Short Take: VERY enjoyable, if you don’t think too hard about it.
*Note: I received a free advance copy of this book for review.*
I LOVE road trips. Especially when someone else is driving, and I can enjoy some delicious books and thrilling unhealthy snacks while the wind is in my hair and the radio is playing. In theory, it’s fantastic. In practice, however, there are less-than-fun circumstances, like GPS sending you the wrong way, sitting for seven hours in traffic, arguments over the radio station, or all that fantastic junk food deciding that it’s not your friend after all.
Or, if you’re a strapping young lad named Finn on a trip with his girlfriend Layla, you could stop at a rest area to use the bathroom, and return to the car to find Layla has disappeared, which would definitely put a damper on the festivities.
Bring Me Back begins with Layla’s disappearance, then jumps ahead ten years. No trace of Layla has been found, and Finn has since become engaged to Layla’s sister Ellen (yes, it’s weird & creepy). With his life finally starting to come together after losing Layla, Finn is thrown back into the nightmare when someone begins sending him and Ellen messages and packages with meanings that only Layla would have known about.
So is Layla still alive? Or has whoever killed her and gotten away with it for ten years decided to play a sadistic game with Finn and Ellen?
I’ve seen similar setups in other books, but I have to say that I did not see the final twist coming. I was caught completely off guard, and that is generally a good thing, but the final reveal was so incredibly implausible that I just couldn’t buy in to it. It’s something that has been done a few times in other books & movies, and much more effectively, I think. And it only works if you assume that one of the main characters is a complete and total moron, more than a little blind and deaf, and self-centered to the point of caricature.
Ok, I’ll concede that last one. Finn was a class-A d-bag, with anger issues and pretty much zero redeeming qualities. And not in the fun, twisted, sociopathic kind of way, either, he’s just the guy that nobody likes having around.
If you’re willing to overlook an unlikable narrator though, and to just go along with the craziness, Bring Me Back is actually pretty fun. The pacing is spot-on, and the writing is engaging enough that I devoured this one like it was a gas station burrito and I was cruising down I-79 with the 80’s station playing.
The Nerd’s Rating: FOUR HAPPY NEURONS (and some Clapton. LAAAAYYYYLLLAAAA!!! has been stuck in my head for days.)