Posted in Book Reviews

Got a Secret, Can You Keep It?

dont-tell-anyone
Title: Don’t Tell Anyone
Author: Eleanor Gray
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Publication date: December 8th 2016
Format: eARC
Rating: ⭐️⭐️

the-review
This blurb is full of promises. A dead teenager daughter. A sentenced boy who might or might not be a killer. Justice gone wrong. Gangs. A search for the truth. A close look at a mother/daughter relationship. And most importantly: secrets.
But the biggest surprise for me was that I finished this book.

I admire authors who decide to make their characters unlikable. Most readers don’t mind it and it is okay for me, as long as the protagonists manage to make me feel emotions, even though it is only anger or hatred. I need emotions, good or wrong, to get involved. After all, you don’t have to be chummy with all the characters you meet, just as you don’t friend every people you meet in the street or spend hours locked in a study room with. But I like my unlikable characters to have a motive for not being what I expected of them. Here, Grace was just a woman I would never want to talk to, would I ever have the luck to meet and get to know her.

It all started with the opening. Grace and her husband are taking a break and decide to tell their daughter. A few lines in and I knew Grace was not my kind of woman. Yes, she was understandably hurt, yes she felt betrayed, but her inner thoughts and reactions sounded a bit off to me. She was clinging to a man who obviously had no more concern for her well-being. I know, it happens a lot. So I let it go with a rolling of my eyes and a sigh.

“I’ve never been very good at being on my own.”

But the next chapter condemned her character to be one of the few I don’t want to remember in a couple of weeks. I am a big fan of “show, don’t tell.” Except here everything is told and what is showed is unnecessary. I can only take so many times a character saying how sad and hollow she feels and just how no one can understand. This is what you get throughout the story, as Grace clings to memories, false hopes and questions about her daughter. I could have coped with a grieving mother if only she hadn’t been so madly in love with her husband and ready to forget everything just to have him back. I guess I expected a strong woman fighting for her daughter, but I met a weak ex-wife in need. Grief can make you do all kind of things, but it was Grace’s personality I had a problem with. If I was angry with her at first, I soon stopped caring for her.

“Everybody has a secret life, a fantasy world in which they are beautiful or handsome and when they can have whoever in whatever way they choose.”

I do need to mention Doug, the only character I warmed to in this story. Big, capable, who can’t be quite called innocent. A Doug is handy to fix issues you can’t handle yourself.
Grace’s family was colorful but again everything was shown instead of letting the reader make their own opinion through the characters’ actions, which made the whole thing rather dull.
Tara was a shadow that I never really got to know or understand, a typical teenager with crises, secrets, and lipstick. Her relationship with her mother is only explored in a superficial way to remind us just how good children are good at hiding things from their parents. I wish I had seen more of their days together to confront it to Grace’s grief and understand her a little better. I did feel sorry for Tara’s boyfriend at times, as well as his family, but our connection was also too superficial to make me care about what would happen to them.

With all of this said, why did I finish the book in one sitting?

I blame my unhealthy need to be right! See, a couple of chapters into the story, I was debating whether or not to give up on the book when Jordan’s father met Grace to convince her his son was innocent. My interest was kindled and I wondered what would make Grace believe him. I kept asking myself how I would react if faced with the same situation. Pages later, a couple of hints appeared and my brain went full on into all-scenario-possible mode. The author had managed to pick my curiosity somehow, despite my lack of feelings for any characters. It certainly had to do with the suspect-husband trope I love so much. Also, Tara had a “big secret” and this word acts like a spell on me. A secret means there is some digging to be done and boy do I love to dig! I ended up with a weird but plausible theory. Theories are good so long as you can verify them. I had no other choice than to rush through the book to check if my instinct was right. The pace of the plot was quite uneven, steady at times, too slow or on the fast track in some chapters, but there was definitely enough red herrings to keep me going. It turned out I was right, so no big surprise but it always feels good when you unravel the truth before it is revealed to you.

The ending itself felt a bit rushed and easy when you think of just how many things Grace had to go through to reach the truth. The gang aspect was a good one but I felt it could have been explored more instead of only relying on clichés and a quick denouement. I had a hard time believing Grace’s issues could be resolved in a couple of hours by the snap of a finger, no matter how capable the fingers! All questions were answered so I did not feel cheated but it doesn’t mean I was satisfied.

