(I received this book for free as part of Goodreads First Reads giveaways).
(This review may contain spoilers).
I thought this book was quite an intriguing concept, though by the end, to be honest, I didn’t really feel it had lived up to its potential.
I felt it was a good idea to have the book read as if it were non-fiction. There were some aspects that were really quite interesting, particularly when it came to the different accounts given by Julia’s brother, sister and parents about her. I was very intrigued by the way each of them saw her and it was good to get an idea of some of the events that might have shaped her through childhood.
The real problem was that I felt this book didn’t really live up to its potential. While it was clear that Clare was obsessed with Julia, to the point that there were several different versions of her rather than none, I had very little clear detail about Clare herself. Apart from towards the end of the book, there was no focus on the victims of the attack. Even when Julia’s parents mentioned them, there was little in the way of reaction from Clare. And despite the observations she made at the end of the transcripts, I had the impression that Clare herself was just acting as a recording device.
The character I felt the most sympathy for was Amy. Whether she was perhaps unhealthily dependent on her sister wasn’t important so much as the fact she was clearly unstable… and just as clearly, everyone had washed their hands of her. While not a victim in the same way as those killed by Julia, I felt she was still a victim through the way she’d been treated; and the fact she’d been forgotten about didn’t really sit well with me.
Even by the end of the book, I had very little clear idea of Amanda and Laura’s real personalities. Everything about them was coloured by Clare’s perceptions… but as a reader, I was given hardly any chance to see and judge what they were like for myself.
While there was quite a bit of tension throughout the course of the book as it led to a confrontation with Julia, I somehow felt that the events after that fell somehow flat. While I could slightly see her point about words not having any effect, there was no clear resolution; and I felt that Clare’s actions seemed very at odds with how I thought she would have progressed.
There was a lot of potential in this book, but I felt Clare wasn’t well-defined or very sympathetic as a narrator. I felt the book could have been improved by more showing rather than telling. I didn’t feel this book was one I would read again.