Years ago, I would walk up and down the aisles in Chapters (now Indigo) and read the back cover copies of the books that intrigued me. Maybe it was the title that caught my eye, or the book cover, or maybe it was written by an author I had previously read and enjoyed. I’d then open my Goodreads app and scan the barcode to add that book to my To Read list.
I don’t use Goodreads as prolifically as I used to, but my To Read list grows larger every day I’m alive. Sometimes I will only choose a book to read if it’s on that list, and other times I crash out of that box I have put myself in and just grab a book.
“I’ll Just Buy One Book”: Lies We Tell Ourselves
That’s what happened a few weeks ago. I went to Indigo to pick up a book I had ordered online. My next appointment wasn’t for an hour, so I began to wander around those beautiful stacks. I spend most of my time among the fiction books. (My last book review is historical fiction – check it out.) That’s when I saw this book. It was facing out and had a beautiful yellow colour with hints of pink flowers. It didn’t hurt that it had a sale tag on it, too! I reached out, took a copy from the shelf and turned it over to read the book back cover copy.
It hit my buttons. Thriller. Modern retelling of an Agatha Christie tale. From the description I assumed it would be similar to And Then There Were None, which I had read when I was 12 years old and loved. I didn’t need to think twice – that book joined the others in my purchase pile.
I started reading this book last week. The first chapter didn’t wow me as much as other thrillers have done, but I was willing to hold out a little longer. That promise of a modern retelling of an Agatha Christie story was my guiding light.
Get to the Good Stuff, Already!
Except nothing was really happening. I didn’t relate to the characters, there wasn’t any urgency, and I wasn’t thrilled. The back cover copy said someone was going to disappear. I had to wait 240 pages before that happened. The person who disappeared was a tertiary character and the readers didn’t really have time to care about this person. The back cover copy said someone was going to turn up dead. That happened about 20 or so pages after the disappearance happened. All the promised action took place over 30-40 pages. Then the book ended.
When I read the last page, I looked to my roommate. “That was stupid.” I grumbled, slapping the book on our kitchen table. “Stupid.” I repeated.
I had been lied to. Was there a twist? Sure, sort of. When the twist happened, however, I was already checked out. It wasn’t a good enough twist to make me forgive the lies.
What Had I Read?
The book wasn’t really a thriller. If I’m being honest, it really wasn’t much of anything. The book suffered from an identity crisis that should have been addressed before it hit the shelves. Was it about finding oneself after grief? Or was it a Strangers on a Train send off (which was Hitchcock, not Christie)?
Book back covers are tricky. I’ve had some that have given too much away and others that have given away too little. This was the first one that out and out lied.
As a reader, I don’t mind being tricked. Jeffery Deaver is a good trickster with his twists and turns. I don’t mind being exposed emotionally. Jess Walter did that to me in Beautiful Ruins. I sometimes don’t even mind being scared. Perhaps I’m too wimpy to watch Guillermo del Toro’s films, but I enjoyed The Strain trilogy. I don’t want to be lied to.