Tuesday, October 17, 2017

This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis

This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis
Release Date - October 10, 2017
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 352 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Sasha Stone knows her place—first-chair clarinet, top of her class, and at the side of her oxford-wearing boyfriend. She’s worked her entire life to ensure that her path to Oberlin Conservatory as a star musician is perfectly paved.

But suddenly there’s a fork in the road, in the shape of Isaac Harver. Her body shifts toward him when he walks by, her skin misses his touch even though she’s never known it, and she relishes the smell of him—smoke, beer, and trouble—all the things she’s avoided to get where she is. Even worse, every time he’s near Sasha, her heart stops, literally. Why does he know her so well—too well—and she doesn’t know him at all?

Sasha discovers that her by-the-book life began by ending another’s: the twin sister she absorbed in the womb. But that doesn’t explain the gaps of missing time in her practice schedule or the memories she has of things she certainly never did with Isaac. As Sasha loses her much-cherished control, her life—and heart—become more entangled with Isaac. Armed with the knowledge that her heart might not be hers alone, Sasha must decide what she’s willing to do—and who she’s willing to hurt—to take it back.

Edgar Award–winning author Mindy McGinnis delivers a dark and gripping psychological thriller about a girl at war with herself, and what it really means to be good or bad.
Mindy McGinnis is an author who is capable of jumping from genre to genre. Her writing is versatile and bends to suit the genre she is writing. It's one of the skills that has made Mindy McGinnis and auto read author for me. This Darkness Mine is a psychological thriller that has a lot to digest and unpack once you've finished reading. Sadly, for me, the book didn't quite work for me even though Mindy's classic sharp writing was on display.

The writing is, perhaps, the element that makes this story work. Mindy McGinnis' addictive prose is more than evident in this page turning read. It compels you to keep reading and is what draws you in. The atmosphere is the second stand out from this novel. It's perfectly unsettling and creeping. You are kept on your toes as the story unravels. It's one of Mindy's greatest strengths as a writer, and it works especially well here.  The setting, atmosphere and building tension are all staples of a good thriller and Mindy's writing showcases all of these.

The biggest problem for me was remaining in the story. I would be pulled in and engaged with what was happening for something to jarringly pull me back out. There are elements that just didn't work for me because they didn't feel plausible within the story presented, or natural to the characters as I saw them. It made it harder to invest in the story and Sasha herself. It made it so I was constantly reminded I was reading a story, rather than experiencing it.

Sasha Stone is an unreliable narrator. We are meant to not trust her. We are provided different reasons that might explain what is happening to Sasha and it is never explicitly proven either way. I tend to love novels like this, and love coming up with my own theories. These types of books always make for great discussions and this is no exception. There is plenty to examine and talk through. The story really works on this level, even if the ending does hint as the truth behind what is happening (at least in my opinion).

There is something here about the privileged 'good girl' who is acting out that I wish had been expanded upon. We spend so much of the novel unsure if Sasha has a mental illness, or if these things are actually happening the way she says they are and as a result I feel this aspect gets a little lost in the noise. This would be my favourite element to explore because it grounds the story in a way. If you strip away the weirdness or strangeness of this novel it becomes very recognizable. Sasha Stone could be Mindy McGinnis' version of Laura Palmer. A spoiled teen rebelling against her parents. A 'nice girl' barely hiding a vicious facade. She becomes someone we all have known at some point. I wish this aspect hadn't been upstaged by everything else because it is where the fascination in the character and story reside for me.

This book was a mixed read for me, and is my least favourite of all the books Mindy has released. It just didn't come together the way I wanted it to, and story didn't resonate as much I had hoped it would. I predict there will be others who love this more than I did, and if this sounds like something you would enjoy I recommend it for for Halloween season as the unsettling atmosphere is something the story does incredibly well. It's perfect for those who like their psychological thrillers with a large side of weird. 

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