I’d call this a mystery/thriller–it reminds me a lot of “Gone Girl” in its pacing, style, and themes. It’s definitely dark, and paints a bleak picture of humanity in general. At the end of the story, there’s really only one person I still liked–and he turned out to be the very person I’d suspected the most at the beginning of the story.
The premise: Amber is in a coma, but she can hear everything around her. She can’t remember how she got there, so we piece together her story in a combination of flashbacks from different time periods, what she hears in the present, her dreams in the present, and old journal entries. At each stage of the story, I guessed along with Amber what must have happened to lead her to the hospital bed, but most of my guesses turned out to be incorrect. Some of the flashback stories seemed totally unrelated, but they all tied together in the end. It was definitely creative, and held my attention throughout, although I think some of the surprises were artificial in the sense that Amber would have known what the reader did not. She simply didn’t tell us, and that seems like cheating, since we’re in her head. I thought Amber would turn out to be an unreliable narrator, given the title of the book, but that isn’t quite true: an unreliable narrator is one who tells us what happens, and while it’s obvious to the reader what’s really going on, the narrator has a completely different interpretation. Amber just doesn’t remember all the facts at first, and withholds those she does remember. But she never seems to misconstrue evidence, per se.
The material itself is pretty disturbing, but I guess you have to know you’re in for that when you pick up a book like this. The way the story is told is masterful, though, and definitely worth a read if you like stories that keep you guessing.
My rating: ****
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