Review: Jar of Hearts

I’ve received a lot of thrillers and books that fall under the heading “women’s fiction” lately. Some are more original than others — Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier being one of that select group.

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This book isn’t slated to hit shelves until June 12, but I received an early copy after winning a Goodreads giveaway. (Had some pretty great luck with giveaways in January/February and have been in a dry spell ever since. Ha!) I didn’t know much about the novel, only that it promised to be a thriller (um, I’m in) and the title is evocative of Christina Perri’s hit song (yep, definitely in).

Sometimes I have a hard time focusing on books that start in “the thick of it” if I don’t go into the novel with a lot of background information. I get antsy, wondering what the heck is going on; often I have to fight myself to not look up the blurb on Goodreads. (Anyone else have this problem, or am I just a weirdo?) Jar of Hearts starts in this manner: a bit obscurely, and definitely with more than a hint of suspense. I suppressed the urge to Google for more info, though, and I’m so glad I did. This is one of those books that is better if you just go in blind, you know?

But for those of you who want to know a little more, here’s the important stuff:

Georgina “Geo” Shaw is 30 years old and the formidable driving force behind Shipp Pharmaceuticals in Seattle. She’s got it all — a powerhouse fiance, a noteworthy career, Louboutins. What could possibly slow her down?

Readers are thrust into Geo’s past (and present, and past, and present) as the novel opens during a trial in which Geo is a prime witness — and also a player in one of the most heinous crimes committed in the PNW in recent decades. The book makes leaps between Geo’s former and prsent lives to unwrap the neat package that is her hidden history . . . and a series of highly compartmentalized secrets that just won’t stay buried.

I don’t want to give away too much, so I’m going to end the synopsis there — trust me when I tell you this is one book you’ll want to go into blindly. I will, however, highlight a few components of the novel below, for the sake of the review.

The Good: This book is seriously one of the most original thrillers I’ve read in many moons. The plot is unexpected — I guessed very, very little of what would come as the story unraveled — and characters are unconventional. Some tropes are present (the “bad boy” man candy and picked-on-kid-turned-cop), but they worked for this book. Geo’s development is captivating, and I found her a refreshing deviation from the typical female leads that seem to dominate the thriller genre currently.

The Bad: In my humble opinion, Hillier’s editor did her a disservice by not convincing her to cut the epilogue. It’s maddeningly convenient and unnecessary, and I rolled my eyes the whole time. In an otherwise thrilling and enjoyable novel, the epilogue is a sharp reminder that books do not need to end neatly in order to be successful.

Overall: 4 stars. Read this book if you like twists and turns, tv shows like Law and Order: SVU or CSI, and dark (but compelling) narratives.