Sunday, November 13, 2022

I'll Be You by Janelle Brown


Wow, has it really been two weeks since I've written a review? That's depression for you. When I'm feeling good, I'm a one-woman power-house of reading books and churning out reviews. But every winter, like clockwork, my brain goes into power-saving mode and it's like I go, "Books? I don't know her." So big thanks to my friend, Heather, for agreeing to buddy-read this book with me. It was the motivation I didn't realize I needed to make it to the end of a story and my slump.

I'LL BE YOU is the story of two twins who started out as child stars and ended up kind of messed up. Sam, the more outgoing twin, is a recovering addict. Elli, the more reserved twin, had the perfect life-- until she ditched it all after her divorce to go on a mysterious retreat to Ojai, leaving her young daughter with their aging parents.

When Sam is called to help out with the niece she didn't know existed, she immediately starts getting weirded out. The child's origins are shady, and Elli has been missing for a while. When Sam texts her, her messages are always "read" but never responded to, and she finds mysterious paper trails in her sister's abandoned apartment. Addresses across the state and a folder for a treatment program called GenFem which sounds kind of like a cult.

The book has two parts. One is narrated by Sam and one is narrated by Elli. The beginning of the book was really good and had some genuinely creepy moments that actually had me feeling paranoid and a little leery about reading this at night. But Elli's portion felt anticlimactic. The book literally ends at the point of climax, with a lot of it mostly being resolved off-page. Also, there's a sort of Suspicious Hot Guy who seems like he might become a love interest or even a villain, but then he's shunted off page just when things are getting interesting.

Despite its promising premise, I'LL BE YOU only half-delivers. I had the same issue with WATCH ME DISAPPEAR, a book that initially gave me the same delicious sensations of paranoia and fear, only to end in a way that had me rolling my eyes and going REALLY?! This book was even more frustrating, though, because it plays with so many of my favorite tropes and doesn't really do anything with them. So far, I think my favorite book by this author is PRETTY THINGS, which I five-starred. Nothing has come close, which is tragic, because that book had me thinking this author was the next Gillian Flynn.

I'LL BE YOU is far from a bad book but it could have been an amazing book and wasn't, so I'm sad. But it was interesting enough that I was able to finish it, despite my slump, so go me! (And go Heather, for reading it with me!) Hopefully this author's next book can match the pacing and intensity of PRETTY THINGS.

2.5 out of 5 stars

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