Rating: 4/5 stars
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary
I have to admit, I love me a good unreliable narrator. As it’s something that’s hard to do well, when I stumble across a truly unreliable narrator I almost always like the book a little bit more than I might have otherwise. It keeps me guessing, and that’s something that I don’t have with many of the books that I read.
If I’m being perfectly honest, the reason I can’t give this book a full 5/5 stars is because it was a little too confusing at times. While I greatly enjoyed the read, I found myself flipping back and forth every once and a while, trying to understand if I’d missed something or if I just wasn’t understanding what was being said. I enjoy a mystery that keeps me guessing, but I don’t like it when I’m guessing whether or not a key plot point has been said. When things get too confusing, even when I’m taking notes on the book, I know it can’t just be me.
Another thing I found about this book was that it was hard to pick back up and re-immerse myself in the world. If you’re the kind of person who needs to be able to jump straight back into the world, that might be a little hard with this read. However, if you read it in one sitting, or take the time to slowly reintroduce yourself to the story’s world, it’s a wild ride that I hope you’ll enjoy.
If you’re interested in a mystery/thriller story with mental abilities based in the real world, this read might just be right up your alley. Give it a try and let me know what you thought.
I love love love the fact that Robin – Alice’s “boyfriend”/”figment of her imagination” – is actually the guy who killed her parents. Okay, I don’t love the fact that he was the drunk driver that killed them. What I did love was the fact that Alice’s abilities manifested in her relationship with Robin. She never learned his name, so there was no way that she was manifesting her own past into this figment of her imagination. If she’d gone with a different name, sure, I could believe that. But since a Robin Lang was involved in and died in a drunk driving accident 9 years prior to this story – the same length of time ago that the drunk driver killed their parents – and Robin’s declaration of “I loved you more” – the writing on the wall by the accident site – it’s hard to imagine that this isn’t the same guy. Alice’s guardian angel, if you will. Though I must admit he was more of a corrupting influence than not…. I also loved the fact that this is never explicitly said in the story, instead it’s left for the reader to piece together themselves.
That’s something that I truly believe Warman did an exception job at – showing the reader rather than telling them everything. This was a well written mystery because the clues are hidden in the writing, not left out in the open for anyone to stumble across. Warman doesn’t tell you which twin is missing right away – she allows you to figure it out yourself. Alice even puts herself in the mindset of being Rachel so well that it isn’t until the next day that she admits that Rachel is the one missing, not her. They’d just switched places like they had so many times before.
I also found it intriguing to start to figure out what was really happening and what was in Alice’s mind. Some things were obvious, such as Alice seeing Rachel in the barn, but others were less so. In the flashback where Alice remembers being caught in the neighbours’ pool by the cops it’s hinted at that Rachel saw Alice alone and Robin wasn’t actually there. It isn’t until Kimber shows Alice “Robin’s” place and admits they saw her drinking alone that Alice realizes that no one else is able to see Robin.
While the epilogue is written from Rachel’s perspective, I’d love to know what her true feelings about Alice were when they were both alive. TJ/Tom made it clear that Rachel couldn’t wait to leave town with him, leaving Alice behind for good, but it’s also clear that he was saying this in anger from Alice trying to trick him into thinking she was Rachel. And, sure, Rachel kept their relationship a secret for a year. But did that mean that she didn’t trust Alice at all anymore? Or that she was worried about Alice’s mental health to the point she didn’t want to add stress to Alice’s life?
Of course Alice’s abilities were vindicated and allowed her to solve Rachel’s abduction – as well as the murder of 8 young women over the last 15 years. Her visions of Jamie’s face might have been what got Rachel/”Alice” kidnapped, but they were also the reason that these murders got solved. I’m sure Mr. Slater would have rathered Jamie be found alive than confirmed dead by her killer, but at least he finally knows what happened to his daughter.
One thing that I wish was made clear was how Alice died while Rachel survived. I understand that Alice was able to feel all of Rachel’s pains, and I don’t think it worked the other way, but Rachel managed to survive severe dehydration and torture whereas Alice died from seemingly less. Was it the combination of Rachel’s pain and distress with Alice’s own blunt trauma? Or did Sean’s kicks do too much internal damage? She was able to run down the street to her house and alert the neighbours, after all – how did she have the energy to do that if she was so close to death?
In the end, I’m sure Alice got to join back up with Robin in the afterlife. He seemed to be one of the only things that brought her some comfort towards the end – even before the start of the book. I’d like to imagine Alice watching over Rachel throughout her life, being the guardian “angel” to Rachel that Robin was to her. While Rachel won’t be able to see or talk to Alice the same way, being the twin without powers, I’d like to think she knows that her sister is there with her.
The final thing that I want to talk about it the fact that this world was very flushed out. So much so that I’d love to get more stories in it. Officer Martin’s epilepsy was accompanied by flickering lights, showing that the world has different kinds of psychic abilities. I’d love to read his story, try to understand how his powers work. Knowing that this is very unlikely, I’ll just have to settle with my own musings on the topic. One thing’s for certain, Warman has left me thinking about this story days after I’ve finished it – in a good way, of course – the sign of a truly good read.
I’ve heard and read a lot of mixed reviews on this book since finishing it. If you’ve read Beautiful Lies, what’s your take on the book? Was it too confusing for you to muddle your way through or did you enjoy needing to think through the clues? Maybe you understood something differently than I did. No matter what your opinion on the story is, I’d love to hear it.