⇒RELEASE DAY REVIEW: Family ties get really messy in this psych thriller/mystery that will leave you guessing until the very last chapter. ⇐
**Many thanks to NetGalley, Grand Central Publishing, and the author for the opportunity to read a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
by Sarah Zettel
(3.4 stars – Goodreads rating)
Publish Date: August 28, 2018, by Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Psychological Thriller / Mystery
Format: Kindle Edition
Pages: 380 pages (Hardcover)
She had to be a good girl. Good girls didn’t hate anybody. Not their sisters or their mothers. And most especially not their fathers.
Trying to summarize this book sans spoilers is very difficult, so I’ll just include the official blurb:
Two sisters. One murder plan.
Geraldine Monroe is the bad sister. Reckless and troubled, she ran away shortly after the mysterious death of their mother twenty years ago.
Marie, on the other hand, has always been the good sister. She is the obedient daughter and a loving mother to her son.
Bound by blood and a need to right the past, Geraldine and Marie set a deadly plan in motion. When old secrets and new fears clash, everyone is pushed to the breaking point . . . and the sisters will learn that they can’t trust anyone, not even each other.
It’s worth noting how many times it turns out that the good sister is not as helpless as she looks. Or as good.
The story includes:
- Multiple timelines
- Two POVs (Marie & Geraldine, sisters)
- Unreliable narrators (yes, both of them)
- Unlikable characters – How many? Mostly all of them. Not kidding
- Pervasive mysteries (yes, more than one) throughout that only become clear(ish) at the end
- Numerous triggers for some including emotional abuse, drug abuse, rape, alcoholism
Blood’s thicker, isn’t it? Even when it’s spilled on the stairs and on the snow.
This book did not click all my boxes. As a fan of thrillers / mysteries, I usually am all for the sociopathic character who wreaks havoc throughout a town or family. And The Other Sister had that; however, there is also all kinds of other “crazy” going on in this story.
There are no likable characters. None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. The father is controlling and terrible in all ways. The men around him are subservient tattletales. And the women around him – including our MCs – are weak and emotionally and/or mentally unhinged. And everyone – EVERYONE – lies, even to themselves! Who is there to cheer for?
I didn’t relate to anyone in this book. The “victims” only became so due to their own acquiescence. Even Geraldine, who is characterized as “The Rebel”, only rebels in fits and starts and never enough to purposefully effect true change – even though we are led to believe that that is the sisters’ plan.
The MCs’ parents are both despicable in their own ways, and though I do feel pity for some of the other family members and friends for getting caught up in this sick, twisted web, pity does not equal likability.
I cannot, no matter how hard I’ve tried, make Outside understand what it is to be us.
Also, I felt like I was never invited into the story. I was an outsider the whole time – not knowing any of the secrets, truths, or motives until the very end. And even then I wasn’t sure of the “truth” I had been told. Feeling separated from both the characters and the story is not a winning combination. I toyed with a two-star rating, but I don’t want to discourage others who don’t mind stories that develop that way.
So… a reluctant 3 stars for a book that I really wanted to like much more than that rating reflects.
»»Listen to an excerpt (courtesy of SoundCloud): Click Here
About the Author
Sarah Zettel is the critically acclaimed author of more than twenty novels, spanning the full range of genre fiction. Her debut novel, Reclamation, won the Locus Award for Best First Novel. She has written eighteen novels and multiple short stories over the past seventeen years in addition to practicing tai chi, learning to fiddle, marrying a rocket scientist and raising a rapidly growing son.
(Bio adapted from Goodreads)