Publisher: Kensington Books, Kensington
Date of publication: April 24th, 2017
Genre: General Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Trigger Warning: sexual abuse, racism, and domestic violence
Book synopsis (from Goodreads):
In a taut psychological thriller filled with breathtaking twists, Joseph Souza explores the tangle of betrayal and deception between two neighboring couples, and asks how well we can really know others–or ourselves.
It all seems so promising at the start . . .
When Leah and her husband, Clay, move from Seattle to Maine, she envisions a vibrant new neighborhood packed with families–playmates for her twins, new friends she can confide in and bond with. But while Clay works long hours to establish his brewery, Leah is left alone each day in a nearly deserted housing development where the only other occupants are aloof and standoffish.
Bored and adrift, Leah finds herself watching Clarissa and Russell Gaines next door, envying their stylishly decorated home and their university careers. But Leah’s obsession with the intriguing, elegant Clarissa grows until she’s not just spying from afar but sneaking into their house, taking small objects . . . reading Clarissa’s diary. It contains clues to a hidden turmoil Leah never guessed at–and a connection to a local college girl who’s disappeared.
The more Leah learns about Clarissa, the more questions emerge. Because behind every neighbor’s door there are secrets that could shatter lives forever . . .
The Neighbor left me with mixed emotions. It also left me with mixed feelings. I like reading mysteries/thrillers. I also like reading books that take current events and put a fresh spin on them. The Neighbor did that. That is not what gave me mixed feelings. I felt that part of the book was very well written. My mixed feelings were about the characters and their storylines.
The storyline of The Neighbor was promising. A bored housewife starts spying on her next door neighbor. She soon becomes obsessed with her. The secondary storyline was about a missing college girl and her disappearance. I would have been fine with those two storylines. With the secondary storyline of Leah’s secret, Clarissa’s secrets, Clay’s secret, I couldn’t keep focused on the book. I felt overwhelmed.
I like damaged characters. They make the books they are in more interesting to read. But Leah was just out there. She came across as creepy. Put it this way, if I had a feeling that my neighbor was spying on me, I would be uncomfortable. I would have distanced myself like Clarissa did. I do wish that her secret came out in full earlier in the book, instead of being dragged out. Speaking of that, I didn’t like the 180 her secret took. By the end of the book, my head was spinning. I couldn’t keep up with everything.
Clay drove me nuts. His trying to rationalize his relationship with Mycah was pathetic. As was his trying to drink his issues away. I also couldn’t believe that he didn’t put two and two together about part of Leah’s secret. I mean, her attitude towards sex was a huge clue for me. While I thought that he was a tool, he did stand by Leah when push came to shove. So, I didn’t completely dislike him.
I ran through a lot of emotions with Clarissa. At first, I felt bad for her. But when her character did a 180, I was surprised. Then I started to dislike her. She was manipulative and knew how to work things in her favor. So, I wasn’t surprised with what happened to her at the end of the book.
Russell was the only one that I truly felt bad for. He was manipulated by all the women in the book. I felt that he didn’t have a chance because no matter what he did, he was screwed.
I actually enjoyed Mycah’s character. She was a strong woman who didn’t stand down for anyone. She was passionate about her beliefs. I do think that she got in over her head with Russell and Clay. Even though I enjoyed her character, I won’t excuse her actions.
The thriller part of the book was well written. I do feel that it got lost with everything that was going on.
The end of the book confused me. While I understood what happened, I felt the book ended too suddenly. I was left wondering what will happen.
What I liked about The Neighbor:
A) Promising storyline
B) Strong characters
C) Engaging storyline
What I disliked about The Neighbor:
A) Felt overwhelmed with the storylines.
B) The characters drove me nuts
C) The ending confused me
I would give The Neighbor an Adult rating. There is sex. The sex scenes between Clay and Mycah were graphic and degrading. There is language. There is violence. I would not recommend anyone under the age of 21 reading this book.
There are triggers in this book. They are: sexual abuse, racism, and domestic violence. If you are triggered by any of these, then do not read the book.
I am on the fence if I would recommend The Neighbor to friends and family. While I wouldn’t reread this book, I would be open to reading more books by the author.
I would like to thank Kensington, Kensington Books, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review The Neighbor.
All opinions stated in this review of The Neighbor are mine.
**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**