Thursday, 15 January 2015

Second Life - S J Watson - Intriguing and chilling

The blurb:

Julia’s life is comfortable, if unremarkable, until her sister’s brutal murder opens old wounds. She finds solace in her sister’s best friend, Sophie, but when Sophie reveals the extent of her sister’s online life, Julia becomes convinced that the truth about her death lies deep in the dark, sordid world of online chatrooms and internet sex.

What begins as Julia’s search for the truth about her sister quickly turns into an exploration of herself and her own desires. After all, the internet is her playground, and why be just one thing when you can be as many as you like? What could possibly go wrong? After all, it’s only cybersex, isn’t it? No one’s going to get hurt.

But then she meets the dark and mysterious Lukas in an online chat room, and things begin to get very dangerous indeed.

My Review:

The eagerly awaited second novel by the author of the hugely acclaimed Before I Go To Sleep was always going to have a bit of a hard time meeting expectations, following in the footsteps of such a brilliant and much hyped debut novel and it was with some trepidation I began to read this psychological thriller, but I worried needlessly as it turned out to be a gripping and enthralling read.

Julia is the main protagonist, a middle aged Mum with a bit of a past and a few character flaws who is devastated to learn of her younger sister Kate's death. She sets out to discover what really happened in Paris to Kate and as she delves into the murky side of internet dating her sister appears to have been part of begins to build a secret life of her own.

Devoted to her teenage son Connor and her reliable and loving husband Hugh she is nevertheless a bored housewife and when temptation presents itself her addictive personality rises to the surface once more and threatens to undo her carefully woven life.

I was intrigued by the cleverly constructed web of mystery and concealment and rash moves followed by even worse decisions. The book is pretty slow to begin with and for the first 40 or 50 pages I began to wonder if it was going to grab me at some point or not .... Then it abruptly seized me by the jugular!

It begins like a dog quietly gnawing on a large and unwieldy bone, then suddenly the bone is being gnashed and crushed and shaken from side to side and theres no way you're going to get that tasty chunk of cartilage out of Rovers jaws. I felt like that with this book.

It's a very cleverly constructed twisting storyline that intrigues and chills and even when Julia makes some really stupid moves I could kind of see why she did and even though I didn't agree with lots of the things she did, it didn't at any point become unbelievable. I did find her husband a little too easy going, the fact that he has a lot of stuff going on at work being little excuse for his placid attitude towards Julia, especially given her background which is gradually revealed. However I forgive the author this because this thriller did what it says on the tin - it thrilled me as I read on far later into the night than is good for the bags under my eyes!

The ending is not so much ambiguous as indecisive, but its actually not the ending thats important as much as how we get there

A confident and sometimes brazen publication guaranteed to give anyone who has considered using internet chat sites to hook up with a potential mate a sleepless night. Highly recommended and destined I'm sure to be another huge success for S.J. Watson

My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher Randomhouseuk/Doubleday for my advance copy of yet another outstanding novel.


  1. Oh, this sounds really good. Thanks for sharing, Janet

  2. I loved before I go to sleep and have heard mixed reviews about this one but thanks for a great review I may still pick it up!


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