You Were Made for This
By Michelle Sacks
‘A chilling, gut-wrenching thriller.’ Helen Fields
A bold, sharp, gripping debut about a couple whose perfect life in the Swedish countryside is not what it seems…
Oh my goodness, what a addictive book! A dark and disturbing domestic thriller and a real page turner, even though I didn't particularly like any of the flawed characters. Atmospheric and descriptive, the book read like a screenplay for a movie I would definitely go and see.
The Macclesfield Library Reading Group received copies of this book from The reading Agency in exchange for honest reviews. The book got mixed reactions - everyone seemed to enjoy the writing style and the fact it was a quick read but everyone hated all of the characters and the story-line! Here are our thoughts:
1. ‘This was an interesting book to read, in which it was difficult to like any of the characters; they all had psychological problems. The last paragraph was particularly eerie’
2. ‘I read this book in two sittings. A real page turner! Never have I ever experienced a bigger group of toxic characters. Secrets, lies and dysfunctions set in Scandinavia. Includes a very sad murder’
3. ’An easy to read thriller set in Scandinavia but not a typical scandi novel. It is a page turning thriller despite all the characters being quite unlikable’.
4. ‘Dark, disturbing thriller. A gripping read. Brilliant scandi drama!’
5. ‘Far from perfect house, family and life – includes many imperfect people’
6. ‘A book of human nature not at its best - probably the most telling statement is on page 304 ‘the truth is, you don’t always set out to do something’.’
7. ‘Was an uncomfortable read but well-paced and so many interesting themes promoting really good discussion. Liked the short snappy paragraphs- very concise.’
8.’An enjoyable gripping read. Easy to read with lots of twists and turns. Very interesting characters, different from usual novels. A great first novel!’
9. ‘A very disconcerting read, but a page turner. Full of tension, it is a strange tale with lots of themes. Enjoyed reading it!’
10. ‘A disturbing read that explores issues of motherhood, friendship and power’
11.’Excellent read. Complex and layered and written in a style that doesn’t manipulate the reader. A chilling tale’
12. ‘An uncomfortable read but I thought it a really good read. A great page turner!’
We all agreed that this was an easy read and most of us were interested and wanted to know how the story developed. Although none of the characters were considered likeable, it was intriguing to see their fairy tale lives unravel to show the darkness underneath for all of them. The ending was a surprise for most of us and we found the very last paragraph creepy and a little distasteful. Some of us loved the whole story but others not so much so overall we gave it 6 out of 10
A perfect couple living a perfect life with a perfect child. Or so Merry and Sam would like us to believe. This is the premise of this book but the cracks start to be exposed when Frank, a childhood friend of Merry’s arrives for a long visit. The two of them have a strange dynamic which, in itself, is not very healthy but is compounded by the fact that Merry is desperate to prove to Frank that her life is a huge success. The story is told from multiple points of view, so we are privy to the thought processes of each of the three main characters as the disturbing reality is revealed. As well as being a psychological thriller, it is also a courageous attempt to explore the secrets and the pretence that contribute to the outward persona of all of our lives.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. It was easy to read and the language flowed well. It is a great premise for a story and the result largely turns out very well. It is quite gripping, which is a major achievement on the part of the author since, looking back on it, nothing much actually happens for the vast majority of the narrative. It is primarily voyeurism, watching the life of a fairly boring couple living a bit of a false existence. It is a credit to the author that she successfully turns this into a compelling novel. There are dark undertones throughout and it is not always a comfortable read but it just works, most of the time.
There were a few aspects of the book that I thought were less successful. It was too long-winded in parts and quite repetitive. None of the three main characters were particularly likeable and I personally found trouble relating to them. As there are virtually no peripheral characters, the reader has to live with these three for a very long time and more empathy would have made that journey more enjoyable. The Multiple Point of View gadget seems to be very popular at the moment and, whilst I do understand that it gives the author the opportunity to explore the inner workings of the characters, I am not sure I am wholly convinced by it. It can work if done very well but it can also be confusing for the reader. I did find that this book often left me having to go back to look at the chapter heading to see who was writing the current “episode”. My final comment is that the author had an irritating habit of hinting at things that had happened in the past, but never really filling in the gaps satisfactorily. I think this was supposed to create an atmosphere of tension and mystery, but instead I just found it annoying.
I actually really enjoyed this book, the first I have read by this author. It wasn’t perfect, but it was very good. Apparently she has written others and I will look out for them as well as for any that she writes in the future.