Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Book Review: TELL ME NO LIES by Lisa Hall

Tell Me No Lies

Tell Me No Lies
Author: Lisa Hall
Publisher: Carina UK
Read: October 2016
Expected publication: 20 October 2016

Synopsis (Goodreads):

Don’t. Trust. Anyone.

It was supposed to be a fresh start.

A chance to forget the past and embrace the future.

But can you ever really start again?

Or does the past follow you wherever you go…

My thoughts:

Steph is a young pregnant mother with a small child who has recently moved to a new neighbourhood to save her marriage and make a fresh start. Life is not easy, with her husband Mark working away for long periods of time, leaving Steph in charge of the household without her old support network. As Steph is trying to settle into her new life, strange and scary things start happening to her, terrifying gifts appear on her doorstep and she is accused of actions she is certain she did not commit. Even her best friend does not want to have any more to do with her.  Steph is convinced that someone out there is wishing her harm, and yet no one believes her. Who can she trust, when even those nearest and dearest to her won’t listen to her?

The concept of Tell Me No Lies is clever and chilling – a fragile lead character with a traumatic past and a mental health history, trying to make a fresh start but soon realising that someone near her is trying to destroy her life. Without her support network – her best friend has moved away, her mother is estranged, and her husband is working away – Steph is especially vulnerable. Which makes her perfect prey. Doubting her own ability to cope, Steph tries to find people she can lean on and trust – but do those people have her best interest at heart? Or do they have their own agendas?

Seeing all the high ratings on Goodreads, I am obviously in the minority when I say that the book did not fully work for me. When I read a psychological thriller, I hope to be thrilled. Unfortunately this did not happen – whilst I loved the general concept, I found the events were just a bit too predictable, the characters’ motives too obvious. It is difficult to explain this without giving away any spoilers that would ruin the book for others, but I will try. For the book to be thrilling, I needed to have doubts regarding Steph’s mental state and her reliability as a narrator, like the character of Christine in S. J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep, for example. I wanted to question Steph’s story and her perception of reality, but this never happened. To me, the events unfolding and the characters’ motives held no big surprises, with Steph being infuriatingly blind to the obvious, which was more exasperating than thrilling. I hate it when characters are frustratingly obtuse to make the plot work, and that was my feeling here. Yes, Steph has a mental health history and a traumatic event in her past. Yes, she is doubting herself. Yes, she is needy and lonely and falling apart. But still, I was not convinced, and at times Steph’s voice did not ring true for me and I felt like grabbing her through the pages of the book and shaking some sense into her.  Shame – other readers were obviously able to move past this discrepancy and enjoy the story nonetheless. I wanted a bit more. I wanted to be thrilled and chilled, I wanted to doubt everything I was reading, I wanted to question my own perception of the plot and gape open-mouthed when the final reveal threw everything into doubt once again. The twist at the end was clever, but sadly I also saw that one coming, as this particular character’s motives were so blindingly obvious to me from the very start. All in all, for me it lacked that certain “wow-factor” that makes me turn the pages and devour a book. 2.5 stars from me, but it obviously worked well for others, so don’t take my word for it!

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

No comments:

Post a Comment