Getting back into the swing of things each week is hard. So is finding the quiet time to write a review over the weekend. In order to ease out of the weekend, I’ve decided to begin my blogging week with a mini review.
For me, the summer of 2015 has been a season for psychological thrillers. I’ve tried reading other things, but these are the only things that have kept my attention. So, I’ve been combing my shelves for more. I picked up The Book of You while I was with a friend in Florida. It felt good to read a book from my shelves, but I’m not sure the reading experience was worth the price of a hard cover.
Harper ~ May 6, 2014 ~ 368 pages
The Book of You was packaged perfectly. I discovered this when I removed the dust jacket before reading it. The velum dust jacket contained the title, the author’s name, and the image of the woman. The hard cover itself revealed only the image of the man. Even the spine was stark white. It made the book feel creepy to the touch, which set the mood nicely for the story. From the first page we see that Clarissa, a university professional nearing 40 who is away from work on jury duty, is documenting the frequent, unwanted, and increasingly menacing attention of Rafe, a professor who works at the same school. As Rafe is always watching Clarissa, his shadow is ever present on the spine of the book.
Unfortunately, Rafe’s shadow and those first few pages of the book were its best aspects. While the things that Rafe did were in and of themselves terrifying, Clarissa’s reasons for not involving the police or even her family or neighbor just didn’t work. When she was a teenager there was an instance of theft that she reported that was handled badly by the police. If she were still a young woman, I could see how that might color the way she viewed the police, but she was a much older woman now and there is a huge difference in reporting petty theft versus date rape and possible drugging. While she may have been smart in other aspects of her life, she consulted paper pamphlets instead of engaging people who care about her. I found this frustrating and the more often she neglected to do obvious things she could have done, such as reach out to key people she interacted with on a regular basis, the further I distanced myself from the novel. It’s hard to be creeped out when your nitpicking character choices.
Rafe was a good villain. He was psychotic and twisted in the most disgusting ways.* I even liked Clarissa, despite the fact that her behavior better fit a woman 10 to 15 years younger. Together the two just didn’t mix. If Clarissa wasn’t as sharp as she should have been, I can’t see what it was about her that interested Rafe. In the end, I was glad the book was finally over. I didn’t find the ending bad, but I didn’t find that it made it worth finishing, either. It wasn’t the perfect summer thriller I was looking for, but Claire Kendal does have great potential. Here’s hoping her next novel will keep me up all night.
* The sexual content in this book was much more disturbing, sadistic, and graphic than I am comfortable with reading. In fact I wished I had followed my instincts and stopped reading when that development occurred. As that is a matter of personal preference, I’m just including that as a footnote to my review. Use that information as you will.