Monday, June 22, 2015

Review: Second Life

Summary: From the New York Times bestselling author of Before I Go to Sleep, a sensational new psychological thriller about a woman with a secret identity that threatens to destroy her.

How well can you really know another person? How far would you go to find the truth about someone you love?

When Julia learns that her sister has been violently murdered, she must uncover why. But Julia's quest quickly evolves into an alluring exploration of own darkest sensual desires. Becoming involved with a dangerous stranger online, she's losing herself . . . losing control . . . perhaps losing everything. Her search for answers will jeopardize her marriage, her family, and her life.

A tense and unrelenting novel that explores the secret lives people lead; and the dark places in which they can find themselves Second Life is a masterwork of suspense from the acclaimed S. J. Watson. -- Harper

Let me preface this review by saying that I just arrived home from our annual Outer Banks vacation, and I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. I read eight books in eight days, and I'm very behind on blogging. To make matters worse, I already had a huge backlog of read books just waiting for a review. So for the next few weeks, I will try to catch up. As a result, my reviews might be a little less detailed than normal. Heck -- that might be a good thing!

One of the books that I read last week was SECOND LIFE by S.J. Watson. I enjoyed her debut novel BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP quite a bit -- you can read my review here. This book kept me guessing and definitely played with my mind. I had similar feelings about SECOND LIFE, and this novel certainly had its fair share of twists... and twisted events!

SECOND LIFE tells the story of Julia, a wife and mom who also happens to be a recovering alcoholic. Julia seems to be in control of her life despite having some pretty dark secrets from her past; however, when her sister gets murdered Julia can't rest until she figures out the "whys."

When Julia starts exploring her sister's life, she uncovers that her sister had some connections to the world of on-line dating and cybersex. Julia decides to try her hand at on-line dating and becomes involved with a very mysterious and ultimately dangerous man. As she becomes more involved with this man, she learns that he is a risk to everything she holds dear.

I devoured SECOND LIFE in less than 24 hours and I was definitely drawn into Julia's world. Julia was definitely a troubled character with a checkered past, and bits of her secrets were revealed throughout the book. Because of her past and the drinking (and drugs), I wasn't entirely sure she was a reliable narrator; however, I don't know if I'd go so far as to call her an unreliable one either. Let's just say she was a mess on so many levels, and there were many times that I wanted to shake some sense into her.

One of the things I most enjoyed about SECOND LIFE was the suspense/mystery aspect. This book was crazy with surprises and I never was quite sure about whom to trust. And because Julia was caught up with this stranger, I knew I couldn't even trust her judgment. I also really appreciated the non-stop action -- the last half of the book had a fantastic pace; and I couldn't turn the pages quickly enough

As the story progressed, I did feel as if I was figuring out all of the twists right along with Julia -- and many times before her. In some ways that was good. I enjoyed reaching conclusions about the murder and the characters, but I also thought the book was a bit predictable... even if it was only a few pages before Julia realized something. In addition, I had to wonder if Julia was even realistic as a character given how stupid her actions were and how slow she was to figure things out.

In some ways, I did feel a bit manipulated by SECOND LIFE. It often times seemed as if the twists were more for shock value than actually making sense. I also was slightly disappointed with the ending. I think it was meant to be a cliffhanger of sorts and one that readers could interpret differently, but I was just bothered that I didn't get a definitely answer.

I enjoyed SECOND LIFE and definitely recommend it to fans of suspense and mysteries. I'm worried that my review sounds a bit negative, when overall, I really enjoyed this book. While it wasn't perfect, it definitely kept my interest and managed to surprise me a few times!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read. Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


bermudaonion said...

I always feel smart when I figure out the twists and turns before the character does. This sounds good to me!

Kay said...

No, I don't think your review sounds negative. I think I can understand what you're trying to convey. These type of books often leave me feeling unsettled. I like it or find it absorbing, but I also often dislike certain characters or their actions or whatnot. And I guess that is what we are supposed to feel. I'm looking forward to reading this one. It seems to make a lot of bloggers struggle for what to say. I had that experience with Girl On The Train. :-)

Beth F said...

I was worried that my expectations were going to be too high for this ... so I appreciate your thoughts. Now I can read with the right frame of mind.