Book Review: Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent

August 22, 2017 Advanced Readers Copy, Book Reviews 0

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Unraveling Oliver by Liz NugentUnraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent
Published by Gallery/Scout Press on August 22nd 2017
Genres: Psychological, Thriller
Pages: 272
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
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“I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.”
So begins Liz Nugent’s astonishing debut novel—a chilling, elegantly crafted, and psychologically astute exploration of the nature of evil.
Oliver Ryan, handsome, charismatic, and successful, has long been married to his devoted wife, Alice. Together they write and illustrate award-winning children’s books; their life together one of enviable privilege and ease—until, one evening after a delightful dinner, Oliver delivers a blow to Alice that renders her unconscious, and subsequently beats her into a coma.
In the aftermath of such an unthinkable event, as Alice hovers between life and death, the couple’s friends, neighbors, and acquaintances try to understand what could have driven Oliver to commit such a horrific act. As his story unfolds, layers are peeled away to reveal a life of shame, envy, deception, and masterful manipulation.

 

“I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.”

When reading this I wasn’t sure what to expect. More reaction from her? More feeling from himself? That is what this book is all about. Getting to what happened to Oliver and how he, and everyone around him feels about it.

I was shocked by Oliver’s point of view. The first chapter is his and I read some of it to my husband because I just HAD to share it with someone right then! I was not sure how I was going to feel about the rest of the book, but the first chapter was agonizingly tragic and stunning.

The second chapter was not quite as special. The reader is introduced to other characters and after Oliver’s eloquent, heinous voice, it was even more of a shock but one that was needed. The soothing calm of the other points of view shows the juxtaposition of the other characters in comparison to Oliver.

There are many characters in this. Some I liked, some I did not, but all of them lead the reader down the same dark, winding road; to Oliver’s psychosis. It was not until much later in the book when all of the points of view come together to form a cohesive idea of just who Oliver really is and what he has to hide. It all at once seems so devious but also alluring. I have to admit to being completely shocked at the outcome and what led to Oliver hitting his wife. I never imagined what caused all of this but it was so well woven into the story that I can’t think of any reader imagining what actually happens.

I enjoyed reading this. I think others that enjoy psychological thrillers will also enjoy this #Whydoneit as opposed to who did the crime. I found that I absolutely loved this. It grew a bit humdrum in the moments when characters were nearly repeating what other characters had already explained, but fortunately this is few and far between and again, adds to the full puzzle.

There are so many clues from so many characters. I want to go back and read this and see if I can pick up all of the clues. There are a few that explain Oliver’s reasoning but now that I understand, I am curious if I can find even more.

In short: This was a fantastic, dark, distinctive read. I can’t wait to read more of Liz Nugent’s work.

 

Rating Report
Plot
4.5 / 5
Character Development
4.5 / 5
Writing Style
5 / 5
Personal enjoyment
5 / 5
Cover
5 / 5
Overall: 4.8 / 5

 

 

Liz Nugent worked as a stage manager in theaters in Ireland and toured internationally before writing extensively for radio and television drama.
Unravelling Oliver and Lying in Wait have both been number 1 bestselling and award-winning novels.

Skin Deep will be published in March 2018.

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