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I’ve read one other book by this author, “November 9”. This is decidedly not that book. I truly have no idea how this particular book was nominated for best romance novel after finishing it. After reading this “review”, you might wonder why I gave it the rating I did. To be honest, I can’t figure that out yet, and maybe I will at some point in the future, maybe not, so for now I feel the best choice is to put it in the middle of the rating spectrum. I’m on the fence about my feelings in so many different ways. If you’ve read or choose to read this book, maybe you can help me make better sense of things. To be honest, there is a part of me that does not want to admit that this novel kept me awake at night in the ways it did.

I sit here with my fingers hovering over the keyboard, and I’m not sure I know what it is that I’m supposed to type. It feels fitting. My thoughts are probably as muddied as the protagonist and struggling author in this book, Lowen.

Perhaps I should have gone with my gut and closed the book after reading the first sentence. It certainly set the tone for all that followed, in a way that I’m not sure I liked or disliked. I only know that I’m confused.

I have this thing I do with books that I read. Maybe it’s a byproduct of being an author myself. I attempt to figure out where the story will go, where it will end up, and how the author will find his or her way to that anticipated endpoint. I suppose it’s easy with the majority of stories I read, since they fall into the realm of happily (or hopefully) ever after endings. This ending, for me, falls into a purgatorial vat of utter disturbance.

So many questions remain in my mind, and all the potential truths to explain what transpired between the first and last page are still… viable. Perhaps that’s the nature of truth. It isn’t always a well-defined straight line from cause to effect. Maybe there are winding paths that intersect each other in so many confusing ways that you ultimately end up with a tangled mess of thoughts that really don’t make any sense.

As I neared the end of this novel, I literally laid awake in bed trying to understand the mindset of the characters in this book. I don’t think that was healthy, and it’s not something I’ve done with such compulsion while reading other stories. And this was knowing that this was a work of fiction. Perhaps the most telling realization of this experience is that psychological thrillers are not a part of my desired reading material. The jury is still out as to whether that’s too much of a generalization or not.

I’m usually a reader who is turned off (no pun intended) by gratuitous sex scenes in a story. And there were plenty of them in this book. But the disturbing sequence of events and the thoughts which accompanied them through the eyes of other characters pushed this otherwise negative aspect of the story for me to the back burner. That’s saying something.

I’m not sure whether this story was well-written or not. I only know that it was compelling, in ways that I still don’t know if I actually liked. It’s a book that you don’t want to read, but you have to, if that makes any sense whatsoever. It’s a novel that dives into dark elements of the human psyche from so many different angles that it makes you contemplate, in some ways, how we have survived as a species. I realize that might seem melodramatic, and perhaps it is, but such are my thoughts after finishing the final page of this book.

How do I wrap up this “review” that isn’t even really one? To some, stories are a way to escape. For me, they have always been a way to help me navigate the world. This one doesn’t do the latter. And while it might have provided an escape from reality, it’s almost as if one can’t escape the clutches of the story between its covers. It can’t be unseen or unread.

It feels fitting that the title of this novel means truth. I just don’t know whether the words inside match up with the one on the front cover. And maybe that’s the entire point of this story that will have me confused, anxious, and disturbed for many days and nights to come.

Dave’s Rating: ☕️☕️☕️


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