So if you’ve been near books or book lists in the past few months you most certainly have come across the cover for The Couple Next Door. It’s been absolutely everywhere and when I first started seeing it I thought here we go again with another Gone Girl knockoff. And seeing as I’ve managed to fall for one too many books claiming to be the next GG/Girl on the Train I decided to skip this one but about a month ago I had a change of heart and checked it out.
The basic premise is a couple’s baby is kidnapped while at a party next door and if you can get past the idea anyone would leave their six month old home alone the book is actually pretty good. For one thing I enjoyed the fact that the book had a kidnaping as the central mystery because I’m kind of over the whodunnit plots with the big twist that you manage to figure out a third of the way in. It makes the well crafted story of The Couple Next Door feel fresh.
The books greatest strength is the way the author Shari Lapena sets up all of the individual characters. There are a ton of twists in this book (seriously like 7-8) and the only way they work is because the author creates characters with backstories that make you believe they are capable of their later actions. The book follows six characters and the author does an amazing job keeping the stories related to the central plot. Each character is like a piece of the puzzle and as the story moves forward and you learn something new it’s like you are getting a new piece and the picture of what happened becomes clearer. It would have been easy to get lost in all those subplots but Shari keeps it tight where they never venture too far from the central story so the reader never gets lost.
In terms of the weakness a lot of the reviews I read mentioned people hating all of the characters and I can agree with that because with each new twist there was a new horrible secret revealed and by the end of the book everyone just kind of sucks. It’s not that they are horrible people, it’s that they consistently manage to make the worst decisions in reaction to the various situations they are put in. I also feel like some of the characters decisions push the reader to the edge of believability, like you have to really tax your imagination to think they would go as far as they do. The biggest example of this is the ending which in my opinion is the weakest part of the book. You read this whole thing and you get a sense of the characters and then at the end one of the characters does something that goes completely against the situation and you are left questioning why in the world would they do that. It seems out of place and throws off what was otherwise a great reading experience.
Overall this was a fun quick read I would definitely recommend. It’s not groundbreaking or something you’ll think about weeks after reading but it was enjoyable. As usual let me know in the comments if you’ve read The Couple Next Door and what you thought about it. Did you also hate the ending?