Reviews@365 Monika Patel, My Year in Books #3

Book reviews

1. The Choice by Nicholas Sparks
After reading some intense novels, I decided to take a break and go light. Choice starts out as light-hearted but grapples with a serious issue. I did not enjoy the novel much and skim read it towards the end. Initially it was a story book setting. Everyone was too good, too perfect. The locales were picturesque and even the ‘hitch’ in the perfect love affair was easily surmountable. I kept wondering what could ruin this perfect love story? And then the twist arrived. It was packaged so it was not easy to fathom initially and the writer’s way of jumping back and forth in time was a bit annoying. I have nothing against that style and have read other novels where it has been used effectively, but it jarred in this book. And the twist did not sit well with me. Not because I am squeamish but more because I have definite views on the topic and I feel Spark’s approach was a cop out. He needed to take a stand but was not brave enough. I do not think I will pick up another Sparks book too soon. This book was made into a movie, which I believe was possibly the motive of the writer.

2. In The Woods by Tana French
Inty introduced me to this author by Inty and I am hooked.I love her writing. She paints with her words so I can vividly imagine what is happening. Her story is gripping. In fact, I bought the other four in the series too. I believe characters’ dip in and out and I am a sucker for sequels, prequels and the like. Having said that, I have to admit I felt cheated at the end of this book. Mainly because she does not go with the norm. How I expect the book to end and how she ends it are mutually exclusive. I was stunned. There was no closure but the more I reflect, is that not what life is? There are no easy answers and so much goes unanswered. It’s exactly how she has laid it out in the book. No happily ever after love story, no mysteries solved because life’s not like that. She redefines how we read, has a great grip on human psyche and her characters are well conceptualized, flaws and all. I stayed up till 2am to finish the book. Looking forward to the others. Yippee four more. Bliss.

3.The Likeness by Tana French
I was all set for French to pull the carpet from under me and give me no closure in this book too but she surprised me. The book had its moments: predictable in some cases, shocker in some. But she keeps us gripped. I was also lulled into the idyllic world of Lexie Madison and willed for it not to end. Pulled another ‘almost through the nighter’ to finish off this book too. Tana French has such a great command on language and on setting scenarios. I feel like a picture is moving in front of my eyes as I read her books. And she tells a tale. Her characters are not perfect humans. Their flaws are there for all to pick and poke and she makes no excuses. Cassie’s decision at the end surprised me. Wonder if she is in any of the other books for me to see what she does eventually. I do not read any of the other book descriptions till I finish my book to keep that element of surprise and for something to look forward to.

4. Faithful Place by Tana French
Back to that feeling she cheated me again. There is closure. The case is solved but it left a bad feeling. She sure knows how to sucker punch you again. Its life. Its reality. Take it or lump it. And she is brilliant. Tana French has that knack of drawing you into the life of her character. You invest in them. You feel their joy you feel their pain. You live their life. She has a pulse on how families interact; dysfunctional or not. But here’s the catch; you know it will be over soon and that is actually not a happy feeling. One thing I know from reading her previous books, she will pick a character for her next book. I loved Frankie Mackey here as much as I was not too sure about whether I approved of him before. I do not want to know who it will be: Scorcher, Moran, Quigley or maybe even O’Kelly. It’s my little suspense story going! But the fun is in guessing who and now that I am on book four, I know. And I had shortlisted the character. Yes!

5. Broken Harbour by Tana French
Oh boy oh boy Tana French what can I say? I kind of guessed whodunit early on but you kept the suspense till the end so I had another long night to discovery. However, despite no surprises there, it was intriguing how you analyzed characters brilliantly yet again. My one disappointment is Richie Curran. You humanized him. He was perfect. I loved him. Loved how a kid from the low life was doing good. And then boom. I shut this book and immediately peeked into book 5. Needed to know who you were bringing back since all avenues seemed closed after this book. Love the surprise and looking forward to book 5. I broke my rule and checked out book 6. So I will now relish this book all the more knowing who is to follow. Murder squad however has serious issues. I wonder why there is such burn out. I guess it has to be like that but I feel sad that it happens to most of your detectives. Life takes its toll.

6. The Secret Place by Tana French
Wow, this month I have not read that much but finished the fifth Tana French last night. I have been busy with my apartment search and my week in NYC did not give me much time to read. But I was also trying to savour the last book. I did not want to finish it too quickly. I would only read it when I knew I could get a substantial amount read. I think this is one of the best ones I read. Set in a girls boarding school, I was shocked at how teenage girls think, behave and what they can do. And I was a teenage girl once too! It is so steeped in reality, it is scary. I also love the way she wrote it. She went between two time periods; before the murder and a year later. And the suspense keeps building. True we do find out who the murderer is before the last pages but she keeps writing to ensnare you further into the psychology of the incident. And finally, satisfied you know it all, you do not! I enjoyed seeing Stephen Moran again and I find it commendable how French builds a partnership. She does it with each of her books. In some it does not end too well and in some it does. Antoinette Conway is interesting and her rapport with Moran was treated with finesse. Mackey is back and I almost hated him in this. I am still unsure how I feel about him. But he is a great Dad and for that I respect him. The next book is due soon but since I will not get a hardback, it will be a while until I can get the paperback version. So it’s goodbye to Tana French for now. I need a light-hearted book after these marathon psychology 101 sessions.

Monique Patel

Monique Patel

Monika Patel – Monique to her friends – is now a permanent resident of New York City, but her heart is permanently in Pune, her home for 28 years.
Monique Patel

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