Despite the fact that there are millions (probably even billions) of books in this world, an absolute page turner does not lie between the every cover. Therefore, when I find a rare gem, I just have to share it.
Although I am relatively late to the bandwagon on this one, I have been pushing Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent down the throats of everyone since I read it a few weeks ago. Unravelling Oliver tells the story of charming, successful author Oliver Ryan who is admired by everyone, that is until he viciously beats his wife Alice into a coma. The book tells Oliver’s story from his point of view, but also from the point of view of several other characters who try to make sense of what has happened.
I absolutely loved how Oliver’s character unfolded, but it also left me with a plethora of mixed feelings. The opening sentence – “I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.” – just screams monster. And for a lot of the book, Oliver does appear to be just that, a monster. However, as the story progresses and we learn more and more of his back story, a certain softening happens, an almost understanding. This makes our opinion of Oliver less harsh than it was in the beginning and, to be honest, I didn’t like feeling this way. It was an insight to the real world when we see people forgiven, and even supported, following terrible acts as they are usually a “person of good standing”.
The other characters are not as interesting. Although we do catch a glimpse of their personalities, I do believe that their main purpose is for us to learn more about Oliver. Nevertheless, while they don’t stand solidly on their own, having the different characters really gives the reader a rounded perspective of Oliver.
What I most liked about this book was that it was a crime story with a difference. Admittedly, since I read Gone Girl, very few books have stood up against it in terms of originality and surprise. Beyond this being a unique story, I believe Nugent’s writing style made it stand out. It is simplistic but informative and captive. There is no big build up, I feel, which makes the twists come as an even bigger surprise.
Overall, I absolutely loved this book and can’t recommend it enough. I have already laid my hands on Nugent’s Lying in Wait and hope to be back with another glowing review soon.