Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Review: 'Someone You Know' by Olivia Isaac-Henry

Aah, family! As Tolstoy said, 'Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way'. The difficulties of family have filled countless books and I have read a fair few of them across a wide variety of genres. But it's thrillers and mystery novels that really excel to bring out both the best and worst about family, which is why I am utterly loyal to novels like Someone You Know. Thanks to Avon Books UK and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Pub. Date: 04/02/2019
Publisher: Avon Books UK

You can trust your family, can’t you…?
Tess Piper was fourteen when her adored twin sister Edie disappeared. 
She has spent the last twenty years building a life away from her fractured family, desperate to escape the shadow of the past. 
Only now she needs to confront the huge hole her sister’s disappearance left in her life, because a body has been found. The police are shining a spotlight on the Piper family. And secrets are about to surface. 
After all, it’s common knowledge that more often than not, these crimes are committed by someone close to the victim. Someone they trust. Someone they know… 
What really happened to Edie Piper?
A lot of the themes in Someone You Know are staples fot he genre. There are a lot of family secrets/scandals, a beloved twin/sister/best friend/mother is missing/has been missing/is dead and now our protagonist, who always has self confidence issues and drinks/smokes too much, has to find out the truth if she is every to truly live her life. If it is set in the UK then she is currently working creatively in London but has to return to her small home town to solve the mystery. (Her co-workers are almost always horrible people.) I'm not going to lie, I love those kinds of stories. I read them avidly and no matter how often the tropes and twists and turns are repeated, they still delight me. I think part of the charm of thrillers and mystery novels is exactly how predictable they are, while constantly shocking us.

Someone You Know is a roller coaster ride, but one where you're never entirely sure you trust the ride. The novel has a lot of promise and I was very intrigued by the blurb. Unfortunately it didn't quite meet my expectations. It follows all the expected tropes and does so quite interestingly, but the novel is confusing. I was never entirely sure just how much time was passing, I'm pretty sure there were timeline errors here and there, and many of the characters didn't feel entirely fleshed out. There are some great plot twists towards the end, but while one of them wasn't presented with the gravitas it deserved, the other left me utterly disappointed since there had been no build up. In the end I feel Someone You Know would have benefited from a harsher editor, who would have taken some gardening shears to parts of the novel. Isaac-Henry creates some interesting moments with her characters, most of which are not likeable but realistic. But in the end I didn't find myself connecting to any of them, which meant I sometimes found myself continuing to the end just for the sake of it, not because I was absolutely intrigued.

As far as I can tell, Someone  You Know is Olivia Isaac-Henry's first novel. The main points where this shows is in the many sub-plots throughout the novel. Her main story is solid, but so much else is going on that you end up unable to care about any of it because you're overwhelmed. Isaac-Henry tells the story of the twins by flitting back and forth between the past, told by Edie, and the present, told by Tess. This is a great set up that could have brought a lot of emotion to the novel, showing us the deep bond the twins might have had despite their differences. We didn't really get that, unfortunately, but the idea is there. There are a lot of great ideas in Someone You Know, which I would say is the most important thing. I hope that in her future novels Isaac-Henry improves on the execution of those ideas, at which point I'm confident she'll give us a great novel. For now, Someone You Know is a great holiday read, a book you can race through and experience the thrills without getting to invested.

I give this novel...

2 Universes.

Someone You Know had a lot of promise and a great set up. Unfortunately Isaac-Henry loses the way here or there, which means I walked away from her novel slightly disappointed. For those looking for a quick read, Someone You Know will give you exactly what you need. Meanwhile I'll keep an open mind for Olivia Isaac-Henry's next novel!

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