based off of my experience with similar books, I expected Mike to be your standard sociopath, but I didn’t really feel he was. He has some obvious mental health issues and while he did lack empathy for most people and situations, he didn’t lack ALL empathy. I mostly just felt bad for his poor, delusional life. However, I was pretty much on his side the whole time and I don’t even feel uncomfortable saying that.

I did not care for Verity at all. Never getting her POV, I’m not really sure how much of what she said was true. I think Mike read way too much into what she said and assigned meaning to her words that weren’t true, but she was still not a good person. I thought she was purposefully cruel where Mike just took all of his cues from her and didn’t seem to know better. I also thought for how well she knew him, she had to have known how some of her actions would seem to him. I kind of spent the whole book waiting for her to go down.

I felt like this book was much longer than it needed to be. Dude, we get it. You love V and you want to be with her and you’re playing an elaborate game. It just went around and around like that for far too long. Additionally, instead of traditional chapters, the story was told in three very large parts and I think that contributed to making it feel long. I did enjoy Part 3 of the book much more than the first two parts, though.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Our Kind of Cruelty, but I didn’t love it. I thought it went on a little too long and did not find the story quite as compelling as similar books. However, I did really like the final part of the story and I liked Mike. This book wouldn’t be for everyone, but there is definitely a niche audience for it that will love it.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

 

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Review: The New Neighbors by Simon Lelic

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

What if your perfect home turned out to be the scene of the perfect crime?

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.

Because someone has just been murdered. Right outside their back door.

And now the police are watching them…

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

The New Neighbors will be available April 10, 2018. 

I found The New Neighbors to be a pretty standard psychological thriller (and I’m using the word “thriller” loosely). The writing wasn’t bad, but I just found myself pretty underwhelmed with the plot and the characters.

I thought the synopsis sounded pretty intriguing. I thought the house and the neighborhood was going to provide a really creepy atmosphere. However, I don’t feel like the house played that big of a role. In the beginning there was a good deal of description of it, but I felt like after being told it was creepy a couple of times, that was kind of it. And the “grisly discovery in the attic” was a pretty big letdown, as well.

I’ve seen lots of reviews talking about the journal formatting, but it didn’t really work for me. In the first part of the book we get alternating 1st person POVs from Jack and Syd and we’re told they’re writing everything down so they can hand it over to the police. I was never sure if there were parts of those chapters that were supposed to be regular narrative or if everything we were reading was supposed to be a journal. With few exceptions, it just didn’t read like journal entries. It read as very straightforward regular narration. In the second half of the book they are done with the journaling and the style was not any different than the first half. I thought that Jack and Syd’s voices were very distinct in the very beginning, but as the book went on, they sounded exactly the same.

I didn’t think the “surprises” were done very well. A lot of things are alluded to throughout the book that are supposed to help build suspense, but when things were finally revealed I just didn’t find them to be very impactful or surprising. To be honest, I just felt let down by the direction the “mystery” went. I found the ending very underwhelming.

Overall, The New Neighbors was a little disappointing to me. The main idea and the writing itself weren’t bad, but the formatting, the characters, and the progression of the plot were lacking. I think people who don’t read a lot of this genre and like character-driven stories would probably enjoy this a little more.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2.5 Stars