The Plot (from Goodreads):
Owen Pick’s life is falling apart. In his thirties, a virgin, and living in his aunt’s spare bedroom, he has just been suspended from his job as a geography teacher after accusations of sexual misconduct, which he strongly denies. Searching for professional advice online, he is inadvertently sucked into the dark world of incel—involuntary celibate—forums, where he meets the charismatic, mysterious, and sinister Bryn.
Across the street from Owen lives the Fours family, headed by mom Cate, a physiotherapist, and dad Roan, a child psychologist. But the Fours family have a bad feeling about their neighbor Owen. He’s a bit creepy and their teenage daughter swears he followed her home from the train station one night.
Meanwhile, young Saffyre Maddox spent three years as a patient of Roan Fours. Feeling abandoned when their therapy ends, she searches for other ways to maintain her connection with him, following him in the shadows and learning more than she wanted to know about Roan and his family. Then, on Valentine’s night, Saffyre Maddox disappears—and the last person to see her alive is Owen Pick.
I loved these characters. I thought I was going to hate Saffyre at the beginning, but she turned out to be a badass but also a sweet little girl. Actually, my opinions of almost all of the characters changed from the beginning to the end of the book. I thought all of them were very well done for their purpose.
This is the first book I’ve read that explicitly defines a character as an “incel”. This can be a delicate topic, and I believe Lisa Jewell handles it well. She shows how dangerous and misguided “incel culture” can be, while also acknowledging that men can easily be unfairly lumped into this category. I was glad that the book didn’t celebrate these groups in any way. I found that the book thoughtfully examined toxic masculinity while not letting it overpower the story.
The plot isn’t quite as…well, thrilling…as some of Lisa Jewell’s other books, but I enjoyed it. The creepiest part was that these things happen on a daily basis in every city in the world, which is a terrible but true thought. In this case, the realisticness of the plot made it scarier.
This wasn’t my favorite book by this author, but I enjoyed it, was entertained, and was satisfied by the ending.
Check out my reviews of Lisa Jewell’s other books:
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