I have never read a Janelle Brown book before but I am always eager to try a new author; so, when #cjsreads chose Watch Me Disappear for one of our July titles, I was pumped.
The book opens just about a year after Olive’s mother, Billie, has gone missing during a hiking trip. Now presumed dead, Olive’s father, Jonathan, is in a legal battle in order to declare Billie dead and Olive is trying to get her life back in order. However, Olive begins to see her mother. First thinking it is a hallucination and then wondering if it is a sign, Olive shares her experiences with her father and they both, in their own way, begin to dig into Billie’s life. While looking for the truth, secrets come to light, leaving both reeling.
My first thought once I finished reading was that this book was not marketed correctly; I didn’t find this one fit into the mystery/thriller genre. I would have deemed it contemporary fiction. Going in, I was expecting a fast paced, psychological type thriller and instead, I found this to be more of a slower read. Even with this, I did feel like it was actually paced quite well. Brown is able to string her reader along and keep them captivated. I found myself completely engrossed with the actual plot.
Narrated through alternating perspectives by Jonathan and Olive, Brown weaves a tale of deception and grief. I was captivated throughout the chapters; especially interested in the chapters highlighting Jonathan’s novel (he is writing a memoir about the time spent with his wife) and his struggle for answers.
The book has a very strong, sort of metaphysical aspect that I thought was really interesting. Throughout, it remains very unclear whether or not Olive is truly experiencing something more parapsychological or if she is truly working through the grieving process. I really like the ambiguity of this fact and it propelled me to continue reading.
My one real issue with the text was the characters themselves. I didn’t feel particularly attached to anyone. It could have gone either way for me; Billie could have been alive, she could have been dead. It really made no difference to me. I wish the author had spent more time developing the character relationships so I could have been more invested.
Another bone I have to pick with this book regards the ending. I was SO MAD when I read the final pages. As soon as I finished I sent a caps locked rage filled e-mail off to everyone I knew had read the book. I was RILED up.
Regardless of my general feelings about the end, I felt like this was a stellar read. I think that readers who enjoy a family drama or a piece of contemporary fiction will devour this one. However, if you are looking for a fast paced thrill ride, you would be disappointed. I gave this one a 3.5/5 stars.
Thanks to the author and the publisher for a copy of this book; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review.
Keep reading to see what Chandra and Jessica had to say about Watch Me Disappear!