Graphic Novelty²




This is my third Hoover book in as many months, and I feel the same way about her as I do Ruth Ware, that she is a solid enough writer but not to my taste. After the saccharine It Ends With Us/It Starts With Us, I was ready to tackle this book as I heard it was a departure from her previous romantic books. In one way it was, as this thriller kept me engaged the entire time. But, I had issues throughout the novel- spoilers ahead.

This Jane Eyre-inspired narrative has a novelist, Lowen, who accepts a contract to finish a set of novels that a famous author Verity is too sick to complete. Lowen has a meet-cute (or more accurately meet-horrible) with the author’s husband Jeremy who is a hottie, and then implausibly stays for weeks at the author’s grand house to look thru her manuscripts but finds a scandalous autobiography of the author who is now in a vegetable state. Verity’s autobiography details her lack of love for her three children, the death of her twin girls, and her obsession with her husband. Lowen is torn if she should show this manuscript to Jeremy, who she is falling in love with and she also suspects that Verity is not truly incapacitated.

There were so many times you need to have a suspension of disbelief- how quickly Lowen and Jeremy get involved, how Verity could fool others, plus the plot device of sleepwalking and locks on the doors. But my biggest issue was Jeremy and his amazing dick- that two women would be so infatuated with him because of how good he was in bed. The concluding pages have the requisite twist, throwing everything you assumed about Verity into question. Although I was rolling my eyes at this stage, I do admit that I liked this change-up for it makes you think about the story afterward. Considering the lackluster thrillers I have read recently, I’d rate this above many. Overall, it gets a thumb up by me, but it will probably be my last Hoover book.

The Anatomy of Desire

Adapted from the classic 1925 book An American Tragedy, this audiobook was completely updated for our modern world.

In this story, social media fitness influencer Cleo Ray is on trial for killing her lover Beck Alden. Cleo supposedly killed Beck to hide her same-sex relationship from her new boyfriend Sandy, who is a rich influencer and who she wants to marry. The trial is set in a conservative area of CA, with a district attorney up for election vs the celebrity defense counsel paid for by Cleo’s rich uncle. The narrative is set up like a podcast (which made for a powerful full-cast audiobook) and we get interviews with Cleo and all the other participants, minus Beck. Cleo admits she went in with the intent to drown Beck on a canoe trip but didn’t go through with it, although an accident causes Beck’s death anyway. That she escapes the scene of the crime and doesn’t report the death, looks very bad for her case. As the trial proceeds we learn about Cleo’s childhood, but do her past misdeeds and trauma excuse her current actions?

During my book reading, I watched the 1951 movie A Place in the Sun starring a young Elizabeth Taylor, which is also adapted from the original story, and in both stories, I found the character Cleo (Clyde in the movie) reprehensible. I didn’t buy the adoration they had for their new loves and was furious at how callous they were to toss off their first partners. But the book as a whole is excellent because it is indeed a tragedy of how selfish actions led to so much heartbreak and loss for the people involved.

The Last One

The Last One has an intriguing premise- twelve contestants in a survival reality show are in the wilderness when a deadly pandemic occurs without them knowing. As the show had some extreme special effects, the main character of the story nicknamed Zoo, believes the death and destruction she stumbles upon are all fake. Determined to not give up and lose the game she continues on, even when what she sees and experiences defies credibility. The chapters alternate between the beginning of the show when all the contestants and the host (who I pictured as Dean Cain) had started the challenges, and Zoo on her later solo trek explaining away everything that no longer makes sense. She meets a fellow survivor, who she thinks is a cameraman undercover, and they hike towards her home. But reality crashes into her fake explanations, and she has to face up to what really happened. While a melancholy future awaits her, a nugget of hope is shown in the concluding pages.

Once There Were Wolves

Inti Flynn is a biologist that specializes in wolves and has been tasked with reintroducing fourteen wolves into the Scotland Highlands. Local sheep farmers are against this rewilding of their region, but Inti and her crew release them, hoping for the success that happened in Yellowstone when wolves balanced the ecosystem there. Lacking diplomatic skills, Inti is single-minded with her goal, refusing to consider others’ opinions. She begins a romance with a local sheriff, all the while hiding that her traumatized twin Aggie lives with her. We get some back story on the twins, beginning with their polar opposite parents and their different parenting methods as the girls grew up, and moving onward through their adult years.

Inti gets mixed up in a murder mystery that has several different suspects-one of which could be a possible lone wolf. I figured out the killer almost immediately and found the conclusion infuriating. I kept at it because I found the wolf reintroduction fascinating and thought the book well-written enough, even if I hated Inti. Overall, this book proved to be uneven and challenging for me to read, but I persevered through it for my library book club, but recently found out that due to a scheduling conflict, I wouldn’t be able to make it. Oh well.

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