I decided to take a break from my usual fare of fantasy/science fiction and venture into the realm of the edgy psychological thriller with bestselling author Mary Kubica’s Don’t You Cry. I haven’t read her other titles, but they are pretty highly rated, and I enjoy such books as Gone Girl so I thought this might be right up my alley. I was not entirely wrong; the story and mystery were at least enough to hold my interest; in fact, I finished it in one day, despite my issues with it. It’s one of those books where you know is terrible and clichéd, but you can’t stop reading it. However — and I don’t know if this is just the eARC I received — it felt unfinished.
The writing is very unpolished, and in need of some serious editing; there were numerous grammatical and spelling errors. Also, it sounds very much as though the author had a thesaurus handy throughout the whole book, and tried to find the most obscure/archaic words she could in an effort to sound more sophisticated. In fact, this had the opposite effect, because the end result was that the word in question usually didn’t quite make sense in the given context. Also, if I had to read the phrase “step foot in” instead of “set foot in” one more time, I was going to scream. Perhaps I am more sensitive to these things than most, but it was enough to hinder my enjoyment severely.
The characters were bland and seriously underdeveloped. We consistently see Quinn, one of the perspective characters, refer to herself as “dumb” because she has learning disabilities — ADHD and dyslexia — but we don’t actually see evidence of these things in her day-to-day life. And then there’s her completely inappropriate behavior with Ben, who is in a relationship; for some reason, he doesn’t seem to find it alarming that she calls him at all hours, and leaves notes on his desk at work.
And the other perspective character, Alex, was just plain creepy. This strange girl shows up in his small town, and it seems perfectly acceptable for him to spend literally hours openly staring at her, not to mention actively stalking her. He has literally no life apart from working and stalking this random woman because she’s relatively attractive. In fact, he was pretty much the poster child for Nice Guy Syndrome; whining the entire book that girls don’t like him because he’s not cool, when in reality it’s probably because he’s super boring and literally can’t form complete sentences around them. Not to mention that he decided he was in love with this complete stranger based solely on her appearance, and creeps on her while she’s swimming in her underwear. But everybody talks about what a good kid he is and of course in the end, he becomes the hero. Okay, rant over.
The story is completely predictable, plot twists included. There may have been the bones of a good story, but it needed to be fleshed out more. Details that the author tried to make seem irrelevant and red herrings were blatantly obvious. I kept reading more or less to see if I was right about everything; turns out, I was, and there were zero shocking moments. This is not to brag about my deductive skills, but rather speak to the poor quality of the mystery in question. Also, there were some undeniable pacing issues; it was a short book, but there were a couple points at which I was rather bored.
Also, I will get spoiler-y here for a second, because I need to discuss this plot point. The police response, or lack thereof, makes NO sense. Maybe at first, but not given the details we acquire later. When Quinn speaks to the detective, we learn that Esther had gotten threatening letters (including an admission to murdering her previous roommate), and he was not in the least alarmed that she had not only missed an appointment with him to discuss this, but that her roommate was answering her phone. And had filed a missing persons report. Nobody comes and searches their apartment or does anything whatsoever; he doesn’t even contact Quinn until days after she files the report.
In short, don’t expect this to be Gone Girl. Although it was interesting and compelling enough for me to finish it, it fell far short of my expectations. The author may have some promise, but relies too heavily on tired tropes and needs to work on developing her technical skills. This particular genre is tricky, because the core mystery can easily end up feeling like a cheap plot device if not done exceptionally well. Unfortunately, I feel this is one of those cases, and it doesn’t really even work here because the solution is fairly easy to deduce. Ultimately, the book was mildly entertaining but didn’t live up to its promise of being “an electrifying and addictive tale of deceit and obsession”.