“Both of us are sure we’re right, but one of us is living in a world of make-believe right now.”
Strangers was the January book club read for the Instagram group BlackHeart Reads. If you’re on Instagram and are interested in joining their monthly reads, click the link and follow their page! It’s always a ton of fun!
The premise of this book was intriguing: a woman faces a stranger in her home claiming to be her fiancé. She has no memory of him, to her he is a complete stranger. A man comes home to a fiancé who claims to not know him. Every single item belonging to him is gone, his existence in their life erased.
One of them has to be lying, but both are convinced they are telling the truth.
As events continue to unfold around them, it becomes obvious that something is happening that neither of them understand. And if they are going to discover the truth and get out of this alive, they are going to need to trust their instincts. And each other.
After the beginning chapters of this novel, I was expecting some serious twist, a la Black Mirror. Everything about the plot felt like some sinister, devious, horrifying conspiracy was taking place.
Initially, the characters were fantastic. Joanna was appropriately freaked out, and believed that Erik was some crazed madman. Until her best friend confirmed their relationship. It would have been easy to leave all the doubt on Joanna, but the authors made sure to balance the doubt between both Jo and Erik. They did a fantastic job making not just the reader but the characters themselves wonder which of the two was crazy. Or what possible explanation could be at play.
“A hand, as cold as ice, reaches for my heart. And, for the first time, the thought crosses my mind that maybe the person who’s lost their mind here isn’t Joanna, but me.”
Unfortunately, the book lost steam for me towards the end. The book was action packed and held an intense pace throughout, but the entire plot hinged on the twist. And for me, it fell flat into cliche disappointment.
In all, the book was entertaining and kept me interested until the end. But I felt like the ending was too easy, a bit predictable, and didn’t really go far enough to feel satisfying based on what the authors built up. However, if you enjoy books full of action that keeps a fast pace, you may enjoy what Strangers has to offer.
I’m going to discuss a few things that felt problematic for me, which will include spoilers, so if you have not read this book, please be warned!!!
The ending, as I mentioned was way too easy and fell into the eye-rolling territory very quickly. A bunch of Nazi’s plotting to cause chaos to purify the country of Germany just didn’t really add up or feel satisfying to what they had built up throughout the book. Beyond trying to make their terrorist attack look like Muslims were at fault, there really wasn’t anything to even support this weird Nazi plot line.
Beyond that, a brief hypnosis session while she was on vacation as the entire catalyst of her memory loss and violent urges? Talk about disappointing. I felt like there were so many other avenues that would have at least fallen into the realm of possibility, hypnosis felt too easy. And not at all believable.
If the ending was the only weird cliche pieces in the book, it may not have bothered me. But this book was full of them. Nadine, the ex-girlfriend was written as a sad, desperate woman who would do anything to get Erik back. Even going so far as to blatantly insult Joanna to her face in front of Erik. It came across as all the terrible stereotypes of women.
Joanna’s own father was a controlling rich man, willing to risk his daughters life if she didn’t follow his rules. Honestly, I was hoping he was behind the entire thing, it would have made his character feel more real than it did.
The gun wielding muscle sent to “collect” Joanna that suddenly jumps to the rescue. They are pretty standard and self-explanatory.
It felt like the side characters were presented as these stereotypes to offer plausible villains behind the memory loss and strange violent events following Jo and Erik. But since that wasn’t where the plot was headed, and the authors didn’t offer any redemption so they ended up feeling flat and one dimensional.
There was a lot of action and this book had some serious potential, so I was really disappointed at the end. This book read more like an action movie than a thriller. Lots of action not as much plot.
I did have a ton of fun reading this book for our group discussion, and loved hearing everyone’s thoughts on this book in our group!