Book review – Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

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I’ve read so many great books this year, so it feels weird to be posting a review that’s negative.

March’s Novel Editions box included Behind Her Eyes. The one thing I knew about it was that people were raving about the big twist at the end. I love a good twist ending, so I dove in!

At first, I was intrigued. The story centres on Louise, a single mom, and a married couple she meets: David, her new boss, and Adele, his wife. Louise met David at a bar the night before and, not knowing he was married, kissed him. Awkward! Her reaction to this and how she handled things in the first few chapters was honest and almost charming. She was embarrassed around David but held her head high, knowing she wasn’t in the wrong, and she was suitable uncomfortable about Adele’s insistence that they be friends.

I was just starting to like Louise when she decided sleep with David. And, then sleep with him again. Suddenly, we have a drunken cheater and a woman who is trying to be friends with the wife while screwing the husband. Also, the wife was getting to be annoyingly manipulative. An “evil little s**t” is what I called her on Instagram.

Despite the interesting element of magical realism (a skill that Adele taught Louise, which becomes central to the plot), I had a hard time enjoying the book after deciding that I didn’t like any of the characters. It is a page turner and I wanted to get to the big twist ending, so I was intrigued enough to keep going, but I wasn’t invested in the story and no longer cared about the characters.

Worse still, the characters became more and more annoying: David was drunk, angry and secretive; Adele was more and more manipulative; and, Louise was frantic, crying and bemoaning the mess she’d gotten into. There were several pages that I just skimmed through because I was tired of Louise’s whining.

But, there was the big twist. I wanted to know what the big, amazing twist was.

Then I figured it out.

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[POSSIBLE SPOILERS, MAYBE … probably not]

Around the two-thirds mark, something about an itch made me remember something I saw on a documentary and, bam, I knew the twist ending. I even called it on Twitter (see here, but MAJOR SPOILER ALERT – seriously, this tweet will ruin the whole twist ending). After that, I was reading just to finish the damned book. I no longer cared. I knew what the Adele was going to try and what she’d already done. I didn’t know the reasons, but I didn’t like the characters enough to care. The one thing I didn’t know was whether to not Adele or Louise was going to triumph in the end, and I only cared because I felt bad for Louise’s young son.

[SPOILER RISK ENDED]

Knowing the big twist ruined the whole book for me because I didn’t care anymore. I didn’t care what happened to the characters, I didn’t care how it was done, and I didn’t care why it was done.

But, I did finish it and it’s an interesting twist. I think that the twist would have redeemed the book for me, had I not already figured it out.

So, I didn’t really enjoy the book, but it wasn’t a bad book. I think most people would enjoy this enough to not be disappointed. And, I’m not mad about having purchased the book. I just wish it had been better. I think that the twist and the magic skill were really interesting ideas and explained a lot of seemingly odd things that I can’t mention without risking spoilers (which is too bad because one of them would be really interesting to discuss!). I think that the book would have been better if the author had made Louise more likeable (ex: being tempted by, but not actually sleeping with David) or made David more compelling (ex: being more than just a drunken shell of himself).

Should you read it? I don’t know. Maybe. The twist is really good. If you think you’ve guessed it, check with someone who’s read the book (like me) to make sure you’re right, then skip to the last chapter.

Have you read this? What did you think? Did you guess the twist? If not, did the twist shock you?

Side note: I’ve liked or loved every other book I’ve gotten from Novel Editions, so far. If you’re looking for a Canadian book box, Novel Editions is a good option.

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One Response to Book review – Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

  1. Pingback: Novel Editions – book box subscription | Periwinkle playground

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