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.The Truth by Jeffry W. Johnston
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on February 2, 2016
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Lie, torture, kill—there's nothing Chris and Derek wouldn't do for their younger brothers…
When Chris wakes up tied to a chair in a dark basement, he knows that he's trapped—and why. He shot and killed Derek's little brother. He had his reasons, but no matter how far Derek goes to uncover the truth about that night, Chris's story won't change. It can't. There is far too much at stake…
Derek is desperate to prove his brother didn't deserve to die. And if kidnapping his brother's killer is the only way to the truth, than he'll go to extremes. But Chris's truth is far more dangerous than Derek could have imagined, and knowing could cost both their lives…
Agh, this book. I read The Truth by Jeffry W. Johnston back in December and have put off on my review, hoping that maybe some positive feelings would form for the book and the story and the everything…but it hasn’t I didn’t like this book, really at all. So let’s talk about why.
First off, let me just say that the plot sounded promising. And that’s why I requested it on Netgalley. I’ve been into the Criminal Minds-y, let’s get into the mind of the psychopath, type of things lately…and the summary of this one seemed to be right up that alley. But it just didn’t do that for me. We didn’t get into the mind of anyone, really, because every character was so underdeveloped that I felt no empathy for anyone. And with the underdevelopment also made this story extremely unrealistic.
And, of course, I’ll show you what led me to these conclusions.
First, there were almost no thoughts, just simplistic dialogue and small actions.
I’m not even exaggerating. I think the best way for you to understand this is to see an example for yourself, so here we go:
“Derek tries again. ‘I tied you up because I need you to listen,’ he says. ‘Focus. Thank you can do that?’
‘Please…wh…what do you want from me?’
‘The truth,’ he says. ‘That’s all.’
I think the biggest thing that was lacking from conversations like this was facial expressions. I love facial expressions because they can be so implicitly telling. We get a sense of how a character is feeling without them thinking, “Oh my gosh, I’m so scared.” You know what I mean? And in this story, we didn’t even really get the thoughts either. The majority of the story was just dialogue and then small movements. That’s. All. There. Was.
Second, I didn’t believe the relationships.
This book is all about relationships. You can see in the first sentence of the summary: “Lie, torture, kill—there’s nothing Chris and Derek wouldn’t do for their younger brothers…” But I didn’t believe the love there. It all seemed forced to me. Not only with the brothers, but also with the other relationships presented.
Basically the entire story is Derek questioning Chris in a dark room, so the only time we see Chris’s interactions with others is through his memories and what he tells Derek. And there’s a lot about this girl: Rita. Without giving anything away (because it doesn’t, I promise), Derek and Rita all of a sudden (and I mean, all of a sudden) just start to like each other. And this relationship was so utterly incomprehensible to me. It didn’t make any sense. Like I said with the brothers, it felt forced. Unreal.
Third, Chris had no voice…in a book that was practically him talking the entire time.
Maybe this is why the relationships seemed so forced to me…because Chris had no personality. There’s a moment when Rita flirtatiously puts her hand on Chris’s and tells him that he’s funny. And I literally wrote a note on my e-reader, asking myself how he was funny. Were there jokes that I was missing, maybe a drier sense of humor that I hadn’t noticed? And then I realized, no, I really don’t think that there was.
And when he’s speaking…just read this example:
“Mom has made a good breakfast. Pancakes, Devon’s favorite. He’s always had a healthy appetite, and today he eats his usual four, a good sign. I eat my usual one.”
He sounds like a robot, right? There’s no emotion in his sentences. Granted, what he’s talking about isn’t a very emotional thing, but we should be able to hear a character’s voice no matter what he’s saying. Bah.
And, finally, there was no tension, no suspense, in this supposed “thriller” novel.
Picking the genre for this was kind of difficult…because I knew that this book is supposed to be a thriller/mystery/suspense type of story. But it never came across that way to me as the reader. Like the summary says, Chris shot and killed Derek’s younger brother when he found him in their kitchen in the middle of the night. And Derek wants to know the truth about what happened. Was it self-defense or not?
And if you are a person driven to the point of kidnapping and assaulting someone, solely to know the truth, then you are going to be practically psychotic, right? And there are elements of that. When they first talk, Derek tells Chris that he needs to tell him the truth or he’s going to cut off a finger every time he lies with a pair of garden shears. He then dramatically, yet almost calmly, puts Chris’s hand between the blades. And that’s how they talk the whole time: with his hand just chilling there. But it never goes further.
Derek and Chris both speak too calmly. There are random outbursts of yelling, which seem out of place compared to the majority of the novel. Like everything else about this novel, it just didn’t seem realistic to me. I would ask myself, “Is this how it would really be in this situation?” And my answer would always be:
So, I didn’t like it. It felt forced and unrealistic and boring…three things that a “thriller” novel should never, ever, ever be. And you know what? That’s just “The Truth” of the matter for me. Now, please, no one cut off my finger with a pair of garden shears.