Saturday, 29 July 2017

Book Review: I See You

As the second novel written by Clare Mackintosh, I feel like there has been either a lot of hype, or a lot of hate surrounding this novel. The danger is, I suppose, to compare two completely different novels. I began reading this novel at the suggestion of my mother, who has excellent taste in books. Having not read her debut, I wasn't sure what to expect from her as a writer; the first thing that struck me was that it was told from such a modern perspective on life. Featuring social media and other forms of 'journey tracking', it was amazing how much it struck me, being a born and bred Londoner reading familiar commuting routes and different London Underground lines. This novel was so gripping as it was such a look into the future; a glimpse of how simple it can be stalk people, to literally affect daily lives through social media, mobile phones and other online activities. One thing that was particularly awful to imagine is the unfortunate truth that we are living in a society where we are not truly in control of ourselves; the government and various others have hidden cameras and surveillance anywhere and everywhere, not only watching, but quite literally analysing day to day life.

As a woman, it was pretty horrific to imagine being in the position of Zoe, one of the main characters. She found a picture of herself in a free newspaper and each day noticed a different woman featured in the same advertisement. You could be forgiven for thinking that she's overreacting, stressing about why it's her photograph and how it got there, particularly when her family insist that it's not her and she shouldn't worry. However PC Kelly takes her claim very seriously, especially as she's based on the tube network. Both Zoe and Kelly have their own issues, but I preferred Kelly as a character overall as I found her input, her perspective and her drive to be not only incredibly interesting, but also a key feature to some of the major issues drawn out throughout the novel. The main plot is about an investigation into a website directing paying clients to rape and kill women using the transport network, which is not a joke if you're a regular on public transport. I definitely found myself looking over my shoulder far more than necessary whilst reading this novel. It had a great pace; super fast all the while staying to the point and fairly detailed, particularly when the narrative voice was through Kelly (in third person), although Zoe's narrative (in first person) was also interesting as she was constantly doubting herself and looking around corners. Out of the two women, Zoe was definitely less focussed on the heart of the mystery; much of her input was about her everyday life, her family and her job.

An unknown narrator (using the first person) is also highlighted throughout; the words of the stalker. Only on the last few pages is this narrator identified; however I found this narrator to be massively creepy and incredibly unnerving. These little snippets into the sociopaths mind were italicised, making it easy to identify where the narrative changed over into the unknown. As many would argue, the worst part of this narration was the lack of knowing who was behind it, as well as getting a glimpse into just how simple it is to manipulate technology to wrongdoing. This novel dealt with feelings of anxiety and isolation well and clearly displayed them through the various characters presented throughout, regardless of whether they were a key or a background character. The investigation shown from an officers point of view was fantastic, easily the most fascinating part of the narration as it was in great contrast to both the regular view and the sociopathic viewpoint. There were parts where it was slower as through the first person narrative of Zoe, there were many deliberately overanalysed tangents and thoughts being played out.

Overall, I literally could not put this novel down. I was hooked; I'm so frustrated that I never successfully worked out 'whodunnit', the twist at the end is completely worth the wait for me and blew my mind! With hindsight, there were many untrustworthy people and characters spread across the novel so it was difficult to assertain who was who and what the purpose of them was within the plot. The last hundred pages or so flew by for me, I wanted to finish it but also read forever as it was so thrilling. I liked the mix of action and adventure alongside the waiting and mind games, the atmospheric description of what it's like to commute, how you feel hugely claustrophobic and nauseous when someone makes too much physical contact with you. Zoe as a character wasn't the most interesting, but she did work well in comparison to Kelly, who I found not only interesting, but also very engaging and dynamic. The inside information from the police investigation fed through Kelly was a great way to see the crimes from all angles and an unusual style. The big reveal was not only a shock, but also a bizarre and fascinating twist that conveyed that quite literally anyone in this novel could be either a victim, suspect or killer. The writing style was gripping, constantly making me think and I loved that.

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