A man and his girlfriend, on their way to a secluded farm, take an unexpected detour that leaves the woman stranded in a deserted high school, wondering if there is any escape from the twisted manifestations that are haunting her. A first novel. - (Baker & Taylor)
Now a Netflix original movie, this deeply scary and intensely unnerving novel follows a couple in the midst of a twisted unraveling of the darkest unease. You will be scared. But you won’t know why…
I’m thinking of ending things. Once this thought arrives, it stays. It sticks. It lingers. It’s always there. Always.
Jake once said, “Sometimes a thought is closer to truth, to reality, than an action. You can say anything, you can do anything, but you can’t fake a thought.”
And here’s what I’m thinking: I don’t want to be here.
In this smart and intense literary suspense novel, Iain Reid explores the depths of the human psyche, questioning consciousness, free will, the value of relationships, fear, and the limitations of solitude. Reminiscent of Jose Saramago’s early work, Michel Faber’s cult classic Under the Skin, and Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk about Kevin, “your dread and unease will mount with every passing page” (Entertainment Weekly) of this edgy, haunting debut. Tense, gripping, and atmospheric, I’m Thinking of Ending Things pulls you in from the very first page…and never lets you go. - (Simon and Schuster)
*Starred Review* The narrator of the story is a nameless young woman who is in a newish relationship with Jake, but she has some doubts about where it's going and is thinking about ending things. Their relationship is based on a shared communication style, which moves to the physical, but it is their philosophical conversations that truly move the relationship along. Jake invites the narrator to go home to meet his parents and see the farm where he grew up in a remote village. The family dinner is odd, but the ride back home even more so, with detours to a Dairy Queen staffed by giggling girls and to a dark, deserted high school. This is a powerfully atmospheric book, and the cold, snowy night really ups the creepy factor, as the story grows more diabolical and dangerous with each turn of the page. The narrative is written in the first person, though it's interspersed with an occasional page from a parallel story from a different point of view, and eventually it appears that the two stories will converge. These characters are carefully developed and the plot takes some frightening turns, leading to a shocking ending. The construct of this book is brilliant and unusual and should appeal to fans of psychological thrillers, as well as to some horror fans. A dark and compelling debut novel, it is a most uncomfortable read but utterly unputdownable. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Dive into a summer of suspense
Readers looking for a great escape from the everyday routine during their vacation will find it in five of the most offbeat thrillers to hit bookshelves this summer. Whether it’s an alternate history in which slavery never ended or a television reality show turned survivor tale, these books will keep readers turning the pages on the plane or on the beach.
MORE THAN A GAME
In her debut novel, The Last One, Alexandra Oliva delivers a pulse-pounding psychological tale of survival. The book starts innocently enough as the 12 contestants on a television reality show are pitted against each other in a game of endurance. The story follows the group through a series of physical challenges and tests of fortitude, with the winners advancing to compete on another night and the losers sent packing. But when a mysterious illness begins taking its toll, things take a dramatic turn. The competitors are all but cut off from the real world and even lose contact with their TV hosts and camera people, leaving them to fend for themselves. At first blush, main protagonist Zoo believes it’s all part of the game, but the deeper she treks into an increasingly apocalyptic landscape, the more desperate and real her situation becomes. The question she must inevitably ask is, how far is she willing to go before her emotional, physical and mental capacity give in to the truth? Oliva masterfully manipulates her characters and the setting, creating a mash-up of popular TV genres: “Survivor” meets “The Walking Dead.”
Wendy Walker continues the theme of psychological suspense with her latest novel, All Is Not Forgotten. The thriller, which has already been optioned by Reese Witherspoon for an upcoming Warner Bros. movie, poses a question: What if you could take a drug that would make you forget about a traumatic experience? The experimental drug is perfectly suited to military members suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, but what if it’s given to someone who is the victim of a violent rape? That’s exactly what happens to teenager Jenny Kramer. But while the drug is able to erase the experience of her rape from Jenny’s memory, the physical and emotional scars remain. Helping Jenny come to grips with the trauma is Dr. Alan Forrester, a psychiatrist who acts as the narrator of this harrowing story. But as Forrester delves deeper into the events of that awful night, and the search for the perpetrator intensifies, Forrester’s own life is rocked by the possibility that his son may have committed the foul deed. The twists and turns of the story all lead up to a read you will not soon forget.
With a timely novel focusing on race and equality, Ben H. Winters turns the issue of slavery on its head in Underground Airlines. In this astonishing alternate history, slavery in America did not end at the climax of the Civil War, but instead has continued to the present day in four states in the Deep South. What’s more, Winters’ main character, Victor, is a free black man whose job is to return escaped slaves to their rightful owners. Like the famed Underground Railroad, slaves vying for freedom make their way across state lines via the Underground Airlines, a system of package trucks, over-the-road haulers and stolen tractor-trailers. Victor’s mission is to infiltrate the system, discover the whereabouts of each escapee and report them to his bosses, who in turn swoop in to apprehend the runaway slave. Of course, things aren’t always what they seem, and Victor’s bizarre allegiance to his employer comes into question when one of his cases turns out to be an insider working to upend the slave empire from within. With Victor’s routine shattered, he’s forced to question everything and determine what it is he stands for, regardless of the consequences. Winters handles the controversial topic with sensitivity, yet isn’t afraid to ask some bold questions along the way.
