Friday, June 13, 2014

Review: Before I Wake by C.L. Lewis

I've been finding it harder and harder to rate certain books nowadays. Usually I am sure during the first 40% whether I'm in love with a novel or am sure it should be banished to my "did-not-finish" pile. For more than half of Before I Wake by C.L. Taylor, I wasn't sure which way I was going with this one.

From page one Taylor takes hold of readers by revealing that the narrators daughter may have botched her own suicide and as a result is now in a coma. Apparently stepping in front of a bus isn't as final as a shot to the head or... something even more precise. I digress.

Sue Jackson is confident that her snooping in her daughter Charlotte's diary, alluding to a secret she can no longer live with, is the reason she has decided to commit suicide. On a quest to figure out what that secret is, Sue begins questioning any person who may be involved with this secret. The only problem is that much of the time we can't trust her narrative because she reveals at some point in her past she's experienced "episodes" where her break from reality could also be the cause of her anxiety.

As Sue's narrative moves the story forward, she also recalls a time in her past where she was in an abusive relationship. It is clear that the man she once loved and loathed is the cause of her anxiety rendering her unreliable as a guide through the mystery surrounding her daughter's demise. Usually I'm more interested in novels featuring a narrative by a crazy person, but for some reason, I never warmed up to Sue.

What was done perfectly is the gradual build of suspense and tension surrounding Charlotte's life. There are enough red flags thrown into the mix that it makes putting the novel down impossible. Although I was not impressed with Sue, Taylor forced me to read this novel until its end. It could possibly be because the writing is fluid. Possibly it could be that I just had to know whether or not Sue was/is crazy afterall. I can't call it. All I know is that after more than 40% in, I could not for the life of me understand what was holding me captive to this story.

In conclusion, Before I Wake by C.L. Taylor is an interesting psychological thriller that will appeal to fans of the genre. It explores matters surrounding mental health while suggesting there's no easy way to escape our pasts. I know my review is all over the place but I definitely did enjoy reading this novel. I look forward to reading more by C.L. Taylor.   ***

Copy provided by Sourcebooks Publishing via Netgalley

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