Verity (2018)

Published on 4 May 2024 at 20:38

Unbeknownst to Colleen Hoover's reputation, I added this to my Amazon wishlist when it first came out soome years back. Now, I am not a Colleen Hoover fan. If anything, I might describe myself as a Colleen Hoover hater. I digress that this is a somewhat well-written book, with good intentions and partial follow through. Yes, it might seem like a graduated Wattpad, and is only really enjoyable for 15-year-olds that can ignore plot holes consistently for the sake of a shallow narrative. With that being said, I have even more grievances since going back to reread years later from a more critical lens, but we'll get into all of that.

Lowen Ashleigh is our protagonist. While I wanted to like her, I feel as though she was underdeveloped. I tried to defend her. The first lines of the book set the story full-throttle as she witnesses someone getting splattered by a car. At first, she read like someone that is likely suffering from emotional reservation - completely understandable, given the nature of that first scene. As the story goes on, however, I lose a sense of who she is; on the flip side, I never got a sense of who her lover is (so much to the point I'm not even recalling his name at this moment, and to punctuate my point, I won't bother going back to fill it in).

I also have some qualms with some of the meat of the story. I might come across as nitpicky, but with a psychological thriller, all aspects are vital for the proper elements of suspense and intrigue. Lowen is invited to her (decidedly) nameless lover's house to ghostwrite for his wife Verity, bedridden in comatose state. It takes Lowen a considerable amount of time to read Verity's manuscript, which obviously is a ploy to keep her character stuck in that house long enough to be emotionally invested, while also dragging the audience's realization, simultaneous with hers, of her predicament. 

Despite a concern of lacking in two of the three main characters, Verity herself is quite a force to be reckoned with. I wouldn't even go as far as to say that she was written inpenetratably well. I love the scenes with her ghostly aura lurking around the house, keeping Lowen on edge and raising the reader's hackles. Verity herself is what I find to be the redeeming element of the book that keeps it "readable," albeit a drag at times. She's the most complex out of the bunch, and this almost makes her the most likeable for me... even though she's undeniably a heinous cow. Because you really want me to believe she wrote a detailed manuscript detailing the grisly murder of her children for a writing excercise? Just like those actors that have to bite the heads off dead animals to get into character, you must REALLY suck at your craft if you have to go to such lengths to carry. And anyway, she'd already been exposed for supposedly trying to abort her children with a coat hanger unbeknownst to her husband; sure, that could be a detail included for her character creating exercise, but it still stands: she was manipulative and two-faced. The conundrum of "did she, did she not?" is not a conundrum. It's a bland set-up. 

I'm sure with the disorder in my train of thought as this review progresses reveals my frustration at the poor execution in this book. Because honestly, its concept is fascinating. I love unreliable narrators. In this book, the narrator isn't unreliable; just boring. But Verity is meant to be the troubling one. So imagine my disappointment that the plot twist felt more like an author's grasping at straws to instill a stronger sense of intrigue in the readers beyond what the book could do 336 pages. And the story, riddled with other elements only pliable when relying on a reader's suspension of disbelief? Falls juvenile. You expect readers to believe that she was fooling medical staff and attendants for MONTHS faking her injuries, her nearly vegetative state? You expect readers to want to follow Lowen's narrative when she pretty much homewrecks and has repetitive explicit sex scenes with her man that's not her man in lieu of the chaos unfolding at her hands? And you expect readers to believe the mass 5-star reviews on Goodreads aren't from Colleen Hoover's devout fan base that has no real scope of what a psychological thriller should entail, and could entail? 

Maybe I lied. Maybe this book isn't readable. Maybe it only seems readable upon being compared to Colleen Hoover's other works. 

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