Disappointment can be so…well…disappointing – “Second Life” by S.J. Watson

August 9, 2015 at 9:49 pm 6 comments

I will start off by tipping my hat to S.J. Watson’s first book “Before I go to Sleep.”  It was a great suspense.  That makes this review all the more painful for me because I was very excited for Watson’s new book.  And I understand that sometimes that sophomore effort can be so hard, particularly when the first book was so successful.  But honestly, does this Unknownpoor author have no one in his life who, over a morning cup of coffee, would say to him “don’t publish this…no seriously it is bad. Cream in your coffee?”

Julia has a sorted past.  But like all heroines (not sure this is really the right word for her), she has come out stronger and a better person.  She is married to a lifelong friend. She has adopted her sister’s (Kate) son because Kate was unable to take care of him.  She is taking pictures again.  Julia has it together.  Until she receives a call that Kate has been murdered in a dark Parisian alley.  Then things start to unravel for Julia.

In an attempt to piece together who murdered her sister, Julia begins logging into a dating website Kate used for casual hook-ups. Not a couple days into her research, Julia meets someone online.  They begin talking, and one thing leads to another and Julia’s shunning her perfect life for hotel hook-ups.  But what about Kate’s murder and solving the mystery you say? Well sure she is doing that kind of too, but mostly she is hooking up with one guy she met online.  And poor Julia, she wants to stop but she can’t. Did I mention she is a recovering addict?  So, what is a girl to do really? Like all books with this type of storyline, there is always the tension that the husband will find out, that the son will hate her, that her whole life will crash but of course she having such a great time.  Life is no picnic when your sister is murdered and you start having an affair.

The themes and twists and turns in this book have been written before – hundreds of times.  The predictability of the story is painful at best and maddening at worst.  And Julia is so terribly unlikeable. She makes so many stupid decisions that you really are kind of relieved when there are consequences – it just seems fair.

Maybe Watson was on a tight deadline and just had to churn something out. Maybe he had some personal problem that affected his writing so severely that this is where he ended up. Or maybe, and I don’t like this one but still, “Before I go to Sleep” was it for him and it is all downhill from here.  But regardless, he has his work cut-out for him in the writing of  his third  book.

Oh, and, Mr. Watson, perhaps the next book could not end in a silly cliff-hanger. Please. Cream in your coffee?


Entry filed under: August 2015 reads. Tags: , , , .

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. libbycole007  |  August 9, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    That’s such a shame! A good editor should have helped, at least with breaking the news gently.

    • 2. Emily C  |  August 10, 2015 at 8:21 am

      I know. I have been wondering a lot lately where all the good editors are.

      • 3. libbycole007  |  August 10, 2015 at 4:35 pm

        Tell me about it, I think a lot of people are getting lazy about a stage that’s actually quite crucial.

  • 4. Heather  |  August 10, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    I really loved ‘Before I Go To Sleep’ as well. It’s one of those books I didn’t think I’d like, but by the end of it I couldn’t put it down. I was thinking of giving ‘Second Life’ a go, but if I do I will definitely approach it carefully.

    Also, S.J. Watson is actually a man? I was super surprised when I found it, as the writing itself sounds like it’s a woman. But no – it’s a guy with no hair and glasses.

    • 5. Emily C  |  August 10, 2015 at 9:19 pm

      That is hilarious. I completely made an assumption based on the writing and didn’t think twice about it.

      • 6. Heather  |  August 10, 2015 at 9:22 pm

        I did the exact same thing. I only found out by chance. I remember thinking at the time, ‘S.J. Watson is a man? That can’t be right. Nope, it’s right. Wow.’

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There is some great literature out there, but there is a lot of bad literature as well. We shouldn't all have to read it. These are my recommendations and thoughts about the books I read.


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