Book Review: The Daughter by Jane Shemilt

The Daughter: A Novel

Format: Paperback

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Published: March 3, 2015

Pages: 352 pages

Genre: Mystery & Thriller

 

Synopsis:

“Jenny is a successful family doctor, the mother of three great teenagers, married to a celebrated neurosurgeon.

But when her youngest child, fifteen-year-old Naomi, doesn’t come home after her school play, Jenny’s seemingly ideal life begins to crumble. The authorities launch a nationwide search with no success. Naomi has vanished, and her family is broken.

As the months pass, the worst-case scenarios—kidnapping, murder—seem less plausible. The trail has gone cold. Yet, for a desperate Jenny, the search has barely begun. More than a year after her daughter’s disappearance, she’s still digging for answers—and what she finds disturbs her. Everyone she’s trusted, everyone she thought she knew, has been keeping secrets, especially Naomi. Piecing together the traces her daughter left behind, Jenny discovers a very different Naomi from the girl she thought she’d raised.

Jenny knows she’ll never be able to find Naomi unless she uncovers the whole truth about her daughter—a twisting, painful journey into the past that will lead to an almost unthinkable revelation. . . .”

I am starting to see a trend with some mystery books lately, following the Gone Girl route. First, someone disappears or is presumably murdered. And you read how the main characters dig for answers, find out more about their love ones than they realize, which leads to a shocking revelation that rocks their world. Yes, this formula has worked for some novels. This is not one of them.

This plot had a lot of promise. When I saw it advertised and read the summary on the back cover, I was really forward to reading this book. I don’t know whether it was the writing style or the plot structure but I had a difficult time really getting into this book. With the plot structure, I don’t think it entirely necessary to keep going back and forth between the past and present narrative. Actually I was confused by it in the beginning. But by the time I got a handle on it, I found it a very pointless. Also, most of the time past narrative was more interesting than the present narrative, which was odd since I felt that the present narrative was vital to the rest of the novel.

Second, character development. I am unsure if this was done on purpose but I lacked any sympathy for Jenny. Unlike the gut-wrenching pain I could feel for Kate in Reconstructing Amelia, I really lacked any type of emotion for Jenny. I portrayed her as snobbish and condescending, especially towards her family.She showed grief, understandably, but I had hard time feeling sorry for her due to her personality. I’m not saying her husband and children are saints. Ted has a narcissistic, prideful personality and her children were brats, particularly Naomi. But Jenny’s personality really didn’t give me the personal connection I always look for. If you can’t read and her personality lacked any empathy.How am I, the reader, suppose to sympathize with a character when the mentioned character lacks any emotion for the people around her?

Third, the ending. With any books, especially a mystery, you expect all lose threads to be tied together. Again, a lacking feature in this novel. The solving of this “disappearance” wasn’t really believable to me. Here you are, awaiting for this big reveal and after the revelation, it leaves you feeling incomplete. You are left with so many unanswered questions and left unsatisfied with how everything turned out. This may have something to do with the author rushing the ending. She spent most of her time giving too much descriptive details on unnecessary scenes. But when it was time to get down to the important stuff, the main focus of her novel, it felt she just fell down on her knees, gave up, and rushed writing some kind ending just to complete the book.

This is not a mystery. This definitely is not a thriller. I was not at the end of my chair, in suspense at what will happen next. I was bored and had a difficult time trying to finish it. If you are looking for a quick fiction read, you might enjoy this. However, if you are looking for a suspenseful mystery (as some of the taglines on the book claim), your best is to pass over this one.

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.

 

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