Let’s Talk About Books…
By Emma Evans and Eve Volungeviciute
Collaboration articles are not new within the Here Comes Everyone team, but this time we thought it would be fun to sit down and have a discussion of sorts about – you guessed it, books – brought to you by Emma and Eve. Let’s get into it!
Eve: It’s no secret to anyone who has ever spoken to me about books that thrillers are my go-to genre. There’s something about a mystery that, more often than not, reveals the lowest points of someone’s character, especially if it’s set somewhere secluded for when the stakes go high, just makes it an unforgettable reading experience for me. It’s always nice to meet people with similar tastes so I thought, why not have a collaboration and discuss our love for the genre?
Emma: Despite a love of a certain Mr Darcy in Bridget Jones, for as long as I stand in a book shop long enough to not get distracted by the oh so pretty covers (it’s a problem, I wish I was working on it), I can usually be found staring up at the crime fiction or specifically gravitating towards the domestic noir of the crime section. Give me a family or a group of friends destroyed by some secret and I’m sold. When Eve and I discussed books we’d both read, I can confirm thrillers are her go-to! We’ve selected three we’ve both read to discuss and one recommendation to the other, and everyone reading!
Here are some of the novels both of us had read:
The Guest List
Eve: As far as thrillers go, this is pretty standard – a group of people who are basically forced to stay together in an isolated location. The mystery itself was interesting but I do have to say it reached the point where there were just too many coincidences for my liking.
Emma: Shout out to Foley’s short chapters – the mini cliff-hangers kept me guessing and reading throughout! However, this being the second Lucy Foley novel I had read within a few months, I was worried it would feel too much of the ‘same’ since the premises seemed similar, and that my perception of the book would be tainted by this.
Eve: I wasn’t particularly a fan as they ranged from pitiful to outright unlikeable, but I suppose it’s a staple for these sorts of books. Why do I keep reading them, one might ask? Well, I kind of answered that earlier – people are complex beings and sometimes they don’t have to be likeable to make for a decent story. Besides, dissecting complicated dynamics is half the fun!
Emma: It focuses on a group of people known to one another – friends attending a wedding. The dynamics were interesting, particularly with the outside influences of a remote island, and even drinks flowing, since they were at a party.
Eve: I thought it was top notch and really provided the atmosphere needed. I am also a sucker for seaside settings with a hint of cold as it really helps with the mental image.
Emma: The setting was just the right amount of creepy for me and added to the tension brilliantly. The remoteness of the island where this wedding took place offered a suffocated feeling – there was no escape from the drama that unfolds for the characters – and then the reader.
Eve: I’d say 3 out of 5 stars for me sums it up.
Emma: This captivated me. I’d give this one 4 out of 5 stars – I really enjoyed it and I needn’t have worried that it would be too similar to ‘The Hunting Party’.
The Hunting Party
Eve: As with ‘The Guest List’, the story was pretty straightforward – a bunch of friends who don’t actually like each other go to celebrate New Year’s together and, naturally, nothing goes as planned. The plot twist, while predictable if you know the tropes of the genre, was quite well done with regards to the mystery element.
Emma: My first encounter with Lucy Foley and ‘The Hunting Party’ came in lockdown and I was immediately hooked. A group of mates and a load of friendship-destroying secrets? SOLD! I couldn’t figure out the final plot twist so, albeit in hindsight it was predictable for the genre, as Eve has said, it was well executed. From page one, I had a sense of dread and attempted to guess who’d done what…and I never did get it right.
Eve: For me, the characters again ranged from ‘eh’ to atrocious. In the end, I surprisingly felt sympathy for the ‘bitch’ of the group as she was described as it genuinely felt like everyone ganged up on her. I will say that while they weren’t super likeable, the characters in this book were a bit more captivating than ‘The Guest List’, at least for me.
Emma: They weren’t all likeable at various points, Foley nails creating these characters that readers, like myself, love to hate. Watching the relationships unfold (and then get destroyed) was captivating.
Eve: Again, remote setting provides the tension factor. Gotta love the mountains.
Emma: I was intrigued by the remote setting and the group of friends on their annual trip, though I quickly realised it was more out of tradition than wanting to be there – though the tradition of this trip worked in favour for some.
Eve: I’d say 3.75 stars (the many points of view and obvious red herrings annoyed me a bit on top of the characters).
Emma: 4 stars for me! Not being able to put it down, or guess who’d done what, meant I really loved this.
The Girl on the Train
Eve: Personally, I wasn’t a massive fan of the writing style. The mystery itself was not too bad, if a bit predictable towards the end. One does have to love the poetic justice that’s served, people who read it will know what I mean.
Emma: ‘The Girl on the Train’ was the first ‘grown up’ book I read, and I remember excitedly telling my family, who had read it before me, which bit I was at and that I couldn’t believe some of the twists.
Eve: It was quite hard to read due to the protagonist being such a mess and seeing the same patterns repeat themselves with her ex’s new wife just makes one think – how many lives are being destroyed because of gaslighting jerks? While not always likeable, Rachel was definitely interesting.
Emma: I loved the mirror imagery, which eventually becomes apparent, between the main character and her husband and her husband and his new wife. I enjoyed questioning as a reader whether the main character’s account of events was accurate, given she seemed a rather unreliable narrator.
Eve: The train set-up was interesting and the suburban settings gave off a claustrophobic vibe because, despite the supposed ‘perfectness’, every single household in the novel had some sort of issues and the atmosphere really added to it.
Emma: Given my love of domestic noir, I loved the setting. I also loved the fact that the train itself was cleverly utilised as well as the homes of the main characters. Their homes, in particular, also seemed to be in dichotomy (i.e. lovely) to the goings-on behind their closed doors and that worked really well.
Eve: 3.5, purely as I have read other similar stories which left a bit of a stronger impression
Emma: 5 stars for me – loved it!
Recommend one book to each other…
The Night She Disappeared – Lisa Jewell
A recent read for me, but one I just can’t stop thinking about so it was a no-brainer of a recommendation! I first read Lisa Jewell during the summer last year and devoured the chosen book, so I was thrilled to see this new read hit the shelves. The chapters are short and suspenseful but, as ever, I was hooked at the intriguing blurb when I brought a copy for my friend so a few weeks later I grabbed a copy for myself. Told across three timelines, and airing on just the right side of creepy for me with the setting of the woods, I found the character of Kim particularly engaging in her determination to find out what had happened to her daughter, Tallulah, and her boyfriend, Zach while she also took care of their baby Noah. While I could work out a couple of the twists just before I got to them, there were some I really didn’t see coming – which resulted in cooking dinner while also trying to read and one final night of reading late into the night because I couldn’t sleep until I knew how this ended.
One By One – Ruth Ware
Now, this one is not perfect as the characters do steer into stereotypical territory. However, the setting of a ski chalet during an avalanche had me instantly hooked. Ruth Ware shines when making the world a character on its own and that’s where most of the creepiness of her work comes from. The psychological version of cat and mouse in the last third of the book was really well done (and that’s all I can say without spoiling the whole plot) and was an interesting choice after revealing the mystery element of the story. All in all, a solid piece with only minor pacing issues that could’ve only really benefited from developing side characters a tad more.