Sunday, July 28, 2013

Review: Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie

Title: Close My Eyes
Author: Sophie McKenzie
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
Source: The Reading Room reviewer program
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It's been eight years since Gen Loxley lost her daughter, Beth: eight years of grief in which nothing's really moved forward, for all that her husband, Art, wills it to. Gen, once a writer of novels, has settled in to a life of half-hearted teaching, while Art makes his name and their fortune - and pressures her into trying IVF once again. For Gen, it seems a cruel act of replacement; life without Beth is unthinkable, unbearable - but still it goes on. And then a woman arrives on Gen's doorstep, saying the very thing she longs to hear: that her daughter was not stillborn, but was spirited away as a healthy child, and is out there, waiting to be found...So why is Art reluctant to get involved? To save his wife from further hurt? Or something much more sinister? What is the truth about Beth Loxley?
Review by Nara

Okay, seriously. What da heck did I just read?? MY BRAIN HAS EXPLODED. THAT ENDING.

When you first read Close My Eyes, it's a bit too slow at the start. Nothing really seems to be happening, you're lulled into a false sense of security (read: boredom), when suddenly BAM a stranger turns up on the doorstep (in the book, not in real life. Because that would be creepy). The pace suddenly quickens, and everything begins building up to this MASSIVE climax. Man, those scenes were intense!

To be honest, I definitely suspected Art from the start (as suggested in the blurb), although at the same time it seemed a bit too obvious. (But then again, is the author double bluffing?!) I won't tell you whether or not I was right, because I don't want to spoil the surprise, but I can tell you that I definitely didn't expect the huge twist. So many red herrings are thrown in, although once those red herrings are thrown away, it's quite obvious who the culprit really is (seeing as though there aren't really any other options left).

Gen is a bit of an unreliable narrator- ofttentimes you're second guessing whether Gen is just insane or something. There's this underlying feeling of paranoia- you feel like you can't trust Gen, you're not quite sure that she's not delusional. In addition, I couldn't help but think- even if Beth was alive, is she truly Gen's daughter? Family is more than blood- say she's been happy living with another family- what are the ethics of taking her from her family? It's an interesting and difficult issue.

I really wasn't sure what I thought of Art. He's an okay character, but it just felt like he wasn't taking Gen seriously half the time. You're her husband! Show some freaking support! And another thing- he is seriously blunt. Have some delicacy man!
Exhibit A: "You don't have any enemies. You don't even have a proper job."
Exhibit B: "Beth died inside you."
 Throughout the novel, there are passages from an unknown child's point of view. I was a bit confused as to whose point of view these italic passages are from- is it Beth? Is it Art? Is it the villain? Is it Gen herself? I spent half the book trying to work out who it was, but was not surprised when the truth was revealed.

Honestly, I'm not quite sure what the title really means. "Close my eyes" to the crime that has been committed? "Close my eyes" to the loss that Gen has experienced? It would be interesting to hear from the author the true meaning of the title- perhaps it was something subtle from the book that I couldn't quite pick up. In any case, I definitely recommend this novel if you like mysteries, and don't mind a bit of an initial slow pace.

Really liked it

Overall: 9/10
Plot: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 3/5