Book review: Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

3/5 stars

Audible version, narrated by Stephanie Racine.

This was a well-written book, and should by all rights be a 4 star review, but for me personally it just wasn’t that engaging, which is a personal preference thing, but that’s what I’m writing about – so it only gets a 3.

A very brief summary of the story, as it’s rife with twists and I don’t want to give anything away: Amber is in a coma, and she doesn’t know how she ended up there. She can hear what’s being said in her room and starts to try and piece together what happened from what she can remember and what is being said by her visitors and the hospital staff. So, there’s a “now” timeline with Amber in hospital, there’s a “then” timeline which covers the week (or so) before she lands in hospital, and there’s an even older “then” timeline from the early 1990s. We know that Amber is an unreliable narrator because that’s literally one of the very first things she tells us: “Sometimes I lie.” And then there’s the added confusion of the coma. So what is she really remembering, what is she possibly making up (intentionally or not) – what, in short, is real?

The mystery was intriguing to start with, but at some point I guess I kind of lost interest. There’s SO many twists. And while they’re mostly very well done, it just became a bit too much for me. I guessed some, and was surprised by others, but overall it just made me less invested, because things were never as they seemed (and then there’s another layer and another and another…) It’s cleverly done, though I personally feel like the cleverness of layering the story gets in the way of the actual story.

It reminded me a little of the film Wild Things (based on my dodgy memory, mind, as I don’t think I’ve seen it since around the time it was released in the late 90s) in the way twist after twist was uncovered. And then when you think it’s over there’s another twist, thus not really giving a completely satisfactory ending. I don’t mind some things being open-ended, but here it seemed to me to be put in just to give you one last surprise but with little to no narrative value.

It’s also possible that I’ve read a few too many of these “psychological thriller with unreliable narrator” type books and have been oversaturated.

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