#allthebookreviews – Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

Another Monday is here and that means more books!

Thanks to MCD/FSG Books for the advanced copies in exchange for our honest reviews.

OUR KIND OF CRUELTY – Araminta Hall (out now!)

Check out what Chandra and I thought of this one 🙂

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Chandra’s Thoughts: 3.5/5 stars

I’ve seen sleight references to Kepnes’s You and Montes’s Perfect Days in reviews of this novel and I think that it does a little bit of a disservice to this novel.  While there are similar undertones, in those two books we see obsession and stalkerish behavior from men who focus in on a woman they either don’t know or barely know.  (Don’t worry, this doesn’t spoil either of those books.)  What this book does differently is take a man who had a nine year relationship that ends…. and THEN his obsession begins/worsens.  With the woman he fell in love with.  The woman he thought he was going to spend the rest of his life with.  The only other person who understood and liked to play the same games that he did.  He would do anything for her.  Wouldn’t you, for the one you love?

I can tell this is probably going to be a very divisive book.  While we have seen stories similar to this with obsessive boyfriends/husbands, etc., this one doesn’t quite hook you right in like the others have… or at least not in the same fashion.  Instead, Hall takes us straight into Mike’s mind.  What we get is three parts of Mike’s inner thoughts and feelings and not much else.

Have you ever sat and told a story to a group of friends and one of your friends in the group was in that same situation WITH you and told it differently?  Whether that difference was minute or vastly different, it’s all about the way we perceive the situation at the time.  I’m sure we tend to skew some stories to suit ourselves and eventually end up believing this new version because you’ve told the story over and over again.

This is a straight up character study of Mike and his obsession in getting his ex back.  I’ll admit it did lull for me in quite a few sections – there’s only so much of his inner monologue I could take at times – wash, rinse, repeat.  However, I know it just gives more credence to how an obsessive person thinks and how they manipulate the situations to suit them.

What saved this book at the end for me was Part Three when they’re in court.  Certain parts angered me in the sexist views and fighting of the lawyers and how (whether true or not) the sexual behaviors of Mike and V, though the same, was less of a bad impression for Mike since he is a man. *puke* But let’s not go there or I’d be writing all night long.  The battle in how lawyers can manipulate the situation to suit their case always fascinates me.  It’s also a constant reminder that sometimes it’s just guilty until proven innocent and our system isn’t the greatest… sometimes.

In any case, I’m torn in what I feel about this book.  As a character study delving deep into Mike’s psyche, I LOVED it.  Did it pull me in or make me scream at the top of my lungs?  No, but it’s definitely well done in showing how this type of personality works.  What you see isn’t always what you get… and in this case what Mike thinks he’s seeing … well, we don’t REALLY know, or do we?

My Thoughts: 4/5 stars

When reading the synopsis and the blurb on the back of the book (from Gillian Flynn), I was instantly pulled into this book. When you see that the author of GONE GIRL is calling this one of the most disturbing reads, you just can’t not pick it up! OUR KIND OF CRUELTY is a great take on obsession and the stalker thriller genre. While it’s not as disturbing as I was anticipating, it was still an eerie and engrossing read.

Mike Hayes had a lonely and quiet life until he met Verity Metcalf. Mike had dedicated his life to becoming the man that V had always wanted and deserved. He just knows that they’ll live happily ever after together. Never mind that she isn’t returning his calls or emails, or that she claims to be marrying someone else. In his mind, it’s all apart of a game they play with each other. If he keeps an eye on her, observes her every move, then he’ll know when to come in and save her.

Sounds crazy, right? Well, once you dive into the book more and learn about their game, things get even more interesting. Araminta Hall knows how to write, and she did a fantastic job pulling me along in the story. I love a good unreliable narrator and never truly knowing which character to trust.

While this doesn’t bring anything terribly new to the stalker thriller genre, it definitely held its own and I can see fans of that subgenre really enjoying this. This is one I can also see people being split on in terms of how twisty and disturbing they find it. Seasoned vets in the thriller genre may not be as on their toes as other readers, but I think it’ll still be an enjoyable and unsettling ride! I can’t wait to see what Hall has in store for us next.

 

What did you think of this one?

–Jess

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