We’ll Never Be Apart
★★☆☆☆ (It was OK.)
Please be aware that this review contains spoilers.
“So where does a story that ends in fire and death begin?”
I have to start by saying this: I read a review of We’ll Never Be Apart that spoiled the twist when I was about a third of the way through the book and I wasn’t even mad, because I had long since called the twist. So this “psychological thriller” wasn’t very thrilling. I kept reading to find out how the twist happened, but when it finally came, the denouement glossed over all the interesting bits.
What I really wanted to know was how Alice’s mind warped her memories to make room for Celia. I can understand making up an imaginary evil twin sister. I guess I hoped the writing was cleverer and rather than just twisting her memories, if Alice looked back and realized, like, nobody ever really talked to Celia. (Like how she realizes Chase never actually said Celia was in the D ward.) I was a little surprised by Jason’s twist, at least.
Now, probably, I would’ve enjoyed this more if I were the target audience and unfamiliar with the genre. But only if this is the first psychological thriller I’ve ever read. I’m not a horror fan; I don’t usually scary books – but I do love an unreliable narrator. So this might be “my first psychological thriller,” but I wouldn’t recommend it to a fan of the genre.
Which isn’t to say I couldn’t get into it, but my interest was more in craft than story. I really wanted to see how Alice discovered the truth about Celia. Even though I called the twists, there weren’t many breadcrumbs along the way to let a less genre savvy reader figure it out.
Something that threw me out of the story that I can’t not mention: the repeated use of homophobic slurs. Alice’s roommate, Amelia, repeatedly calls another patient a “muff eater.” Amelia is a sympathetic character, the closest thing Alice has to a friend. Her casual homophobia is never called out. Ouch.
Since we’re on the subject of Alice’s relationships, I need to talk about Chase. Chase. I guess I kind of liked him, but he was more of a cardboard cutout than a person. Frankly, I found it insulting that Alice’s breakthrough comes because of a boy stealing her private medical files and helping her escape the mental hospital to force a confrontation with herself.
How did he sneak around so easily? Escaping the hospital, stealing keycards, sneaking around at night… I think Harry had an easier time creeping around Hogwarts, and Hogwarts is a fantasy boarding school staffed by questionably competent teachers, not a contemporary mental health facility supposedly run by qualified doctors and nurses. Suspension of disbelief suffered.
Judging a Book by Its Cover:
One of the reasons I picked this up was the cover. I remember being little and playing on the swing set outside and trying to see or imagine secret messages spelled out in the branches.
… too bad that had nothing to do with this book. I guess the orange version is firey, but the ebook versions have a purple tone. I guess because of that one time she feels purple?
I would have saved this design for a book about a character with apophenia and given this book a cover that fit its contents.
I didn’t hate it, obviously, because I finished it, but I was disappointed. I wanted the climax/reveal to come sooner (and not because a boy violated her privacy, but it’s OK, because he meant well) and the denouement to last longer (and really get into the nitty-gritty psychological details).