Book Review: The Sister, by Louise Jensen
Updated: Aug 1, 2020
First, I alternated between reading this book and listening to the audio version. When I do this, I find big differences in my perceptions of the story, and subsequently the way I review it, based on a number of criteria (see The Audio Book Review below). So, heads up, I preferred the audio version.
Second, when I first saw the title on Amazon: The Sister: A psychological thriller with a brilliant twist you won't see coming, I admit I bought the book to see if the subtitle (stretching the definition here) would make good on its promise. And truly, I never got over the full title, regardless of how else I felt about the book. Admit it, this is a weird thing to add to your title, and it's off-putting because it's sheer click-bait.
My Book Review
Despite my aversion to the title, The Sister did a lot of other things right. The prose was well done—could have been tweaked, editorially speaking—but it was the author's style and quick plotting pace that really elevated my opinion. I kept churning through the pages to see what would happen next.
The Sister is part psychological thriller, part mystery, part action—a great combo. It dips back and forth between Then and Now, incorporating some nice twists and turns into the mix. It was just enough of a thriller to keep me on edge, but not so much that I had to take a break and watch a romantic comedy.
Here's the synopsis:
Grace hasn't been the same since the death of her best friend Charlie. Haunted by Charlie's last words, and in a bid for answers, Grace finds Charlie's old memory box which reveals some surprising things she didn't know about her best friend. When Grace starts a campaign to find Charlie's father, Anna, a girl claiming to be Charlie's sister steps forward. For Grace, finding Anna is like finding a new family, and soon Anna has made herself very comfortable in Grace and boyfriend Dan's home. But something isn't right. Things disappear, Dan's acting strangely, and Grace is sure that someone is following her. Is it all in Grace's mind? Or as she gets closer to discovering the truth about both Charlie and Anna, is Grace in terrible danger?
I liked Grace and thought she was pretty believable, except for maybe two instances that tripped me up. There, I felt she was too gullible to not catch on about things that may as well have had spotlights aimed at them. She was otherwise very likeable, and I did root for her, especially when it came to her dealings with the significant headaches in her life—Charlie, Dan, Anna, Charlie's mother Lexie, and other characters.
About that title. I did see the twists coming. Maybe it's because I'm a writer and foreshadowing is part of the gig so I recognize it, but this is where the book's weird title runs afoul. It was actually a brilliant lie. But hey, sucked in by click-bait, I bought the book!
So, cut to the chase, I really enjoyed The Sister and give it 4 out of 5 stars.
My Audio Book Review
Voice is everything in an audiobook. If I can't live with it for the span of the story because the narrator is shrill, too perky, overdramatic, or otherwise hard on the ears, I'll stop listening. I've done it many times, so authors, be picky when you choose a narrator for your stories. The narrator for The Sister was Natalie Blass. I absolutely loved her voice; she did everything right. She also sounded a lot like Minnie Driver, so that was a plus too. I would listen to pretty much anything Blass narrates, after listening to her narrate this.
I did enjoy this book more on audio, partly because the narrator was so engaging and also because I could take off my editor's glasses and just enjoy it. Because the plot kept me curious, I stayed up way past my bedtime listening, anxious for what might happen next. For me, that's a sign of a great book.
I recommend this audio book, and give it 4 stars.