Today is book review day, and I’ll be discussing Follow You Home by Mark Edwards, a psychological thriller.
Book Description (I took Jeri’s advice and wrote my own)
This book is about Daniel and Laura, two Brits traveling through Europe before settling down and planting roots for their future. During their journey, they come across another couple as well as unexpected and horror situations that cut their travels short.
Back home, Daniel and Laura refuse to discuss the ordeal and struggle with it along with their relationship. Soon they find their secrets have caught up to them, and the nightmare begins.
Book Cover: 5/5 Stars
I like the cover. The person walking in a forest with fog hovering around adds to the thriller genre. Covers that have a blueish haze, make me feel as if I should prepare for a haunting read, one that will keep me up at night.
Book Idea: 3.5/5 Stars
The premise of the book is interesting. Two people’s lives disrupted when exploring Europe for the last time before starting a family. They come across sinister people and situations that infect their plans. I like fiction reading about how disturbing circumstances seep into people’s lives, and as the reader, watch the characters unravel.
Plot: 2.5/5 Stars
Much of the plot just didn’t jive with me. It felt as if Edwards wasn’t quite sure where to take his book and guessed along the way. At times, it seemed unnatural and unconvincing. As I got into the book, I started getting bored.
The story was repetitious, and a big problem I had with the plot was the insignificance throughout. There were many places in the book where I scratched my head, wondering the significance of the situation. Below is a small sample that doesn’t add any value to the story. This is early in the story where Daniel is watching a couple, Alina and Ion, who just made it in time to catch the train.
“Although we had befriended a number of couples on our trip around Europe in a transient way, exchanging email addresses and Twitter usernames, I preferred to observe someone first, make sure they weren’t crazy before engaging in conversation.”
I didn’t understand why Edwards felt the need to tell the reader why he was scoping out this couple. Most people observe others before meeting them, so all this did was make me 1) question the relevance, and 2) note that this doesn’t move the story along.
This line is regarding the couple, Alina and Ion. They’re planning how to smuggle drugs using the English couple, Daniel and Laura, and it’s much later in the book.
“I got some keys too, in case Camelia needs them, and the girl’s phone, a nice Samsung. Daniel just has a crappy scratched-up iPhone 5 with a cracked screen so I didn’t bother. Why don’t people take care of their gadgets…”
There’s absolutely no reason for this observation. It does nothing for the story and pulls me away from it. It’s a tangent. I’m pointing these out because the book is riddled with thoughts and dialogue that fracture the story.
Several parts of the book had me waiting for the relevance, yet it was never followed up. As a reader, I want everything in the book to mean something, otherwise, why mention it, especially since it’s a thriller. I’m expecting people or objects the author talks about to have something to do with the end result.
At times, I wondered if Edwards put this information in to fill pages. Or he added things to throw the reader off, and left it at that. Below is a line from the book where Daniel is talking about a man who got on the train and sat by them. Maybe I missed something, but there wasn’t any connection between this man and the plot in ongoing chapters. Plus, Laura complains several times about the man staring at her. With this description, and several references, I was expecting him to be a part of their ordeal. Again, I went back on my Kindle to find a connection, but didn’t.
“He was about forty, stocky, with cropped hair and an acne-scarred face. He had no luggage. Even though most of the seats in the carriage were empty, he sat diagonally opposite Laura and me.”
Another issue I had with the book is that the majority of it is told through Daniel. He’s the narrator, so I’m not sure how reliable he is when “telling” the reader about things. This also diminishes any relationship I could have with the characters.
Characters: 2/5 Rating
Since much of the story was told by Daniel, there was a disconnect between reader and characters. I didn’t feel anything for them—no sorrow or happiness. They were bland, and sometimes, what Daniel stated about a character didn’t always fit when it came to their actions.
Here is an excerpt of Alina helping an older man with his carry-on. Prior to this, Daniel describes Alina as standoffish and somewhat of a Goth girl. The old man is significant to the story. This excerpt is odd because the author points out the old man looked capable of carrying his bag, so it diminished the importance of this suspense trail. It’s as if he tossed us a hint, and then explained it.
“Alina, to my surprise, jumped up and slipped through the door, helping the man onto the train, carrying his case into the carriage. The old man, who looked strong and fit enough to be able to handle the suitcase himself, thanked her in his own language then headed off to a seat at the other end of the carriage.”
Then there is the problem with Daniel telling me instead of the author showing. Below is Daniel talking about how Laura has changed since they returned from their trip.
“She had also developed a new habit in the days following our return, a habit of swiping and rubbing at her eyes, like there was something in them that bothered her. There was, she explained to me… ”
Instead of telling me through Daniel, the author could have shown it by describing Laura’s behavior. It leaves the reader with little understanding of Laura. Sure, Daniel’s telling me about her actions, but if I want to get emotionally invested in the characters, I need to witness it myself.
Writing and Overall Rating: 2/5 Stars
Due to the boring plot and zero connection to the characters, I’d have to give this book two stars. I really wanted to like it. There was nothing spectacular about his writing. I never felt “on the edge of my seat”. On the contrary, I sighed too often but continued with the hopes that I missed something. That I would get pelted with an incredible end… except it didn’t happen.
The cover and description piqued my interest. There were too many moments that took me away from the story. Fighting my way through the story to the end was a bitter experience for me.
This wraps up my review.
To purchase the book, please visit Amazon for a copy.
Have you read this book or any by Mark Edwards? What are your thoughts about the review?
Reviewing and Coffee,