Overall I feel Don’t Tell Anyone had a promising synopsis and a lot of potential that was not explored enough for me to get involved with the plot or characters. You might enjoy it if you are looking for an easy read in the psychological thriller genre.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending me a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

You can buy Don’t Tell Anyone on Amazon

35 thoughts on “Got a Secret, Can You Keep It?

    1. I always try not to DNF an ARC because there’s a responsibility that comes with requesting a book. This one was not the hardest but I wish I could have cared about the characters. Thankfully I finished it in one day.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. “But the biggest surprise for me was that I finished this book.” Hahahaha

    I think you’ve explained perfectly well why this didn’t work for you and while the synopsis seemed great, I’m going to follow your advice!!!

    Like

    1. xD That was me speaking the truth. I’m still wondering why I spent one entire afternoon reading it, haha!
      Compared to some of the brilliant books we’re read in the genre, I do feel this one doesn’t need to be at the top of your list 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I wanted a real reason to not like the main character, actions with a real motivation, not just a terrible personality. But we can’t win the lottery with every book we read! 🙂

      Like

  2. Ha! Well, at least it grabbed your attention enough to make you keep reading! yeah, I can cope with unlikeable characters but they have to be unlikeable in an interesting way – not whiny! Thanks for the review – I think I’ll give this one a miss… 😉

    Like

    1. This story has just the right amount of hints to keep you reading 🙂 I admit I had to force myself at times but I couldn’t just leave without the answers I was looking for. I always try to understand characters and find ways to appreciate them but Grace was a lost case!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Unrelatable douchebag characters really do make a book suck , best of luck with your next read , hopefully it will be more to your liking

    Like

  4. Love your honest thoughts on this… I haven’t read the book but as much as you’ve told us about Grace, I wouldn’t like her either.
    I am however still wondering how the book ends and who’s to blame so maybe, just maybe, I need to give this a go someday…

    Like

    1. See, that’s the problem. The characters are quite bland but there are many questions and just for the sake of knowing, you want to grab the book! Been there, done that! You might as well play the detective as I did with this story 🙂 It probably won’t be all surprising, but there’s enough to keep you going and invent the craziest things about what happened.

      Like

  5. Bummer this didn’t work for you but your review was thoughtful and honest. I agree that too much telling and irrelevant showing would have bothered me to

    Like

    1. I’m such a big fan of “show, don’t tell” that it was disappointing to see everything presented so easily. I know it is difficult for authors to find the right balance at times but this one had way too much telling it went to annoying to really boring.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great review! I’m kind of glad I didn’t request this one now haha, although it sucks you had to suffer through this one. Like you I always try to avoid DNFing an ARC… Luckily it was at least a fast read. 😉

    Like

    1. Yes, thankfully I finished it in one day. I only skimmed a bit, I’m proud of myself 🙂 That’s when I think I should stop requesting ARCs.. then I see a book that looks interesting and I forget!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a good fair review Donna, and well done you for finishing it in one go! Impressive. I always find these kind of books harder to review because you don’t want to be rude, but you want to give your honest opinion.
    Amanda.

    Like

    1. I still don’t really understand why I spent my afternoon with this book! 🙂
      2-star reviews take me a couple of days to write because I really don’t want to be disrespectful but I need a way to express what dit not work for me. It can be really tricky. I know some bloggers don’t review books with low ratings on their blog but I think it is as important to be able to express what you don’t like so the readers can understand better how you rate the different books.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh dear oh dear oh dear! It’s never a good thing when you struggle to finish. But I get what you mean about needing to finish to know if I’m right in thrillers! I agree I can hate a mc and still enjoy the book- as long as the book makes me feel something!

    Like

  9. You rated it worse than me! Haha! I hated this book so much I really think 2 stars is way more appropriate than the 3 I gave it. The publicist must’ve gotten me on a nice day because it was a chore to read. 😂 Lovely review, bestie!

    Like

  10. Ahh, unfortunate that it didn’t deliver when the blurb seemed filled with promises. It’s always a nice feeling to have your theories verified and feel satisfied that you were right in the end. Can’t blame you for finishing this even though it didn’t give many reasons to keep on going! Great and honest review! 🙂

    – Lashaan

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s