Ever since the popularity of Gone Girl, books like this–unreliable women narrators–have been on the scene. I’m just surprised this book didn’t have the word girl in it. I love unreliable narrators, but don’t have your character tell me that “sometimes I lie.”
Let me figure that out.
Sometimes I Lie promised to deliver, and it did, right up till the end. The writing wasn’t stellar (e.g. using that ridiculous quote about being a human being, not a human doing), but the story compensated for the most part.
Part of the problem with many of these books is that all or most of the women are either evil or dumb. One is an emotionally-abusive alcoholic, another is a total psycho, and yet another is a fake (but real) bitch; to be fair, the men aren’t much better. Everyone is shitty in this.
It takes a talented author to strategically place clues in such a way that we don’t notice them until the end–when everything crystallizes. The clue that solves the case should be like a microscopic piece of DNA that blows it all wide open, giving us that “aha” moment. However, the author having a character go by more than one name (unless both names are connected in some way) is lazy and downright misleading.
The Wife Between Us (which I didn’t bother reviewing as it was written by two authors) did the same thing.
This book was separated into three separate time frames: The diary of a 10-year-old, “walking Amber,” and “comatose Amber.” There were plenty of dream sequences (i.e. filler) that we’re led to believe are real, only to be told, “Just kidding, never mind.” It pisses you off.
I was also led to believe that Amber and her husband, Paul, didn’t even like each other anymore, but then all of a sudden, they’re in love again–from cold to hot in 180 seconds.
Furthermore, Madeline’s reveal didn’t pack a punch (who cares about this lady anyway?), and the old boyfriend didn’t add anything to the story. I found it hard to believe that the ex would stay out of Amber’s life for twenty years only to start stalking her again. Reminded me of an episode of “Law & Order: SVU,” so it must happen, right? Jo’s origin, however, surprised me, though she wasn’t a strong enough character for it to be intriguing.
A lot of women don’t like rape as a plot device; I just don’t like graphic scenes (leave it to the imagination, please) because then they comes acoss as trying to be titillating which is reprehensible.
I did not care for the little lists (I found them quite silly); I love nursery rhymes as much as anyone else, but just state that a character is singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”–don’t spell it out, for I just end up skipping over those stanzas. At least put a new spin on an old rhyme or better yet, create a new one (but keep them divided into couplets–most people don’t want to read poetry in a novel; it can stagnate a story, though it was done beautifully in The Wife Between Us).
Sometimes I Lie would’ve been better had been written in the third-person; with first-person, the character has to be incredibly compelling–either relatable or interesting. Amber is neither until the end, when she seemingly snaps out of whatever funk she’s been in for years to suddenly become this commanding presence–almost as if killing something (or someone–don’t want to spoil it) brings something inside her back to life.
There were a few loose threads: I never figured out why she didn’t like her mother–the woman Amber was describing as an adult did not sound at all like the woman described in the diaries. Did Taylor really tell her to do it? And who sent the bracelet at the end? This is where you absolutely do not leave the rest of the reader’s imagination. You’re the writer–wrap it up!