Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Book Review: 'Sister' by Rosamund Lupton

Ugh. What a disappointment this was.

Sister sounded like a really good psychological thriller when I came across it on Goodreads, so I made a point of taking it out of my library as soon as I could get the chance, because thrillers generally aren't boring. But Lord, oh Lord, Sister was boring. Among other things.

The novel follows Beatrice trying to solve the mystery behind her younger sister's death, Tess, who the police believe killed herself. Sounds interesting, right? I'm fascinated by suicide in fiction. I think it can be really interesting to explore the motives behind a character's decision to end their life. It's definitely one of my favorite plot points to include in a story. But the suicide aspect of Sister wasn't that interesting or unique or anything else of the sort. It was just a contrived plotline. Not only that, but the dust jacket really makes the book sound like it's about, at its core, the bonds between sisters and that's why Beatrice feels she owes it to her sister to find out the truth. But I really was not feeling this bond that was being described. I really didn't feel like Beatrice knew her sister anymore than the reader did, which obviously was not the intention of the author. I felt Beatrice knew Tess when they were kids, but all she's done since they've been adults is criticize her liberal and open-minded lifestyle, and resent her for not taking her advice. I don't think she knew who her sister was at all, really. I think Lupton spent too much time devising and plotting how the story would be resolved that she didn't focus enough time on developing her characters into actual people. Yes, we get to read and find out all these "interesting" details about the late Tess' life, but that was about all I felt I knew about her when I think, for the sake of her and the story itself, I should have known more. The same goes for Beatrice, but it's even worse in her case. I felt like I didn't know her at all other than the fact that she became ridiculously obsessed over finding out what happened to her sister.

Also, what was so boring about Sister was that it spent a lot of time exploring the living characters' grief, which is a plot point that is glossed over in a lot of other thrillers. And there's a reason why it's glossed over in a lot of other stories: because it's dead boring. It's not interesting. I'm supposed to care about Beatrice's plight to find out what happened to her sister, but after 200 pages, I just really didn't. I think I realized the character and storyline were beyond redemption when I started to sympathize with the people who were telling Beatrice that she was crazy and she should let it go.

And, honestly, the ending is just plain bad and implausible. I'll keep this review spoiler-free, but I will say that they introduced the plotline that would end up being the resolution to the story way too late in the book. And by that point, I'd given up hope on the characters or the story, so. But, I suppose Sister did have some somewhat okay parts. The writing style was kind of interesting and unique, but the fact that the story is told from Beatrice's perspective became a drag by the end, because she became so annoying. This book was recommended to me on Goodreads because I read The Girl on the Train, which is one of my favorite thrillers. So if you also read that and Goodreads recommends Sister to you, my suggestion is to just keep scrolling. 2.5/5 stars.

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