We'll Never Be Apart
I hate to be misled on a sales blurb. Of course I expect to be told how fabulous the book is when maybe it’s not so great, but I’m fine with that. What I don’t expect and very much don’t like is to be told the novel is about one thing only to find it is about another. This book is marketed as a psychological thriller but it doesn’t conform to what I expect from that genre. Figuring out how to grade it after my expectations were so thoroughly crushed was difficult. This is the kind of book I typically don’t pick to review because it is a subject matter I simply don’t like, and placing it in alluring packaging doesn’t change that.
I’m not the brightest bulb on the tree nor the sharpest knife in the drawer, so when I tell you that I solved the big mystery of this book before we were done with the freaking first chapter, that says something negative about the writing. The location the story is placed in, the first journal entry we read – they pretty much shout the surprise twist long before it is revealed at the close. I’m going to try to play along with the “suspense” and not spell out what happens but given how easy it was for me to figure out, that probably won’t keep you from guessing.
Alice and her boyfriend Jason are in an old dilapidated barn running from Cellie, her twin. Cellie wants Alice to die. Jason wants Alice to just let go. But when Cellie catches up with him she sets the place on fire. Alice survives and wakes up to find she is incarcerated at the Oregon State Mental Health Hospital and is facing charges of manslaughter. The facility is no surprise to her – she and Cellie have been to the place called Savage Island many times before. The charges are a bit new and frightening though. Realizing that Jason is dead and Cellie to blame has Alice focusing on one thing – vengeance.
Naturally the key to her grand plan just happens to be the hot new guy at the institution. Chase has been in D ward, where they must be keeping Cellie if she isn’t in the general population. So Alice approaches him to make an exchange: he gets whatever he wants for the information he can give her about the secure ward she needs to break into. Chase doesn’t want anything for his help – he’ll do it for free. Because he has secrets of his own, a past she reminds him of, and while she might be searching for retaliation he is looking for redemption. The only question is will Cellie let either of them have what they want?
Yawn. Okay, here are a few of my nitpicks. Most children of school age know the magic numbers 9-1-1 and have been told when to call them. I’d say even younger than school age these days. Preschool kids are often told about this miracle of the modern age. So when I read about Alice’s early memory regarding the body at the bottom of the steps and the phone call that was never made I had some issues. It seemed to me as though whatever problems existed in the girls’ lives might just have been there before this major event. At the very least I thought it was rather careless of the caregiver not to have taught them about the emergency number when you considered that the person they lived with probably wasn’t young.
Second nitpick was the untaken meds. This is such a common trick that most mental health facilities are wise to all the deceptions and have ways of ensuring that most if not all medication makes it in. Sure, skipping a dose can be done but most pills dissolve quickly in any moist place. So chances are, more of the prescriptive is going to make it into the system than the text would have you believe.
Another small quibble was the food situation. By kindergarten my son could help himself to snacks. Not all snacks but some. It seemed odd to me that that wasn’t the case in this story.
On the plus side, Chase, Jason and some of the other patients at the hospital were fascinating. Damaged and heartbreaking but fascinating.
In the end though my big quibble with the subject matter and the super easy to guess twist made this a tough read. I learned a valuable lesson as a result of this experience though- always read the first pages before committing to a review. Sometimes that simple act can save you a lot of grief.