January 3, 2013

Alys, Always by Harriet Lane: Review

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Frances, a copy editor for a failing literary magazine, is the first person on the scene of a terrible accident. She is the last person to hear the dying words of the driver, Alys. Alys, it turns out, is the wife of a famous author. Frances uses this experience as a way into Alys’s world and takes every advantage presented to her to get ahead.

I don’t know if it’s a spoiler to tell you what’s not going to happen, but mostly I’m going to tell you what doesn’t happen, so take that anyway you like.

Yeah, I dunno. I read this one to the end because I was just waiting for some twist or a revelation that would explain Frances to me, but it never happened. Frances is a sociopath. She has no empathy for anyone. She’s manipulative and cunning. Every person or situation is worked by her to her own advantage. It’s scary how she can see where every step she takes will lead her. She uses people if they can help her but, if not, she discards them.

I have no problem with characters without any redeeming qualities but Frances’s cold, clinical way of dealing with the world just made her boring. I didn’t find her that interesting. She’s too perfect as a character. I like a character to stumble and make mistakes then see how they are going to get themselves out of it. Frances is too good at what she does. The people around her have no inkling of what she is or what she is doing.

It’s interesting as a character study, she’s friggin’ creepy, but the story lacks plot as a result. Frances has a goal, it’s not hard to see what that goal is, and she works to get it, which she does. There’s not a lot else going on. No twists and turns. Frances has it all plotted out. She won’t allow the story to go anywhere else. I gave the book 3 stars on Goodreads because there is a lot about the writing I liked. I have no issues with the writing. It’s very good and I can’t wait to what else Lane will do, but that something-something in Alys, Always was missing for me.

So, Alys, Always fizzled out for me. I needed more. I don’t think it helped that I kept comparing it to Gone Girl either.

Thanks to Simon and Schuster for the review copy.

4 comments :

  1. Mmmm, I think I'll pass then. ;-)

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  2. I've got to have plot so this probably isn't for me.

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  3. Sounds like there isn't a lot of motivation happening with this one.

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  4. Can anything really compare against Gone Girl? It sounds like this one was going to be a dud from the moment you first made the comparison. Boo. Better luck next time!

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