Friday, 5 May 2017

Book Review: Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Title: Behind Her Eyes

Author: Sarah Pinborough

Pages: 364

Publication: 26th January 2017 by HarperCollins

Reason for Reading: This book has been everywhere on Twitter, even having its own hashtag #WTFThatEnding. Naturally, I was intrigued and couldn’t resist.

Goodreads Synopsis: David and Adele seem like the ideal pair. He's a successful psychiatrist, she is his picture-perfect wife who adores him. But why is he so controlling? And why is she keeping things hidden? As Louise, David's new secretary, is drawn into their world, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong. But Louise can't guess how wrong – and how far someone might go to protect their marriage's secrets.


The premise of this book is a really good one, and the unsettled feeling that pervades the book is exactly what I expect from a really good psychological thriller. Something always felt slightly off, and you’re only ever given information in little tidbits, so it’s hard to work out what exactly is going on.

I also really enjoyed how the book was told from the perspectives of both Louise and Adele. Louise is the same position as you, the reader, and Adele is the main source of information which leads you on your way to discovery, so to speak. However, Louise was quite frustrating at points, because she came across as whiney and repeated the same questions over and over again and at times you just wanted to shout at her for doing exactly what she knew was a bad thing.

My main issue with this book, though, is that it was marketed heavily as a domestic psychological thriller. One of the things that I love most about domestic psychological thrillers, is that they happen on the edge of reality: everything that happens in them is entirely plausible, but the joy of reading about it in a book is that you can put it down at any point. What’s so agitating about this book is that it requires a suspension of disbelief that I don't necessarily want. Highlight for spoilers! The lucid dreaming aspect was really interesting, but I disliked its use as a plot device and as a way for Adele to know what was going on with Louise and David. It felt too much on the side of the paranormal for me to continue enjoying the book as much as I had up until the point I realised that it wasn’t just a recurrent theme, but in fact the whole plot.

Finally, let’s talk about the #WTFThatEnding. Without wanting to reveal too much in the way of spoilers, the whole surprise ending was what eventually sealed the deal for me. I was already frustrated by the time I got to The Big Reveal, and the ending just made me angry. Aside from the misleading marketing and my prior expectations, it still had the issue of being an ending where everything sped up and became forced, and was crammed into a short space to have maximum Wow Effect. Highlight for another spoiler! ALSO. The whole Adele actually being Rob made me so angry. Thrillers are already lacking in diversity, and paranormal stuff aside, I just wanted a gay couple! I liked the idea of Rob being in love with David, but I didn’t feel like there was any need to pass him off as a woman, particularly when that included the paranormal element of the dreaming and being able to enter someone else’s body.

Overall, I was disappointed in this book but not because it was badly written, but rather because I felt I had been misled and betrayed. If the elements of this book that made it a mix of genres were more my thing, this book would have been highly enjoyable! But in the end, I had to suspend my disbelief massively and it impacted my reading experience. So, how do you rate a book that turned out to be so dramatically different to the book you thought you’d be rating? I’ve settled on 3 stars out of 5 - I toyed with 2 stars but realised that actually a large part of that was my judging it as the book I wanted it to be.

Have you read Behind Her Eyes? Do you plan on reading it if not? Let me know in the comments below
Happy reading,