Book Review, Claire seeber, General Fiction, Thriller and Suspense Challenge 2010

Review: Bad Friends by Claire Seeber

When 30-year-old TV producer Maggie Warren is involved in a traumatic coach crash, she has no idea that her nightmare is only just beginning. When she wakes up in hospital she can’t remember why she and her boyfriend Alex split up, and the events of the summer previously that keep being held against her. As if that wasn’t bad enough, someone seems to have it in for her and won’t stop till she is dead. With no recollection of ‘that’ summer and the finger of suspicion pointing to everyone close by, who can Maggie trust, and who is a truly Bad Friend?

I started this book with great expectations, as the first couple of pages set the scene extremely well. It starts with a glimpse into the future and Maggie being pursued by person unknown, and then quickly goes back in time a few months to the fateful night on the coach. This was brilliant way to hook me in and make sure I kept on reading, as immediately it’s both thrilling and suspenseful.

Unfortunately, my joy only lasted a couple of chapters. As Maggie recovers from the accident and returns to work, we are introduced to her TV land lifestyle and colleagues. Now, I have no personal experience of people who work in TV, but I am sure not all of them are like the clichés found here. From the mega bitch, chat show diva, Renee, the bullying slime ball exec. Charlie and sulky, son of someone important (I didn’t care who) work experience boy, Joe. I was bored and unimpressed by these two dimensional characters, who were all completely detestable, darling!

Maggie herself was grating on my nerves here, with her neurotic whining and moaning, especially about her job. The boyfriend who she wakes up to find is no longer her boyfriend, is an alcoholic bully and I couldn’t understand her pining for him. Maggie is also a little too fond of champagne and claret and I felt like screaming ‘Put down the bottle and get a backbone for god sake!’ Infact the only interesting character was Faye, fellow crash survivor who now seems to be infatuated by Maggie.

I was on the verge of just giving up altogether on this book, but due to sheer laziness to get out of bed and choose something else, I carried on. It turns out, I’m glad I did as the story really began to intensify and gather a quick pace.

The story is written in such a way that everyone becomes a suspect, and I loved this. I really didn’t have a clue who was actually terrorizing Maggie, or indeed if most of it was in her own mind. Each time I’d decided who it was, something would be revealed about another character and I’d change my mind.

Not only was I intrigued by who was stalking Maggie and why, but the mystery of what had happened in the summer and saw Maggie alone on a coach at night in the first place, was dangled like a tantalizing secret throughout. One thing I was a little unsure about was that Maggie remembered what had happened early on in the book, but it’s not shared with the reader until almost the end. I can’t decide if I liked this, as the book is told in the first person by Maggie, it felt something was being kept away from me. I’ve read quite a few books featuring amnesia recently, and I think I prefer memories being revealed as they are remembered, in flashbacks. I think this would have made me connect with Maggie far more, rather than leaving me feeling left out. When I read a book written in the first person, you expect to feel as if you inside this persons mind, and I didn’t feel that with Bad Friends. It did however keep me intrigued.

What I did like about this book was the growth of Maggie, from someone I really disliked to someone I could feel empathy for. There are a couple of little sub plots about Maggie’s childhood and family which were touching and nicely written. I went from thinking she was a shallow, self-absorbed and completely uninterested in her, to really thinking she had had a rough ride and rooting for her.

Bad Friends is a pretty easy read. At just under 400 pages, for the most part it’s fast paced and intriguing and a good page-turner. However, that few chapters in the beginning nearly stopped me from reading the book at all, and pulls down my overall opinion of the book. The beginning promised so much, and the ending really did deliver, with plenty of suspense and guesswork along the way. If your looking for something that doesn’t require much effort with a psychological twist, I’d say give it a go. I’m glad I kept on reading and ended up really enjoying the final half of the book, which I thought, was excellent. I just wish I’d been able to relate to Maggie sooner and then this would have been a definite 4 star read.

My Rating: 3/5

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