I Know Who You Are: Alice Feeney
Genre: Psychological thriller
Hogwarts House Recommendation: Ravenclaw
Aimee likes acting because it gives her a break from being herself. The problem is, who is she?
Somebody knows. They know who Aimee is and what her secret is.
When her husband disappears, Aimee wonders if she’s going nuts or if someone is out to get her. When hints of her troubled childhood start to reappear, she knows it’s time to find out who else has something to hide, even if it’s herself.
I Know Who You Are is a traditional thriller that alternates between the past and the present, as many do. There are incompetent (and sometimes cruel) cops, an unreliable narrator, and flashbacks. In this case the chapters alternate between Aimee’s current life as an actress and her childhood when terrible things happened. Still, I was having trouble deciding whether or not I wanted to root for this character. I felt sorry for her in childhood, and then of course when everything was going wrong for her in the present, but then again she wasn’t acting innocent. She wouldn’t cooperate with the police and kept a lot of secrets. At times. I just wanted to scream at her. Yes, she technically did do something bad in the past, which we try to figure out as the book goes along, but it wasn’t really her fault either…so why not cooperate?
Actually, though, I found myself drawn more to the story of Aimee’s childhood. The present day story is fine, but it can be slow (and oddly gets even slower closer to the end with considerable filler romantic scenes). Feeney does a good job of writing through a child’s eyes. It wasn’t a traditional kidnapping scenario, but rather, a replacement for another. Aimee’s parents often claimed to love her and there were some happy moments as well as disturbing ones. She was taught not to trust the police, which may explain her behavior in the present. As she navigates adulthood, these experiences will come back to influence her thoughts and actions. It’s a good psychological look at how childhood experiences shape us later.
In the present, while Aimee tries to figure out who is setting her up, Feeney gives us plenty of suspects to choose from. There is her co-star Jack and rival Alicia and a storyline between them as they try to cope with jealousy against one other. Yes, Jack is indeed is the fourth character I’ve read this year who speaks random French. This is a quirk that I would like to see disappear and be replaced with actual character traits. There is also her husband who seems to have turned on her. I also admired the use of transitions in between chapters; how a reference to one thing leads to a scene in the next chapter. They give the novel a cinematic feel, like you’re watching things play out. I didn’t feel like the book needed the unreliable narrator trope, though. Aimee drinks and some believe that she has a type of amnesia, which isn’t really touched on and seems to be included because it’s trendy. Otherwise, the Hitchcockian feel turns this novel of tropes into something a little more interesting.
Where this novel suffers throughout is the use of purple-y prose and semi-philosophical statements on human nature, especially secret keeping. Aimee uses a lot of “we all” statements to the point of being repetitive. In chapters that are in third-person (read: not by Aimee), Feeney continues using these statements making me wonder why all the characters are thinking this way. And who’s the “we?” Is she speaking about people in general? Because I’m not sure that “we all” behave in the sense that she says we all do. She also makes a lot of allusions to acting like someone else that get a little repetitive. Sometimes it’s interesting when authors drop deep statements, but the ones Aimee brings about real life acting vs. acting on the stage are a bit predictable.
And then there’s the ending. Endings tend to be the hardest part to get right in these thrillers these days. This novel did have a unique twist that is tricky to guess that I’m not even sure I got until after I finished. And the more I think of it, the more unique and interesting of a twist I think it is…except the character really doesn’t have any motivation to do that stuff, which is where it was weak for me. But I was left with several other questions that made no sense to me (spoilers in below paragraph):
First off, why in the world would her brother be mad enough to pull off what he does over a very little something that happened years ago? Where was Maggie in all this? How well did the two actually know each other? Speaking of Maggie, why exactly did she dispose of her daughter? For that matter, how–or when– on earth would she have placed a tracking app on Aimee’s phone? Who were the people that were after that family always robbing them? I would have liked to know more about this background stuff because this part of the story stood out to me the most. SPOILER END
It gets worse. We get an epilogue–which I normally love so we can see how everything has ended up. But a part of this epilogue leaves a very bad, very offensive taste in my mouth. Not on the part of the character (okay, maybe) but on the part of the author. Here’s the deal (another spoiler below):
Aimee is having a child that is presumed to be her brother’s, and she’s absolutely delighted over it. Not only is this terrible to begin with, but considering the terror she just went through, it’s extra nonsensical. Someone tell Feeney that having a baby doesn’t automatically mean happily ever after especially given these circumstances! I would hate to see her thoughts on babies conceived through rape from a stranger if this is her attitude toward incest. SPOILER END
In general I was okay with it, but those parts alone made the whole thing pretty disturbing.
I feel like although the premise is good, I Know Who You Are does try a little too hard in parts. The characters’ behavior can be extreme and some plot points needed to be thought through a bit more. I also question Feeney’s morals when it comes to the ending, and I’ll probably have to read it a second time because either I missed things or there were plot holes; I’m not sure which. However, the good stuff was good and it was hard to put down at its most exciting.
SONG OF THE NOVEL: Paparazzi