Saturday, May 5, 2018

Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

Gillian Flynn blurbed it, so I wanted to read it because Gillian Flynn writes amazing thrillers that are taut with suspense, and I figured that anything she liked would be written in the same vein. Sadly, OUR KIND OF CRUELTY, despite the great title, amazing premise, and gorgeous cover, totally fell short for me as a book.

Mike had a terrible, abusive childhood set against a backdrop of poverty and neglect. Now thirty, he has wealth in abundance and is good-looking enough to be a hit with the ladies. But Mike only cares about one lady in particular: V(erity), his ex-girlfriend, who has just sent him an email telling him she's getting married.

When Mike and Verity were together, they used to play a game that got the two of them off. That game was called The Crave. Verity would sidle up to the bar and wait for a man to hit on her. As soon as she did, Mike would wait for the secret sign - for Verity to touch her eagle necklace - and then show up and threaten the man until he left. Usually immediately afterwards, Mike and Verity would have sex.

Mike can't quite believe that Verity is getting married. Then it hits him. The wedding is fake, an act of punishment to get back at him for his past transgressions. The wedding is the biggest Crave of all, and all he has to do is sit back and wait for the secret sign so he and Verity can be together - forever.

(Damn, I just gave myself chills - I should be the one writing these blurbs!)

I think my problem with this book was that I have read a lot of stories like it, you know, the kind that take a "love story" and make it into a psychotic obsession. Two of my favorites are Caroline Kepnes's YOU and John Fowles's THE COLLECTOR. Both of these stories start on a high note and just leave you totally devastated and blown away by the end. By contrast, I slogged through OUR KIND, waiting for the payoff. Would there be an unreliable narrator, a la Nabokov's LOLITA? Or would there be a huge revelation a la GONE GIRL that changes the entire framework of the story?

The answer: Both, sort of. But not really.

Without spoiling anything, let's just say that this is the book of half-ass. It leaves everything up to the reader to decide, teasing you with first one possibility and then the other, but ultimately the story falls flat because there isn't really a whole lot of closure. The first two thirds of this book are strictly psychotic obsession thriller but the last third is courtroom drama, a la KRAMER VS. KRAMER, and that's where the book started to leave a bad taste in my mouth.

OUR KIND OF CRUELTY was one of my most anticipated reads and ended up being a total let-down.

Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!

2 to 2.5 out of 5 stars

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