Beside Myself – Ann Morgan

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Genre: Thriller, Adult, Mystery

Publication Date: January 14th 2016 by Bloomsbury Publishing

Format: eARC from Bloomsbury Publishing via Netgalley.

Helen and Ellie are identical twins – like two peas in a pod, everyone says. 

The girls know this isn’t true, though: Helen is the leader and Ellie the follower.

Until they decide to swap places: just for fun, and just for one day.

But Ellie refuses to swap back…

And so begins a nightmare from which Helen cannot wake up. Her toys, her clothes, her friends, her glowing record at school, the favour of her mother and the future she had dreamed of are all gone to a sister who blossoms in the approval that used to belong to Helen. And as the years pass, she loses not only her memory of that day but also herself – until eventually only ‘Smudge’ is left.

Twenty-five years later, Smudge receives a call from out of the blue. It threatens to pull her back into her sister’s dangerous orbit, but if this is her only chance to face the past, how can she resist?

(from goodreads.com)


 

I’m going to start by saying that I nearly did not finish this book at 15%. Characters play such an important role in whether I like a book or not, and I hated all of the characters at the early stages in the book. I mean, the mother was just awful and the way the twins treated each other was absolutely vile. The mother was the worst, the way she treated the one daughter like a princess and spoilt her rotten and the other one like she was an irritation. They’re twins. It doesn’t matter who is who, they should be treated equally. This hatred of the characters nearly made me leave it. It’s only because I was so kindly given this for review that I actually made myself finish it. It’s sad, because it looked so interesting in the summary on Netgalley.

Having said that, it did grow on me. The book alternates between the past and the present tense (I’ll talk about this in a minute) and while I couldn’t care less about the childhood chapters / parts, I quite liked the ones that talked about Smudge and I began to feel something like sympathy towards her *gasps*. I found the present tense of the story much more interesting (and the later past-tense parts) as they were not so much about interaction with the other characters, rather they looked into Smudge’s life and isolation.

The writing style wasn’t for me either, though before I explain why, I can see why people may enjoy it. I just found it too jumpy and manic, and it frequently distracted me from the story itself because I couldn’t get on with it. I also had a problem with the way that the ‘past tense’ parts changed from first to second person around halfway through for no apparent reason. The only thing I have to say about this is why?

I would not call this a thriller, it didn’t have the normal intensity that so often makes thrillers difficult for me to read (I don’t deal well with scary / tense moments). At the same time, I have no idea what I’d actually classify this as, but me mentioning this is more of a heads-up if you’re expecting something extremely fast-paced, with action and mystery. Having the alternating past/present pretty much ensures there is no mystery (though I’m not complaining because I’m not sure I could have read it if it worked through chronologically). A lot have said this is a psychological thriller, and yes, it does play with the mind a lot, so I guess that’s the best option.

I was expecting to end up so confused throughout this book, seeing as two twins had swapped names. My initial thoughts before I started reading were along the lines of ‘how is this not going to be confusing?’. But I wasn’t confused once. Morgan really did this well. By focusing on the one twin, it made it a lot easier to follow and I applaud her for this, because there was a lot of potential for this to go wrong.

Despite what I’ve said, I wouldn’t ‘not’ recommend this book. I’m not going to sit here and tell you all to go out and buy it immediately because that wouldn’t be fair. But if you are interested in the storyline and you want a book with a different writing style, then this book is for you. I’ve read some reviews that have rated this book higher purely because they loved the writing, so it definitely depends on what makes you enjoy and want to read on with a story. For me, it’s definitely the characters, but these did improve later on in the book, and I was much more invested in later chapters than in the beginning, so don’t be put off if you do pick it up but don’t like it to start with.

Rating: 2 / 5.

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