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Abbie awakens in a daze with no memory of who she is or how she landed in this unsettling condition. The man by her side claims to be her husband. He’s a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative start-ups. He tells Abbie that she is a gifted artist, an avid surfer, a loving mother to their young son, and the perfect wife. He says she had a terrible accident five years ago and that, through a huge technological breakthrough, she has been brought back from the abyss.
As Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins to question her husband’s motives—and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together forever? And what really happened to her, half a decade ago?Amazon
Modern-day but in a parallel universe where there are plenty of familiar things and cultural touchstones, but there are a few unexpected bits as well. . Due to the writing style and the plot, the overall feeling of this book is kinda “ the surface is calm and pretty but what lies beneath the surface is creepy AF”
Writing Style / Plot
Warning for people who don’t like it when authors play with narrative structure in terms of Point of View or 2nd person perspective aka “you” instead of “I” or “He/she” (You are reading this review right now. If I don’t hold your attention, you will click away and not bother to finish.)
This book is written partly in the 2nd person perspective with other portions written in the “we” perspective. Also, there are two storylines in different timeframes happening as well. Part Greek chorus, part peanut gallery, the “we” voices are telling the flashback early story of Abbie’s earlier life while the 2nd person perspective is telling us what is happening in the present to you (in this case, you are Abbie).
Did you follow all that?
Also, there are a few twists and turns along the way that are very hidden in the back-of-the-book blurb.
Genre shifting twists that I can’t really talk about without spoiling anything.
Abbie (you) is sympathetic, feels authentic, and is highly believable. The “We” characters are very well written. But where Delaney shines is the depiction of a few of the side characters: Tim and Mike/Jenny. No spoilers, of course, but I really enjoyed how these characters developed over time as we and you learn more and more about them… including learning what we don’t know. T
Now… there is a villain in this book and the villain is a bit… simple. A bit mustache twirly evil. The shorthand for “theis person is an asshole” is pretty clearly shorthand, but even if it is trite, it is well executed. We all know assholes. Some have psychological issues that they refuse to address. Some are just assholes. I will leave it up to you to decide where our villain falls.
The best character in terms of realism and likeability is Danny, the autistic child. I’m not going to say that people who aren’t autistic/aren’t caretakers of autistic people can’t write believable autistic characters… that would be a gross simplification and undermine the entire point of fiction… but I will say that as I read this book I thought, “If JP Delaney doesn’t have an autistic kiddo in his life, he is doing one HELL of a job channeling a person who does.” The writing of Danny is masterful and the issues of how we treat autistic children while totally not the point of this thriller were treated as important questions that warrant deep thought and consideration. Bravo.
Oh my yes! I flew through this book and had to make myself slow down because I knew that I would miss important things if I went too fast. While there were things I figured out slightly ahead of our protagonist, there were other things I was pleased to discover along the way.
Would I recommend it?
If you have trouble with shifting perspectives, flashbacks, and the occasional red herring…. This might not be the book for you. Also, there is some pretty shity (abusive) behavior, lots of misogyny, and discussion of child abuse.
That being said, I think this book was a lot of fun to read, it was fascinating, it asked some big moral and ethical questions, and it had an ending that I found both satisfying and hella creepy. It would make for one heck of a movie.
Why THIS Book?
I celebrated an anniversary with my husband this week and decided to randomly pick a book with the word “Wife” in the title. This was the first one my roving eye found, and so I read it. Who knows how long ago it was added to my TBR or from whence it came (although there is a tiny voice in my head that is connecting it to Peggy from book club… however, (un)like Abbie, the tiny voice in my head is not always to be trusted….)
*** ASPECT Method (I created this, I used it, feel free to do the same.)
A Atmosphere: How did it make me feel? What was the world like? This might include the overall tone.
S Style: What was the writing style like? Simplistic or sophisticated? Clunky or beautiful?
P Plot/Pace: Was it engaging? Were there holes? Did it feel too rushed or too long?
E Enjoyment: Was it a chore to finish or compelling enough that I picked it over other fun activities?
C Characters: Were they believable, sympathetic, interesting?
T This? Why did I read *This* book?