Sunday, August 27, 2017

Book Review: Unraveling Oliver

Title Unraveling Oliver
Author Liz Nugent
Release Date August 22, 2017

“I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.”

So begins Liz Nugent’s astonishing debut novel—a chilling, elegantly crafted, and psychologically astute exploration of the nature of evil.

Oliver Ryan, handsome, charismatic, and successful, has long been married to his devoted wife, Alice. Together they write and illustrate award-winning children’s books; their life together one of enviable privilege and ease—until, one evening after a delightful dinner, Oliver delivers a blow to Alice that renders her unconscious, and subsequently beats her into a coma.

In the aftermath of such an unthinkable event, as Alice hovers between life and death, the couple’s friends, neighbors, and acquaintances try to understand what could have driven Oliver to commit such a horrific act. As his story unfolds, layers are peeled away to reveal a life of shame, envy, deception, and masterful manipulation.
Review

I was mistaken when I thought this book would focus more on Oliver and Alice's relationship. You should take the title literally. This book is all about Oliver and what makes him tick. This isn't a bad thing, just something that I wasn't expecting really.

Unraveling Oliver is told through multiple points of view (none of which are Alice, in case you're wondering). Though there are numerous points of view, each feels distinct. They all flow together nicely and pain a vivid picture of who Oliver is.

As for the story, it was overall enjoyable. While I was able to figure out some of Oliver before it was revealed in the story, other parts were still a surprise. I'm also thoroughly impressed that the story was told without any graphic scenes of abuse. The reason for four stars instead of five was the ending. It didn't feel true to Oliver's character after everything we've found out about him.

In general, Unraveling Oliver was an interesting psychological character study. Though short, it packed a sizable punch.

Rating



* This book was received from Gallery/Scout Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

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