ONLY THE LONELY
Iain Reid’s debut novel, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, is a tightly crafted, taut thriller that readers can easily finish in a single sitting—perhaps on a lounge chair by the pool. The novel follows a pair of lovers as they embark on a long road trip to meet the parents of the boyfriend, Jake. Things start innocently enough as the narrator recounts how she met Jake, how she was drawn to him and him to her, despite their unremarkable features. But lurking behind everything, our narrator feels a sense of dread and malice altogether unexplainable. Part of it harkens back to a mysterious stranger she once saw looking in her window and to an anonymous caller’s unnerving phone messages. When Jake decides to take a detour, and our narrator is ultimately left abandoned at a deserted high school, the suspense and danger build. Reid’s straightforward voice firmly places the reader in the head of “the girlfriend” as she tries to cope with the psychological torment facing her in this dark and compelling novel.
HOW HE DIED
At first take, Everything I Don’t Remember by Jonas Hassen Khemiri may seem like a daunting read. The novel swiftly hops from one narrator to another, from one time frame to the next, as it follows a decidedly unconventional story structure. But once readers dive in and allow themselves to become fully immersed in the narratives, they’ll be in for one of the most engrossing novels of the summer. A winner of the August Prize, Sweden’s most prestigious literary honor, the novel recounts the tragic life of a man named Samuel through interviews and conversations with the people around him, all leading up to a fatal car crash. At the root of the novel, however, is a complex puzzle of whether Samuel’s death was the result of a tragic accident, a planned suicide or murder. Piecing together the answers is an unnamed narrator who must come to grips with his own interpretation of himself and those around him. Khemiri’s stylistic approach is sure to keep readers of Everything I Don’t Remember enthralled every step of the way.
This article was originally published in the July 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.
Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.
A road trip in a snowstorm takes a sinister turn for a man and his girlfriend, the novel's unnamed narrator. Reid's preternaturally creepy debut unfolds like a bad dream, the kind from which you desperately want to wake up yet also want to keep dreaming so you can see how everything fits together—or, rather, falls apart. The narrator, known only as the girlfriend, is driving with her beau, Jake, a scientist, to meet his parents at the family farm. The relationship is new, but, as the title implies, she's already thinking of calling it quits. Jake is somewhat strange and fond of philosophizing, though the tendency to speak in the abstract is something that unites the pair. The weather outside turns nastier, and Reid intercuts the couple's increasingly tense journey with short interstitial chapters that imply a crime has been committed, though the details are vague. Matters don't improve when Jake and the narrator arrive at the farm, a hulking collection of buildings in t he middle of nowhere. The meeting with her potential in-laws is as awkward as it is frightening, with Reid expertly needling the reader—and the narrator—into a state of near-blind panic with every footfall on a basement step. On the drive back, Jake makes a detour to an empty high school, which will take the couple to new heights of the terrifying and the bizarre. Reid's tightly crafted tale toys with the nature of identity and comes by its terror honestly, building a wall of intricately layered psychological torment so impenetrable it's impossible to escape. Copyright Kirkus 2016 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Reviews
Reid, whose nonfiction includes The Truth About Luck (a Globe and Mail best book in 2013), tries out fiction. Jake is driving "The Girlfriend" (as she's called) to meet his parents at their isolated farm when he inexplicably takes a detour and abandons her. From daring upstart imprint Scout Press.
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Library Journal Reviews
It's snowing, and the unnamed narrator is traveling with her new boyfriend Jake to visit his parents at the family farm. The novel's vague title seems to become clearer as the narrator repeatedly ponders calling off their relationship. While this revelation may not have arrived at the best of times, it's quickly apparent that a failed relationship is the least of her problems. When the couple arrives at their destination, Jake's parents are awkward, and the evening goes from strange to unsettling as the narrator explores the setting of Jake's childhood. When the pair drive home, the weather takes a turn for the worse. Jake turns off the highway and parks by an empty high school. He goes inside, leaving the narrator alone and frightened. When she enters the building, her vague sense of foreboding turns into outright terror. Interspersed throughout are snatches of conversation about some unknown act of violence that only heightens the feeling of unease. VERDICT This slim first novel packs a big psychological punch with a twisty story line and an ending that will leave readers breathless. [See Prepub Alert, 11/30/15; previewed in Erica Neubauer's 2016 Mystery Preview "Edge-of-Your-Seat Thrills," LJ 4/15/16.]—Portia Kapraun, Delphi P.L., IN
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Publishers Weekly Reviews
Nonfiction author Reid (The Truth About Luck) fuses suspense with philosophy, psychology, and horror in his unsettling first novel set in an unspecified locale. When Jake takes his unnamed new girlfriend to meet his parents, he doesn't realize she's thinking of "ending things" (just what she might end is at first unclear). Dinner at the family farm proves awkward, reinforcing her doubts about their relationship. On their way home, the weather turns nasty and Jake pulls off the road at a darkened high school. He takes the keys and exits the car, but never returns, leaving his girlfriend little choice but to strike out after him. While the events preceding the couple's separation have the air of a disquieting dream, those that follow are the stuff of nightmares. Stream-of-consciousness narration by Jake's girlfriend adds to the story's surreal quality, and occasional blocks of unattributed dialogue about an unspecified tragedy impart dread. Capped with an ending that will shock and chill, this twisty tale invites multiple readings. Agent: Samantha Haywood, Transatlantic. (June)
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