The Night Shift by Alex Finlay (ARC Review)

Thank you, NetGalley, for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

To be frank, I am disappointed.

The Night Shift reads a lot like a knockoff of Riley Sager’s Final Girls, only with three points of view and a focus on the legal side of things. I had high hopes; it’s undoubtedly a good premise, and when I began, I felt a glimmer of hope. But it was quickly extinguished by the mediocre manner of storytelling and somewhat boring cast of characters.

I typically like stories told from multiple points of view, which is why I was, yet again, so surprised by this book. Two of the main characters narrating the story are varying levels of unlikable, and the other is enjoyable but a bit boring. I truly did not care what happened to any of the three of them. The only character I truly felt anything for was a side character who was discarded in the most boring way possible by the end.

On top of that, (and I’m not usually one to complain about this), but the writing of women was just offputting. The female FBI agent was the only tolerable woman of importance in the story, and she referred to an abortion as “taking care of the baby.” Yuck. Just use the word “aborting,” please.

The plot, on the other hand, starts off a little hard to follow because of the jumping from one character to another. Or maybe it was just because I was bored. But it eventually resolved itself to a pace I could enjoy a little more, with plot points that I was able to follow and even be intrigued by. The conclusion was pleasant, though it didn’t address a number of important issues displayed earlier in the book.

That said, there is more good than bad to The Night Shift. I did eventually find myself wondering what would happen. But it’s not one I would recommend to people with my similar taste in thrillers and mysteries. (If you’re more interested in the legal side of things and you don’t mind some odd writing of female characters, this might actually be the perfect book for you.) The best explanation I can give for The Night Shift is how I started this review: a slightly disappointing retelling of Final Girls with a less-than-sympathetic cast.

Elektra by Jennifer Saint (An ARC Review)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thank you, NetGalley, for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

For many, it was Percy Jackson. For me, it was Elektra that made me fall in love with Greek mythology. I’m a little late to the obsessing-over-Greek-myths club, but better late than never!

Following the story of three different but interconnected women, Elektra takes an insightful look at the complex, rich, albeit sometimes tragic relationships between mother and daughter, as well as the devastation of war on both sides of the battle. While I didn’t know much of the stories of Elektra, Clytemnestra, and Cassandra before reading, I was able to catch on easily to their roles.

Each character was written with the utmost care, particularly the three main woman, in such a way that I was able to discern one’s emotions and actions from one another early on in the story. This is something I find particularly important in books including multiple viewpoints; I could tell one woman from another, and I wanted to hear every perspective in turn. None of the women’s stories were a disappointment, and therefore, none of the chapters became boring. Admittedly, I didn’t particularly like Elektra, as a person, but her story was just as interesting to me as the others’.

Next comes the writing: beautiful and poetic, yet not forced. The creative language used in Elektra only made the story richer, and didn’t feel like a tool to fluff up an otherwise disappointing author’s writing.

I was also impressed that Saint was able to include such a long span of time in just one book, and then make it flow naturally. But that’s just what she did.

I don’t say it often, but this is an easy five-star book for me. Jennifer Saint is truly a talented writer, and I will definitely be picking up more of her stories in the future.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Honestly, I’m a bit disappointed with this book after how much I enjoyed A Court of Thorns and Roses. In an effort to make this as clear as possible (and not focus solely on the good or bad), let me give you an idea of the great…and the questionable, as I see it.

What I liked:

  • Azriel, Cassian, and Mor. All three are a great addition to the current cast. It was easy for me to develop feelings for Cassian and Mor right off the bat. Azriel took a bit longer, but only because he talked so little. It was hard to get a read on them. The friendship between the three of them is superbly written as well.
  • The use of Elain and Nesta in this book. They weren’t left out completely or thrown in too often. They had just the right about of time to showcase their personalities and make them truly enjoyable and worth caring about.
  • The clear direction of the story. You have no idea how much I like a book that tells me what the goal is early on. Sometimes I like to know where we’re headed, rather than wander aimlessly from magical land to magical land. In that way, this book was super satisfying.
  • The relationship between Mor and Feyre. I love to read a female friendship that does not consist solely of disagreements and distrust. Mor and Feyre legitimately love and trust each other, and they did right from the start.
  • Lucien. I consider myself lucky to get even a speck of Lucien content. What a thoroughly well-written, compelling character. I want a book focused totally on him, please.
  • The end. Oh my goodness, did that surprise me. I am truly impressed by the note Sarah left us on. Despite the meh-ness of certain parts of this book, the final scenes actually make me consider continuing the series.

What I disliked:

  • Feyre’s disagreeableness. I understand her getting overwhelmed and upset at times, but her near constant sniping at Rhys got old, fast. You can only say something nasty or storm off (and then regret it five minutes later) so many times before I lose interest. I wanted to love her again, as I did in the first book, but I found myself more annoyed than understanding of her.
  • The sex. Good lord, some of it was just not necessary. Sorry, but ACOTAR did it better.
  • Making [a previously likeable character who I won’t mention here] such a bad guy. It’s entirely possible that I’m mistaken and the twist was planned before the first book, but the way it was written felt like such a forced way to push Feyre in a certain direction romantically.
  • The word “mate.” I might vomit if I ever have to hear that word again.

There’s a little taste of my thoughts on the book. It was more good than bad for me, but I definitely had a number of points that had me going “ick.” Will I read the next? I’ll have to think about it. It took me months to finish this one, so with any luck I’ll have the next book read in no longer than five years’ time 🙂

Final Girls by Riley Sager

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

My entire synopsis in three words? Another great thriller.

And for any of you who know me and my reviews well, you know I love a great thriller. Even better, a great thriller including characters with whom I empathize; and a step up from that, a twisty ending. Final Girls included all of the above. Now, I’m not going to call this my perfect book, hence the four and a half stars instead of five, but it’s a short step away from being everything I wanted. Riley Sager just did so much right.

The main character, Quinn, is truly a well written individual. I understood her. I felt for her. And above all, I wanted to read her story. And without that itty bitty final element, a book tends to lose me really quickly. Sager was able to write Quinn as a potentially unreliable narrator while not irritating me with the fact that she might not be totally trustworthy at all times, and that is truly a talent.

As far as the side characters went, they were all over the place: big hit or big miss or completely blah. For me, the hit was the officer, Coop. I thought he was just offputting-yet-trustworthy enough to be of interest. I understood why Quinn felt the way she did about him; it would be hard to help after the situation she’d been in.

The miss was the friend whose name I won’t mention for spoiler purposes, though I ended up gaining a bit more appreciation for the character as the story went on. Finally, the blah was the boyfriend, Jeff. He wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t great. Just there, which somehow worked for me.

Now, there is something about this story that I deeply appreciate but I don’t see often enough in the books I read. I think it’s only right to acknowledge it fully here. Two of the important side characters have very different but very controversial jobs: a police officer and a defense attorney. I love how the topics of their jobs are handled. There are moments where their controversial jobs are brought into question, and here’s what is so genius about the writing:

Sager is so completely true to the story and the character, I saw no flicker of the author’s out-of-the-blue opinions in those moments, just the characters’. In the brief times one was made out to be the bad guy, it was entirely due to believable reasons from the character’s standpoint and the story’s plot. For that, I commend you, Mr. Sager.

There is something so special about reading a story and never thinking “oh, there’s the author’s opinion awkwardly shoved in where it feels strange and wrong!” You know what I mean?

All in all, I can say I will likely pick up another of his books in the future. I am impressed by all aspects of this book and would certainly recommend it to anyone looking for a thriller to keep them guessing.