Huge thank you to the lovely people at NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the eARC copy of The Look-Alike!
“You can’t live in fear. And I can’t seem to live without it.”
After getting burned by Seven Deadly Shadows, I was hesitant to pick up another book off of my January anticipated releases list. I wasn’t sure I could handle being let down twice in a row. Thankfully, The Look-Alike did not disappoint! I was drawn to this book for many reasons. First off, I don’t know what it’s been but lately I’ve been getting more and more into thrillers and mystery novels. Also, the whole premise of this just sounded fascinating. Our main character, Sienna Scott, stumbles across a dead body when leaving her college library late at night. Haunted by the similarities between herself and the victim, Sienna flees to London for ten years. She eventually returns home to take care of her mother, who suffers from a Paranoid Personality Disorder, when she starts having more and more reason to think she had been the intended victim all along.
This book really kept me on my toes. I picked it up on a whim one night before bed, and ended up not being able to put it down. Erica Spindler really does an excellent job of throwing in red herrings and keeping you guessing until the very end. Everyone seems suspicious at one point or another, and you keep learning new information about them. This book also does a really good job of getting into your head, and making you start to question just who you believe. That said, this book isn’t perfect. The writing felt a little juvenile at times, and the romance felt unnecessary to me. Still, it was a thoroughly enjoyable read and kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end.
Writing Style & World Building
I’ll be discussing writing style more than world building since this book takes place in a town called Tranquility Bluffs. While that town is fictional, it resembles just about any small town in northern United States. As such, there isn’t a ton of world building done. That isn’t a detriment to the book though, as Tranquility Bluffs has no problems feeling realistic. It has all the small town charm of everybody knowing everything about everyone, and information spreading like wildfire. I will say, this is the perfect winter thriller. It has all the right feel to it, and two of the major plot points – the first time Sienna finds the body ten years ago and the climax of the novel- take place during snowstorms.
As I mentioned before, the author does an outstanding job of including red herrings to throw you off. I was on edge the entire book trying to figure out who I suspected, but she just kept adding twists and turns that made me question my predictions. The one thing I will mention is that at times, especially during the romance scenes the writing did feel a little juvenile at times. I honestly don’t know how else to explain it but that. It just felt off and like it was suddenly being written by a much younger and more inexperienced writer. Thankfully, those moments were few and far between and didn’t detract too much from my immersion into the story.
The Look-Alike has so many characters that are all wonderfully multifaceted. In writing a story like this, characters with multiple layers are a necessity into crafting a good plot, and the author does not disappoint. Every single character has a secret that causes them to come under suspicion at least once. The story is told entirely through Sienna’s point of view, the first person voice didn’t bother me nearly as much as it usually does. In dealing with her mother, and her own fears of developing her mother’s mental illness, Sienna provides a borderline unreliable narration at times that made me wonder what was real, and what was the result of her potentially overreacting.
The one character interaction I didn’t like though was the romance. I understand functionally what it did for the plot, but that didn’t mean that it felt any less forced to me. Be warned going in that there are multiple sex scenes, though they are for the most part a fade to black moment. Sienna instantly falls for her neighbor Jonathon, which I didn’t buy for two reasons. One, I just hate insta love. Two, when she falls in love with him, he’s honestly acting really creepy and I find it hard to believe that someone in her position would look past that. Overall, I wasn’t a fan of that part which definitely did take it down a star for me.
I won’t say too much here, as I don’t want to give too much away, but this plot will definitely take you for a ride. There is very rarely a dull moment, with so many twists and turns throughout the book. While I was able to guess the true killer before they were revealed, the author definitely made me pause and question my judgement a couple of times. On top of that, I wasn’t able to guess their motive until they revealed it at the end, which meant that I couldn’t relax even after I’d figured out who it was. It’s a complex plot that deals both with a murder mystery as well as Sienna’s mother’s mental illness which creates a multitude of nail biting moments. The climax is so tense, and I ended up flying through the last ten percent of this book, anxious to see how it ended.
Final Thoughts: My Rating 4/5
All in all, The Look-Alike was such a nail biter, and I definitely recommend it to anyone looking to pick up a fast paced psychological thriller. It’s not perfect, but it is engaging and fun to read. There were multiple parts where I was so unsettled that I had to get up and make sure there wasn’t actually anyone in my apartment. Again, a huge thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the eARC! This was my first book by Erica Spindler, but now I’m interested to read the other books she’s published. If they’re anything like this, I’ll love them. Until then, I’ll be hoping that I don’t stumble across a dead body on my way home from campus.