Maybe I’ve been spoiled. It is completely possible. If that is the case? Than that is a me and not the book kind of case.
I didn’t really get into adult psychological thrillers until last summer. There were some amazing novels like Dear Wife, Turn of the Key and The Chain (despite the ending). From there I have had the opportunity to read some brilliant books in this genre (both Adult and YA categories).
If the expectations set by those novels are high? Again, it is me and not the latest release from Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, You Are Not Alone.
Or maybe, on a personal level, this book hit too much of a personal level. Again, if that is the case? That might be another reason it is me and not the book.Lastly, in the case of women taking justice in their own hands? Maybe I have had just had enough of it in young adult novels. Again, if so? Then it is me and not You Are Not Alone.
If any of these situations don’t apply to you? Your miles may vary and take my review with a grain of salt.
Here is what you can’t take with a grain of salt. There are fundamental issues with You Are Not Alone that I can’t just dismiss. They have nothing to do with something that would make it a me thing. I was not even supposed to release this review today. The latest from Hendricks and Pekkanen doesn’t release until March 3rd. Yet, I needed to get it off my chest. This is not a good sign.
There are fundamental flaws that I really tried to let go of through half of You Are Not Alone. This is especially true given it is my first book by Hendricks and Pekkanen. In fact I thought some perceived flaws could turn into powerful uses of point of view by the co-authors. They did not.
I’m going to start with the parts that might be a just me thing. Then I’ll get to the parts I believe are fundamental flaws. I think it might be easier that way.
And guess what? I’m gonna do this without spoilers!
Thank you to St. Martin’s Press, Edelweiss and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
If You Are Going To Start Bringing Up Social Issues
I am all for weaving societal issues throughout any genre of book. Especially ones that deal with women and how society forces constructs on women. However, one? These are strictly first world, white women problems. It is just very much the “Friends” issue. The book is set in NYC. Yet everyone is very white. The diversity is based on social class, which is fine. Except their upper class rich, white friends take them in and take care of them. Convenient. Like Rachel moving in with Monica while she is a waitress is very convenient.
Next. The main character is 31. I’m 42. Let’s just get that out of the way right now. Right off the bat at the beginning of the book this woman, Shay, is bemoaning the lack of a boyfriend, having to temp because her company just decided to downsize, lack of friends and her male roommate/crush having fallen for someone else. Yes, it sucks but you are 31 lady. Shut the hell up. I’m 42 and I’m drinking by the end of the first chapter. If this is how a novel is going to play out how women should think at 30? My life is done and dusted. I should just get the knitting yarn, five more cats and call it a day.
BUT WAIT! The Data Backs It Up!
To add insult to this particular injury, there is her damn data book. Even beyond this issue damn at the beginning of every chapter she has this data. She is obsessed with numbers. Most of these percentages, poll results and the such? Are uber depressing. I haven’t yet, but I want to google them because GOOD HELL WHAT THE MESS? What kind of nonsense is this damn data book? Things like:
- How many killers you’ll walk by
- Suicides/attempts at in a day
- % of loneliness
- Uselessness of therapy
I was waiting for someone to drop that scene from Sleepless In Seattle.
It would not let me center this for nothing.
Oh and don’t get me started on how they make Ambien look…
I mean what the hell?
If you aren’t dating or in a relationship, with a career and the perfect apartment and bubbly happy by 31, apparently you have failed at life. In which case? Me?
And considering the mood I’ve have been in and how it has been detoriorating? Yeah. This isn’t going to work. Mind you I don’t think this works at all. I’ve been on YA’s case about forcing this idea of on teens. If you aren’t thinking about, dating or breaking up with a guy… i.e if a guy (girl… whatever your interest is- I’m not trying to gender norm) then your life isn’t fulfilling? That is seriously problematic. And as adult women society forces this checklist on all areas of our lives. QUIT IT.
