Monday, 11 April 2016

Book Review: THE LAST THING I REMEMBER by Deborah Bee

The Last Thing I Remember

The Last Thing I Remember
Author: Deborah Bee
Publisher: Bonnier Publishing, Twenty7
Read: April 2016

Synopsis (Goodreads):

For fans of Rubbernecker and Before I Go To Sleep, a tense thriller with a clever and original premise - and a devilish twist

Sarah is in a coma.

Her memory is gone - she doesn't know how she got there. And she doesn't know how she might get out.

But then she discovers that her injury wasn't an accident. And that the assailant hasn't been caught.

Unable to speak, see or move, Sarah must use every clue that she overhears to piece together her own past.

And work out who it is that keeps coming into her room.

A novel that grips from the very beginning and that will live long in the memory, The Last Thing I Remember is Deborah Bee's startling debut thriller. 

My thoughts:

Late at night, a pretty young woman is brought into the hospital’s emergency department unconscious with a serious head injury. It is believed that she was assaulted and struck her head on the pavement as she fell, causing an intracranial bleed. Her husband, who was also attacked, was found dead at the scene from a blow to the head. Paramedics say that she only said two words to them before lapsing into a coma. “Thank you.” They couldn’t ask what she was thanking them for, as she never regained consciousness.

Pretty 28-year old Sarah and mousy 14-year old Kelly from a working class background in Tottenham make very unlikely friends. In fact, when Sarah moved next door, Kelly called her a “yuppie” and was fully prepared to hate her for her beauty, her expensive clothes, her fancy car, her handsome husband. Why would someone like her move into riot ridden and gang controlled Tottenham anyway? But Sarah and Kelly have things in common no one knows about, secrets so big and terrible that their friendship soon is the only thing that keeps them going, makes them stronger. They have come to rely on one another, trust each other. But now Sarah is in a coma, and Kelly can’t manage on her own. She needs Sarah to wake up. This was not supposed to happen.

The Last Thing I Remember is a dark and sinister book about the effects of abuse, bullying and domestic violence, and the terrible lengths people must go to to protect themselves. Half of the story is told in the voice of Sarah, who is locked into her lifeless body, unable to communicate, with fragmented memories of her life and the events leading up to her attack only slowly emerging. The other half is in the voice of 14-year old schoolgirl Kelly, who is desperate for her friend to wake up out of her coma. As the story slowly unfolds, terrible truths about the lives of the two unlikely friends are revealed, which led to the events cumulating in Sarah’s attack.

I loved the way the author uses her two very different characters to tell the story – Sarah’s refined voice and Kelly’s brash, emotional ramblings, as they reveal the secrets that bind them together. The writing style is unique and lively and adds credibility and emotional depth to the story. As Sarah, locked into her lifeless body, is forced to listen to the voices of her visitors, nurses and doctors, more details about her family and private life are revealed. What a terrible hell, to be “locked in” without means of communication! Tension builds as Sarah’s condition remains unchanged, and she hears the neurologist discusses the option of turning off her life support with her family. There are some really vile characters in this book, and my feelings vacillated between sympathy, horror and anger as I learned more about Sarah’s background. I especially wanted to slap her mother!

The Last Thing I Remember kept me intrigued from beginning to end and its dark undertones provoked a lot of thought about the truths behind people’s facades, the things we cannot see. It was, in many ways, a heartbreaking read with a somewhat shocking twist at the end. A very powerful book about the complexities of human relationships, very cleverly executed.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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