This Is Not Over
I’m not sure what it says about me, but I’ve always loved books centered around revenge. For this reason, Holly Brown’s latest novel This Is Not Over seemed like something that would be right up my alley. Unfortunately, it left me feeling completely flat.
Dawn and her husband enjoy weekend getaways. For Dawn, staying in someone else’s lovely home is just the thing to make her feel like she’s made it out of the hell she grew up in. It gives her a glimpse into the way her life could have been, and, instead of making her bitter, it gives her hope for her future. If so many people can have great jobs, beautiful houses, and enough money to afford everything they want, such things cannot be completely out of her reach.
After one such vacation, Dawn is incensed to learn her hostess doesn’t intend to return her entire security deposit. Miranda claims Dawn stained her sheets, and so she’s keeping $200 in order to replace them. Instead of realizing she has to pay for the damaged property, Dawn vows not to take this lying down. Privileged people have walked all over her for most of her life, and she won’t let Miranda get away with it. So she leaves a scathing review of Miranda’s home on a vacation-goers website, warning perspective customers to beware of her.
Now, it’s Miranda’s turn to be enraged. How dare Dawn threaten her very livelihood. Sure, she’s married to a doctor, but Miranda is in desperate need of the rental money generated by the vacation home. She vows to get even with Dawn.
Both Dawn and Miranda have secrets, but neither is very compelling. Plus, I had a really hard time buying into the idea that so much angst could be caused by a set of stained sheets. Ms. Brown tries to justify the actions of her heroines, but I wasn’t convinced. I wanted something that seemed less petty and more worthy of all the time and energy Dawn and Miranda were wasting.
The supporting characters seem more like two-dimensional cut-outs than real people. Dawn’s husband is practically a paragon who had – literally – no faults. I found it extremely difficult to believe such a perfect man actually existed. Miranda’s husband, on the other hand, is a total jerk with not a single redeeming quality. What happened to creating nuanced characters rather than those that are completely perfect or utterly deplorable?
As I read the novel, I had an idea where things were headed, and, unfortunately, I was exactly right. This made the “big twist” quite anticlimactic. Sure, I like to be right as much as the next person, but not so much when it comes to my reading. I want to be surprised and blown away. Predictable storylines are just not very interesting, and This Is Not Over falls firmly into this category.
I might have enjoyed the story more had it been a bit shorter, but as it was, I found Dawn and Miranda’s constant bickering quite tedious. There’s not a lot of action here, but then, I suppose that’s to be expected, when you think about the fact that the main characters are quarreling about a set of sheets.
Ms. Brown has written a couple of other novels, but I doubt I’ll be reading them any time soon. I’m looking for something more engaging, with more realistically drawn characters, and a much more believable plot.