Speaking Of The Above – There Are Bigger Issues
Yes. I’m serious. These don’t just apply to me. Or at least I don’t think they do. Look. I’m all for bringing up social issues and weaving them into all categories and genres of novels. I think it can and should be done. Hendricks and Pekkanen have the premise and the foundation to get that done in You Are Not Alone and it really gnaws at me that they don’t accomplish any of it. They raise a lot of issues. Actually, there is one they don’t raise at all. It just obviously smacks you upside the head. However, they raise a tone of them through that damn data book. Yet they either mishandle or outright don’t address any of them.
Issues Raised But Not Properly Addressed
In fact, I would argue they do significant harm
- Severe- no support group, isolation
- Sibling Relationships (Kind of gets addressed)
- How women can lift each other up (In some damn twisted ways)
- There isn’t a real positive way this is shown- despite that damn data book specifically pointing out how women, when in distress, specifically seek out other women due to a chemical release that doen’t cause fight or flight but “tend and befriend” -> Which I did google and does exist.
5. Women suck and just want to hate on each other because they see themselves as competition for everything
6. Women and vigilante justice (anyone really but women in a recent pattern). You know what? I could put in my clip from Avengers: Civil War. Or I could put in the Gotham meme from Bruce Wayne as a teen. Or repeat my whole diatribe about vigilante justice from two YA reviews I did. But why repeat myself? Here: Black Coats and The Athena Protocol (If you are looking to choose? Athena Protocol is most recent and the better of the two books)
Don’t even get me started on how they deal with Ambien..
The Elephant In The Room
- Childhood PTSD and general PTSD- plus, by the way, that could play well into the idea that – hey- THERAPY CAN WORK
- Does it work for everyone? No. Does all kinds work for all people? No. Is it always easy to find the right person? No.
- Is it irresponsible to just show it not working period? WELL YES, ACTUALLY.
And again with that damn data book backing up all the above makes it even worse.
Ok. these are going to be a little bit vague because of spoiler issues. However, if I list them out? I can get my plot, character and literary devices out without spoiling anything.
- Point Of View of different characters- This was the most disappointing to me. As I stated above, there was one part I kept holding onto because I really thought it could end up playing out as a positive but ended up failing miserably. This was it. You have the points of view of the main character, Shay. She is lonely and gets taken in by the Moore sisters (nothing spoiler- it is in the the synopsis). You also get the point of view of the Moore sisters. This makes it a very interesting dynamic, or could.
I kept wanting to write Shay off as gullible. Then I thought, not really because I’m hearing the point of view of the Moore sisters. So I know what is going through their minds. It is easy to think Shay is an idiot for not picking up on things when I’m hearing it all from the point of view of the Moore sisters. Except, here is the problem. I couldn’t keep giving Shay that kind of slack. Because..
IV OF Smart Juice… I Guess?
- By the end of the book she goes from complete idiot who couldn’t pick out a robber if he wore a sign and ran past her to super detective woman by the end of the book. I mean but my God, it just doesn’t make any sense. It isn’t plausible and is super convenient. This should go one of two ways. She stays super gullible and keeps down the path or she slowly puts things together. It shouldn’t just bam-boom happen. Again, we are back to Friends and Rachel convenience. Like the monkey episode. Although I suppose that wasn’t really convenient for Phoebe, but besides the point
Now by the end you could think back on the clues that Shay starts picking up on like Dr. Who on super smart juice and it could be fun for the reader except you are really to busy wanting to shoot your face off because you have been like WTFing at her down right idiocy let alone gullibility this whole damn time. Not to mention WTFing at how the Moore sisters have their own set of conveniences that I can’t get into because spoilers.
The epilogue does nothing to help the ending. It makes it worse.
Now I would like to say that is everything except it actually isn’t. There is the detective I really feel sorry for and the other people that are drawn into this disaster. Except some of their circumstances are so stupidity of their own doing I just… It is like who in their right minds X while X is X when X if X… like…