Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney (2017) Review

Meet Amber, she’s in a coma

Why I picked up the book:

The tagline (and first “chapter”) did it for me, to be honest. How can you read this:

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:

1. I’m in a coma.

2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.

3. Sometimes I lie.

And not be inta-invested? I didn’t need to know anything else, but in case you do:

Sometimes I Lie is the story of Amber Reynolds, who finds herself in a coma, with no memories of what happened. She can hear everything around her, but she can’t tell anyone that she suspects her husband might have something to do with her accident. We piece together the whole story through the unreliable POVs of Amber at three different times in her life: now, then, and before.

During Amber’s “Now” narrative, we follow her in the present as she lies in the hospital in a coma.

In “Then” we follow her in the immediate past, leading up and including the accident that caused the coma.

In “Before” we get Amber’s version of what happened in her childhood and tween years- events that shaped her relationship with her sister and her identity. These events are told through her 10-year-old self journal entries

The book through my criteria lens:

Sometimes I Lie is a terrific debut novel. In my opinion, Feeney masterfully developed her protagonist. Amber was multidimensional, compelling, and authentic. I don’t know how Feeney managed to get me so emotionally invested in an unreliable character who starts her narrative by saying she lies. But she did. I fell in love with Amber. Even though some characters fell on the stereotypical side and the story would have been better without them, Amber more than made up for them. This book was a creepy and tense page-turner; I couldn’t put it down.

The tension Feeney built was excellent. To me, being in Ambers’s head while she was in a coma was a claustrophobic and intense experience. The discomfort Feeny crafted was just enough to make this narrative an empathetic and visceral read without turning the reader off. The overall tension in the other tenses was equally impressive. 

I loved the “two truths and a lie” idea for the plot. I feel that Feeney delivered in her execution. Still, due to personal taste, I wish a particular side plot hadn’t made it to the book and that the final chapter had answered one of my questions less dubiously— Sometimes I Lie is a solid and strong debut novel.

After I read this book, I also listened to the audiobook, and I highly recommend it. First of all, it is a Macmillan Audio production, which you should know by now I am a fan! Then, we have the fantastic narration by Stephanie Racine. I think that she did a brilliant job bringing Amber to life and complimenting the plot. Her narration was everything I loved about the book, eerie, gloomy, well-paced, intense, and emotional. I highly recommend you check the audiobook as well if this is your jam!

My personal feelings:

The distinct POVs added a lot of suspense and tension to the story, and I was here for all of it. I am not sure if it was intentional in the way I understood it, but I love how the book starts with three facts about Amber, and so do all the “before” chapters, where we get the journal entries of child Amber. To me, it brought a sense of continuity.

My favourite thing in the book was Amber, and how invested in her, I was. I progressively felt worse for her. No word of a lie, halfway through the book, I was crying every chapter, feeling like I wanted to hold her and make her feel better! Especially her child self. It seems like people have been so horrible to her, but there’s always that reminder at the corner of your mind that says Amber mentioned she sometimes lies, so you constantly question how much of her narrative is true.

If I could nitpick, I felt a side plot was utterly unnecessary to the book and included for shock value. Don’t get me wrong, shocked I was – I felt physically sick and had to walk away from the book and take a break. But a small part of me wonders if it was included to enhance the odds of publication.
I could have lived without the last chapter, and I felt like it broke the tension slightly, but it didn’t ruin the book for me at all.

Feeney’s style checks all my boxes; I cannot wait to read her future books! Something tells me they will get progressively better. She has made it to my “auto-buy” author’s club instantly.

Enjoyability     8

Characters       8

Ambience        9

Fairness          9

Plot                  9

Execution        7

My total rating: 4.16

This book is mentioned in these videos: (review) – https://youtu.be/GViNfT7Quww

(synopsis) – https://youtu.be/TI-8FqxMYbM

BOOK SNAPSHOT:

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