(source: I See You)
**May contain a very small amount of spoilers but they won’t ruin the book**
Wow, wow, wow! Now I have never done a book review on the blog before, but this one truly deserves a chance in the spotlight and for so many of you to experience reading it, because I promise you, it will have you on the edge of your seat, eagerly fingering at the pages in anticipation of turning the page.
I became absorbed into this book. Every day on my commute to work, the second I got the train, I would whip the book out of my handbag, and stand, so engrossed in the story forming within the written pages in front of me, that several times I almost missed my stop. I could have easily read this book in one sitting, if only my commute could be that long!
Before I delve into my opinion on the book, I should really give you a bit of a synopsis about the plot. I could very well just copy and paste what the blurb on the back of the book says, but where’s the fun in that?!
Zoe Walker, your ordinary, 30 something lady, with two children in a house in London, who, like the majority of us, travels everyday on the same route to work, Monday – Friday, reading the local paper to pass the time. One morning, whilst flicking through, Zoe spotted a picture within the Classified sections, which she thought was the spitting image of herself. It was placed next to a website address and a phone number. Nothing else.
Zoe checked the paper the next day and instead of her picture, there’s another lady’s photo, and the same happens the day after.
Zoe becomes obsessed with finding out why her picture was in the paper. Who took it? Why was it in there? What was it for? And why were these other women appearing in the same slot?
Zoe investigates and as she does, things take a dark turn, and the situation appears far more sinister then it first appeared.
Clare Mackintosh, the author behind this brilliant piece of work. This is her second novel after her debut novel, I Let You Go, became not only The Sunday Times Bestseller but also the fastest-selling title by a new crime writer in 2015.
I confess, I have not yet read her debut novel, but I have ordered it and the second it comes through the door, (and I have finished the book I am currently reading) I will without doubt read it and I am sure, give another opinion piece on it. I am excited to read her debut because, some reviews have been quite critical saying the second wasn’t as good as the first and it was hard to beat, so if I love I See You, I can only imagine how I will be with I Let You Go!
I See You, her second novel, the whole reason for this post, was released in 2016 (apologies I am a bit behind in reading it!) was also a number 1 Sunday Times bestseller and was part of the Richard and Judy Book Club pick (for those who don’t know Richard and Judy, they’re a married couple who used to work on a Television morning show (I think), who coined up The Richard & Judy Book Club, which helped drive the literary phenomenon in Britain! Hurrah! It was a prestigious thing to be on the list and apparently, according to figures is the cause of helping to sell over £60 million in book sales of British literature since it started. Today they run their book club with WHSmith).
Before Mackintosh became an author, she used to be a part of the police force, which now is very obvious where the knowledge of the police force and how it worked came from in the book, I See You.
So, now you know a wee bit more about the brains behind the book and the story itself, I can now attempt to sound really educated and well read and give you my very humble and very opinionated review of the book, I See You.
Firstly, I want to talk about the style of the book. It is written from, two, well technically three, different persons. The first Zoe Walker. The second, Kelly Swift, a cop who was in the British Transport Police after being demoted after an incident in her previous role in a different sector of the force. The third, well I shan’t say because I don’t want to ruin the book, but the third voice is that of an anonymous person who you don’t find out until the final page, page 372 I think!
I love it when books keep changing the voice. It gives you, as the reader, a chance to understand the situation. Get an unbiased view. See it from multiple angles. Learn the behaviour of each person. See what they’re really like. What others really think. This really helps in this book. The choices that Kelly faces as a woman, a sister of a victim and a police officer are constantly battling one another. But Kelly, which is so reassuring to read, often goes with her heart and the wellbeing of the victims at hand, especially of that of Zoe Walker. Kelly was the only one to take Zoe Walker seriously and was the one to escalate it and make connections all because she went with her instinct. I don’t know how true this can run to real life but I can imagine many in the forces do often have the fight between head and heart in their job and sometimes it isn’t easy to pick.
The characters are easy to love and become attached too. You always have a couple of characters who you can’t quite work out. Will they be the baddy? Do I like them? Are they genuine? What are they hiding? Is everything as it seems?
In this book there aren’t that many characters so it is easy to keep track of who is who. And there isn’t too much to get confused by. You get to know them all on a name to name basis.
Zoe Walker: bit of a worrier, but over all an agreeable character. You find yourself in her corner most of the time. At times she does come across a bit moany but who doesn’t? She was just very human.
Simon: Zoe’s partner. I could not work out if I liked him or not. He always seemed a bit too perfect at times and very secretive. I really couldn’t trust him throughout the book and could understand the reluctance of Zoe’s kids to like him.
Katie Walker: Zoe’s daughter. Your perfect 18 year old reslly. How we all wished we looked at her age. Long blonde hair, skinny, just perfect. Budding actress too who gets a boyfriend called Isaac. Isaac isn’t really that much of a character in the book, but again, I was wary of him, maybe it was because it was how Zoe portrayed him throughout.
Justin: Zoe’s son. Works in a café. Doesn’t like his step dad Simon. Bit moody but what 20 year old lad isn’t? Is protective over his Mum when it comes to Simon but other than that he was a bit disconnected to his family.
Matt: Zoe’s ex. I loved him. I don’t know why. He isn’t really in the book that much. But the odd bit that he is in it you can feel that love that he has for Zoe and you pine for him to rekindle that flame with Zoe even though you know she loves Simon and Simon loves her. But you can’t help rooting for Matt. He is at Zoe’s beck and call and he is so devoted to her it kind of breaks your heart. But I think he was definitely my favourite.
Melissa & Neil: the long time neighbours of Zoe. They helped raised the two children of Zoe whilst she worked her butt off to pay for the children and the house that they lived in. The couple you don’t really get to know throughout the book except that Zoe and Melissa are really close. They have Sunday lunches together, pop round each other houses, and just have a good honest friendship.
Kelly: The policewoman. I wasn’t keen on her at first. I thought she was very full of herself. Over confident. A bit bitchy. But not too far in I grew to really like her. The Book explains her situation and the past of her and her sister and it helps you understand Kelly and why she is so determined and pushy when it comes to her job. She really is a hard worker and you can’t help but admire her determination and drive to help protect those around her. She’s a loyal figure and only want a to ensure everyone’s safety above her own.
That’s the main characters. They’re easy to read and differentiate. You don’t find yourself flicking back through the book to see who is who. It is pretty clear and it helps they are all quite different.
The pace of the book is spot on. It doesn’t develop too quickly nor drag. It’s continuously taking twists and turns and leading you up and down different paths. There’s nothing really that gives away who is behind all these photos in the Gazette and what their motives are for doing this crime. But my god, the end, it all comes spilling out. You find your heart pounding, you palms getting clammy, that sick feeling rushing through you as you panic for Zoe and her daughter up in the loft. You breathe a sigh of relief as you think help is at hand, but you soon find yourself race reading the words on the page to keep up pace with what is unfolding in front of your eyes. You want it to end but it doesn’t. The shocks keep coming. And then boom. Just as you think you can breathe easy and all is solved, the last page hits you. A great big thump in the face.
Please do give this a read. I haven’t even done it justice. I can’t without ruining the whole book for you and that is one thing I don’t want to do. Give it a read and let me know. I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s a 5 out of 5 read and one you won’t have regretted wasting time on.
Not Quite Made Girl