I finally FINALLY started my first book by B.A. Paris! I’ll take some applaud, haha! I am so guilty of having left this title on my Kindle for too long… But the damage is now repaired!
Thank you to St Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Title: The Breakdown
Author: B.A. Paris
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Date of publication: July 18th 2017
Number of pages: 336
If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?
Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside—the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.
But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.
The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.
Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…
I really took my time before picking The Breakdown. First, the hype scared me! Would it be another case of me against the bookish world? Could I appreciate the story itself without the experience being tainted by everyone’s reviews and thoughts? So I let the book sleep in my Kindle, promising myself I’d give it a go later. Then a few mixed reviews came out and I wondered, but by that time I was already too busy and too buried under blog tours to fit the story into my schedule…
This is how I ended up choosing The Breakdown as my Christmas read. Twenty-four hours later, I don’t regret this decision!
I love it when books get me in the unsettling and disturbing position of “What would I do?” There is something so cathartic about the exercise of putting yourself in the character’s shoes and trying to figure out what your chain of thoughts and actions would be in a given situation. Of course, there is no way of actually knowing how I’d react. Hidden behind the screen of my Kindle, I can leisurely think all option through, but I feel like a cat chasing the mouse, and it is too exciting to miss.
So yes, from the first pages on, I was flat-out on the guessing game! Why was the car there? Why didn’t the other woman do anything? What would have happened if Cass had gotten out of her car in the middle of the woods?? All those questions had me in such a state that I did not really pay attention to Cass in the first place. I thought her reactions were quite normal. I mean, I would have been quite shaken if the woman I had tried to help had been found the next day! But suddenly, the seeds planted by the author started to grow and the thorn in Cass’ foot turned her whole body and life gangrenous!
Cass struck me as a lovely and normal woman stuck in a bizarre and creepy situation, until the “forgetting things” issue took a worrying level. With cases of dementia and Alzheimer in the family, the problem struck a cord and I became aware of every single detail in B.A. Paris’ writing. Unreliable characters have a way of either making you root for them and want to help them, or completely get on your nerves and make you close the book. For me, it’s the cherry on any story’s cake! Not knowing if I can trust what I’m told, what I see through the main protagonist’s eyes makes me jumpy, on guard, and keeps me hooked! I felt for Cass and could not believe what was happening…
Because a lot is happening. Or not happening, depending on who you side with, who you trust, and what you decide to keep! If at the start I was skeptical when Cass so quickly turned into a bundle of nerves, I soon realized there was a reason behind it all and for once, me, the lover of strange and awful domestic tales, did not see anything coming!
I was overwhelmed by Cass’ feelings and my own emotions, mixing all our scenarios without being able to come up with a satisfying answer. It was as though pages had holes in them whenever Cass missed a meeting or forgot she had done something. I was living hell with her, feeling hopeless, queasy, and uneasy. I was turning back pages to make sure I hadn’t miss anything but, like judges, the black letters and white paper accusingly stared back with no reply. Nervous, on the edge, completely out of our minds, us? Why?? Haha!
Every time I thought the tension couldn’t rise higher, I was hit by a new wave of stress, an element to shut me up, to make me question whether or not I had been right standing by Cass’ side. At some point, I was just waiting for it to be over, completely taken over by the story. I abandoned all attempts at solving the puzzle and just enjoyed… No, enjoyed is not the right word. Let’s say I followed the muddled path until the epiphany came with a mix of fear, hope, and excitement!
For my defense, every character played their part right. Too right for me to figure out who was doing what behind the fog Cass and myself were forcefully stranded into. Only when Cass went back to being Cass again did I go all “OF COURSE!!!!” I’m not ashamed, I bow to the author and her skillfully weaved plot.
I devoured The Breakdown as much as it devoured me. One sitting, and then, the parting. But boy, what a fantastic unique sitting!
You can find the story in bookstores and on Amazon!