Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A STRANGER IN THE HOUSE BY SHARI LAPENA - BOOK REVIEW

After reading and very much enjoying Lapena's previous novel, The Couple Next Door, I was sure that I was going to love this one. Unfortunately, I found this one a little too predictable to call it an amazing thriller - I've got one word for you: AMNESIA.

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena. Thanks so much to Penguin Random House for sending me a finished copy of this book for an honest review, as always, all opinions are my own.


This story follows Karen Krupp, a woman in her early thirties who was seen recklessly driving, running red lights and eventually hitting a utility pole. According to Karen's husband and those close to her, this is completely out of character. After she is taken to the hospital for a concussion and diagnosed with retrograde amnesia (of course), the police come in to ask questions. What was she driving so fast away from? What made her leave her house so quickly she didn't even grab her purse or lock the front door? What was she doing in the bad side of town so late at night? Karen cannot remember anything that happened before the accident. As another crime comes to light, Tom begins to wonder what his wife is truly capable of - after all, he's only really known her for a couple of years and she's never been forthcoming with any information on her life before.

I'm a little bit disappointed with all the plot holes Lapena fell into with this one. Unusual behaviour? Check. Amnesia? Check. Doting, oblivious husband? Check. Woman with mysterious past? Check. These are all classic tropes of the genre but I felt like Lapena could have done things differently to make them her own. It's okay to use these elements in a story but they need to be used in a way that makes them believable, not just a plot point.

I think this part of the reason why I found this story predictable. I wasn't even halfway in before most of the major details came out, a few of which I had figured out on my own. While there is a bit of a twist at the end, the last half of the book fell flat for me because I knew most of what was going on.

The only thing I'm not sure of is if Lapena wanted these things to be obvious to make the evidence point to one person and then flip it around at the last minute or if the story was just predictable. I feel as though even if she wanted to switch things around on us, there were only two real options, and one seemed pretty flimsy. That leads me to believe that the story was written and ended up being too predictable to truly be called a thriller.

Despite the storyline and plot being subpar, I think what really helped this story was the writing style Lapena has. It's kind of funny because I didn't love her writing style in TCND, rather I liked the story better in that one. But Lapena has a way of writing in this book that draws you in. She used short chapters, which I think really helped keep things rolling. The narration was from an alternating third person between many of the main characters and because it was third person, there was no worry of the characters sounding similar.

I think for some people, this might be a good book. If you are newer to psychological thrillers and want something that isn't super thrilling, this is the one for you. If you are fairly well versed in thrillers, this one isn't going to make you think, you aren't going to have to question everyone and everything. Lapena lays it all out for you. I'm not saying I hated this book, it kept me captive enough to read it in one sitting but I just didn't love it.

Overall, I wanted to love this one but it just wasn't enough for me.