The Passenger by Lisa Lutz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.
"In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it. I didn’t have anything to do with Frank’s death. I don’t have an alibi, so you’ll have to take my word for it...
Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time.
She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy―and dangerous―alliance is born.
It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation, to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret…can she outrun her past?"
This is such a hard book to judge. I've come out of it just thinking about it. I imagine this novel is one that's going to stay with me and be on my mind for a while, but I can't put my finger on why or what it is about it. On one half, I really enjoyed this novel. It didn't excite me or thrill me, but I did enjoy it. On the other, I just didn't find myself engaging with this novel and I don't know why.
It's nothing to do with the writing. The book is written well and Lutz has a great grasp on writing efficiently. I wouldn't say it was lyrical or beautiful writing, but every sentence portrayed something that was necessary and there was no sense of filler topics. There were no grammatical or spelling errors that I could see to put me off reading. The scenes were described well and there's a beautiful moment describing the colours of autumn which were wonderfully described. Places and situations are always explained and described perfectly. So it definitely wasn't the writing.
Characters were developed wonderfully. The main character, whose real name I won't mention as I don't want any part of spoiling the story, is described well and you really do feel for her as you can see her slowly start to give everything up. You feel her as her resolve weakens and she becomes more empty inside. Side characters, such as Blue, were likeable and mysterious and you never really know where you stood with them so that was interesting. I felt for Blue deeply. There were one or two characters that weren't developed as well as I'd have liked them to be, for example a child called Andrew, but as he was a side character and not a main I could mostly overlook that.
Plot wise, I'd say this was a sort of plateau book. It moves along on a plateau like ____________ and then suddenly BOOM THINGS HAPPEN! _____________------------_________ And so it moves like this throughout the book, with things levelling and remaining calm and then SUDDENLY SOMETHING BIG HAPPENS. Then it calms down etc. I'd say this was a book more about a personal journey than a major plot line, and that's okay. I did enjoy the plot and really did want to find out what happened next. I wanted to see how the journey ended.
So... Why three stars? Why could I not GET INTO this book? Why did it just fall flat for me, when all of the elements were there?... I honestly don't know. Something was just stopping me getting fully engaged, and I'm not sure if this was because of my mood while reading or the book itself or what. But I'd still recommend this book very highly and say it is a VERY strong novel.
3/5 stars, but very strong indeed.
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