3 Stars

Mini Review | None of This is True by Lisa Jewell

⭐⭐⭐ 3/5 – It was finally my turn on the waitlist for Lisa Jewell’s latest thriller! This one is fantastic in audio format, but didn’t excite me as much as I expected.

I’ve been on the waiting list for this book for so long! I finally got my turn last weekend and got through most of it over two days while I worked on the painting I’m doing for my brother’s Christmas gift (he requested “ugly art”).

Lisa Jewell knows what she is doing. She writes addictive mystery thrillers with realistic characters and complex relationships, that always keep me guessing. If its a Lisa Jewell book those things are pretty much guaranteed.

The premise of this one had me really looking forward to it – a strange woman befriends a podcaster and drags her into her strange, dark world. An unreliable narrator – you know I love that! However, something was missing for me.

I think the biggest problem is that the title and the structure of the narrative kind of give away the fun? Before you even start the book you know that someone isn’t telling the truth, so right away I know not to trust anything Josie says!

Then the narrative jumps around between Alix and Josie’s “present day” perspectives, as well as clips from the Netflix documentary and Alix’s eventual podcast. So we also know, right away, that something very bad happened to Alix’s husband after he was picked up in the opening pages!

So the remaining bits of mystery are to figure out what exactly Josie’s deal is? But then I thought it was pretty clear from the off she was just a manipulator obsessed with her own victim complex, and that Alix is going to lift her up into a new life.

While the writing does an excellent job at slowly building an atmosphere of foreboding as Josie’s presence grows more insidious, when we learn in the novel that her story wasn’t the truth it’s expected not a surprise twist. The only remaining mysteries whether she got caught.

The ending then tries to pull perhaps another switch? Is that a final twist, or is it another feature of Josie’s delusions and apparent victim complex? I felt it was too ambiguous, and was confused what kind of conclusion the reader was supposed to make. If it was a twist it’s too late in the novel so it’s just frustrating, if it’s just Josie being Josie it didn’t sell it to me.

Perhaps if we’d had some POV from Josie after the shit hit the fan that would have cleared up her state of mind. Although I understand the novel is trying to frame things as a Netflix documentary, and the only record of Josie exists pre-kidnapping (except we did have her POV chapters earlier on so that doesn’t 100% make sense!)

The novel also ended up extremely muddy over Josie’s relationship with her much older husband. It is undisputed fact that they met when she was 14, and married when she was 18. Even if Josie was the instigator, even if she wasn’t groomed, Walter still willingly entered a relationship with a teenage girl (while married with kids, and having a mistress). He’s still a creepy predator however you paint it.

I don’t think that was made clear enough.

I might have been a bit negative on this one, but be assured it is wildly entertaining and addictive! I definitely recommend getting an audio copy if you can. It works so well with the podcast and documentary clips.

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