One of summer’s most-hyped releases hit the shelves last Tuesday, and I was fortunate enough to have received and early copy for reviewing from St. Martin’s Press. The good news: Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris is a fast read. One might even call it a page-turner. The ARC came in at just 230 pages, although the finished edition is a bit longer (due to formatting, etc.). I read it in just a few hours, so I don’t feel so bad about the bad news, which is this: Bring Me Back is another run-of-the-mill thriller in a market oversaturated with relatively unoriginal concepts and one-dimensional characters.
I’ll admit that I was engrossed enough to keep reading, so it wasn’t all bad. The plot was compelling, if not a touch cliche. Writing was simplistic, but that’s pretty par for the course with thrillers these days.
Ultimately, I can trot up quite a few more dislikes than likes when making a list for Bring Me Back. The story is absolutely unoriginal in its telling: an unreliable narrator recounts circumstances that led to the disappearance of a loved one. (I don’t know about you all, but I’m SO READY for the alternating viewpoints/non-chronological timelines fad to give way to something…anything…else.) He’s damaged goods — has an anger problem, like so many murder-suspects-turned-narrators before him — and the novel starts off with his alternate telling of the past + the present. Interestingly enough, the present entails an engagement to Ellen, the sister of his previous live-in girlfriend, Layla. You know, the one who went missing twelve years previously…
Cliches abound in the writing of chapter conclusions, in what seems an attempt at suspense. Red herrings are sprinkled in here and there, enough so that I wasn’t entirely correct in my conjecture of how things would turn out; but ultimately, much of what I suspected came to fruition.
Mostly, I just found myself underwhelmed by the book in its entirety. I wasn’t on the edge of my seat, I didn’t care too much for any of the characters (again — in my humble opinion, they were underdeveloped), and I felt like a majority of what happened was predictable.
Overall: 2.5 stars. This is a pretty standard thriller with some relatively predictable twists and turns and average writing. It’s a fast read, so give it a whirl–you might find more to like than I did.