I recieved a free copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery in exchange for an honest review.
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Popsugar Reading Challenge Prompt: A Debut Novel
A potentially interesting premise that is, unfortunately, not well executed.
Star Rating: ★✰✰✰✰
When he sees what he thinks is a kidnapping, stress management professional Jamie King follows the car, phoning the police in the process. Unfortunately, the attempted rescue goes wrong and ends in an accidental death. When the police arrive they tase Jamie and arrest him.
After his arrest, Jamie starts to feel odd recurring twangs in his head that mostly arise when he is having sex. He finds himself overtaken by lust and ferocity, and the urge to strangle the woman he’s with.
As he tries to figure out what’s going on in his head, he must protect his company from threats from within and outside dangers.
A Beautiful Way to Die is available to buy on Amazon
I really wanted to like this book.
I truly did. The blurb piqued my interest, making the book sound interesting and like my favourite thrillers. But unfortunately, once I started reading, I soon learned that the blurb was the best thing about this book.
Firstly, I found that everything started too quickly. We’re thrown straight into it, with Jamie witnessing a woman being forced into a car and deciding to follow it.
We don’t know anything about Jamie, who he is or even where he is before he does this bizarre thing that ends in someone’s death. Are we supposed to sympathise with him? I think we’re supposed to see what he did as heroic, but I found it hard to care because we have no reason to care about him.
I know a common writing tip is to start as close to the action of your story as possible, but this was just too quick and with not enough set up to make me care.
Not caring was a common theme for me throughout this book.
I thought that maybe as I got further into the story and learned more about Jamie that I’d start to care about, and sympathise with, him, but the more I found out about his character, the less I cared.
Jamie is a pompous, pretentious man with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. He treats women like crap, and the excuse that’s given for his behaviour in a vague backstory is that some women were mean to him when he was younger. Oh, woe is me. Honest to God, what kind of story is that to write in 2019?
The way women are portrayed in this book is a giant step backwards.
I don’t want to get into a feminist or #metoo rant, but the way the women in this book are described is atrocious.
First of all, there’s the police officer we meet at the beginning, Officer Darling (what a name for a woman, first of all). Before we’ve heard anything from her, Jamie notes that ‘she wasn’t classically beautiful, but was certainly striking,’ and that she has a ‘provocative mouth’. Why is this the first impression we’re getting of one of the first female characters we meet? It’s such a cliched way to describe a woman.
And it doesn’t get better for any of the other women. The names, for starters, are a joke. Bubbles and Barbarella are two actual names of the women in this book. Bubbles. And. Barbarella.
And the leading lady, Valentina, is so pathetic it made me want to cry at times. She has basically spent the last few years of her life pining over this sad excuse for a man. And when she learns that he has a tendency to try to murder the women he sleeps with by strangulation, she blames the women. She’s horrible to Bubbles when she finds them together after Bubbles has hit Jamie with a paperweight (he was trying to strangle her to death. It was self-defence. Bubbles is the real hero of this story).
The sad excuse for a backstory for Valentina gives nothing valuable to her character, either. The middle section of the book is made up of part of Jamie’s past and part of Valentina’s childhood, and in all honesty, this could all be taken out, and nothing would be lost from the book. It’s not that these backstories are unnecessary. In fact, good backstories for these characters might actually help us understand them more. But their backstories are not good. They’re pointless.
I really hate giving bad reviews.
I try to find something good in every book I read so I’m not just shitting all over someone’s hard work. I realise how much effort goes into writing a book from multiple people from author, to editor, publisher and everyone in between.
But I just couldn’t find anything good in this book. There is no redeeming factor. The characters are horrible, the dialogue is forced, the story itself is nothing like the blurb promises.
Alright, look, this is all just my opinion. Other people might love this book. If you like the sound of my plot description above (I tried to give a bit more detail than the blurb I saw), then don’t hesitate to read it. You might love it.
If however, you trust my opinion and don’t like the sound of any of the things I’ve pointed out, then maybe give this one a miss.
A Beautiful Way to Die is available from Luminare Press and Amazon
(This review can also be seen on Reedsy Discovery here).