This book seemed right up my alley. I went into it expecting something dark twisted and possibly more than a bit uncomfortable. In the beginning this almost seemed like it might pay off but as I got deeper into it, it became painfully obvious where it was actually going.
The story starts off slow which didn’t bother me much until all the questions came and the answers didn’t live up to expectations. Like how Suze met John. His mom was shouting at him about falling down in the kitchen and breaking something and Suze was a nurse in the hospital at the time. The way John and his mother talked I got the impression he was a young kid. However, Suze marries him just two years or more later so at the very least he must be 18 and she’s a nurse, not an intern or anything so I’m placing her at early 20’s. I dunno something about their introduction to each other didn’t spark relationship vibes. It didn’t spark any emotion it just read as information. And unfortunately, the answers it gave fell flat.
Suze, after hearing John shouting about suing the doctor who can’t fix him decides she’s going to be with this guy romantically. He’s been in and out of the hospital consistently for two years and, as far as I can tell they haven’t been on one date, but in a moment when he’s being as obnoxious as he can be that’s when she decides to take him on. It’s hard to get on board with that when we haven’t seen him being overtly nice and a decent human being. Basically, doing what most narcissist and sociopaths do playing it up good to get their prey and then showing their true colours after their brainwashing mission is complete. Without all of this prep work John is immediately unlikeable, especially since our opening to him was textbook manipulation 101 so readers are looking to see how he made her so dependent on him when he’s always sick and actually needs her. How did he nip away at her own self worth to get to this point? But, as I already said it turns out he did nothing, she willingly walked into this.
That is the other thing, John is really unlikeable but so is Suze. When he shouts at her she even mentions that he shouts at everybody but not her. Sigh, so he’s always been an a$$ yet in one of those moments she decides to start loving him. She so passive about everything too. No matter how stuck in the relationship she is without a job John is as good as dead. With all the pent-up negative energy she has she always chooses to stay with him and risk losing the job she needs to take care of him. She’s clearly angry and feels trapped but as all the evidence points to her knowing he was a nuisance before taking him on it’s hard to feel for her deciding it was her duty to help him. He was most definitely not her problem. She was also clearly suffering, even if she didn’t know it, from a need to save people and John was the perfect subject for that. This also made it hard to feel for the end because it’s obvious she’s in this because of her own mental illness crutch so she’s no better off than John.
The plot got more frustrating as the book went on, mostly because we knew what was happening. It was obvious. The fact Suze couldn’t see it was obvious was more of an annoyance than good plotting. Like how she never that I can remember verbalises that he’s clearly addicted to painkillers but only complains she might get fired over it. Or that fact that he was high out of his mind one time yet hadn’t touched the painkillers. Like he’s not supposed to be up about and walking so where did this high come from if the drugs are still there. She’s a nurse she should know better. She catches him walking without his brace but then accuses her landlady of lying about him walking and only vaguely thinks about it when she walks away. There is no way she forgot that he was out and about when she had such an intense reaction to him moving when she saw him.
Then when she finds items in the house under the bed of all places, she accuses the caretaker of leaving them behind. Sigh, after decades of doing the same job why would he go out of his way to walk all the way into her husbands’ room and then, of all things, shove the evidence far underneath the bed because that’s what criminals do hide the weapon at the scene. The more time we spent in her head the less likely her level of naivete felt believable. Then the ending comes and it’s just over. She takes the crazy route instead of just leaving John alone to deal with the situation unsatisfied with the prospect of his addiction never being fulfilled again. Now they’re both crazy and John is enjoying his crazy, I doubt Suze is though so it feels like she lost here. And it’s abrupt. Like over.
Maybe if it ended differently this might have read better. Maybe if John came off more as manipulative and lovable instead of whiny and annoying the present ending might have fit better. Maybe if it felt like Suze was manipulated into this marriage with more setup and groundwork written into the story I would’ve liked her more. Especially if, as a nurse, she wasn’t so clueless to not notice the signs once they happened. It’s hard to believe that after all those years together he’d suddenly make his first mistake. There had to be signs before this.
Also, it’s hard to believe that with his condition he would jeopardise the family income because he can’t possibly feed his desire without her insurance, and the meals she provides him, the hospital stays he loves so much would be gone. All situations are relative so it’s hard considering his situation that he’d even allow the business to go under. The way it happened felt too easy. There are so many simple, dark and manipulative things he could’ve done to ensure he kept Suze trapped. most of them would help feed his addiction so it’s odd he’d intentionally let a world that is easily designed to support his habit crumble considering what his habit actually is. He’s an addict, destroying the source of his addiction is counterproductive.
I think this is where it all fell apart for me. I couldn’t feel for either of these characters. Neither of them read as unintelligent enough to make the decisions they made. The eerie dark feeling of the plot didn’t get a chance to settle in because John’s character was always off so it was all a matter of waiting for Suze to realise what we all knew pretty much from the beginning of the story. It didn’t dig deep enough into Suze’s psychosis for me to buy the snap at the end and John was too annoying and what he was doing was obvious enough that I couldn’t take him seriously.
This story got more average as I continued reading. The good thing is it was written well, the pacing was fine. I never felt bogged down reading it or so annoyed I gave up on it. It was definitely an okay read. It just wasn’t as intense as I expected it to be and I didn’t hate or love the characters enough to get attached to this story.