Read from: 25th February
To: 26th February
Format: Audible audiobook
Length: 8 hours 40 minutes/308 pages
The Girl Next Door by Shari Lapena tells the story of Anne and Marco, a married couple with a six-month-old daughter Cora. When the babysitter cancels at the last minute, Marco encourages Anne to leave sleeping Cora in their home while they attend their neighbour’s party. After a dispute with her husband, Anne returns home, to find the front door ajar and her baby gone.
I had heard a colleague talking about how they were reading this gripping book, and it didn’t take long for me to go home and use one of my Audible credits to get the book. About a week later, I started listening to it. 24 hours later, I had finished. Here are my thoughts on the book.
There are a lot of triggering topics
It might not come as a surprise to learn that there are a lot of trigger sensitive topics in this book, from depression to kidnapping. Though it is something to bear in mind if you’re a sensitive soul, it wasn’t so much of an issue for me personally.
It is incredibly easy to read
OK, so I haven’t technically read the book, but it was super easy to listen to. I imagine it would be easy to read, as well. It took me about 24 hours to listen to the entire book because I felt unable to turn the audiobook off. I’m sure that if I had started it early enough on the first day, I would have probably finished it on that day, too.
It starts immediately
I am a bit picky with the openings of the books I read. I dislike it when they start too quickly or when they take forever to start. For me, this book starts practically immediately. While I don’t think it is a bad thing in this instance, I think the audience (or at least me) would have benefitted from experiencing Anne, Marco and Cora as a family a little before the action truly starts.
The characters are believable
In my opinion, the characters are flawed in a perfectly believable way without being annoying. I have read reviews of this book that do say they found the characters annoying/unbelievable, etc, but I quite liked them. I felt anger when I should have felt anger, I felt relief when I should have felt relief, and I felt sorrow when I should have felt sorrow. All of those I believe were down to the author’s writing abilities for one, but also down to the characters and their reactions to the situation. They were definitely not perfect within themselves, but who wants to read a book about perfect characters? Besides, if they were perfect, they probably wouldn’t have left their daughter at home alone.
The book is heavy
Obviously with a plot as deep and serious as the one it is, it is definitely not a feel-good book! It does make you think about a lot of different things, especially the widely publicised disappearance of Madeleine McCann in 2007 since the circumstances surrounding Madeleine’s disappearance seem similar to that in The Couple Next Door.
The narrator of the story brings it to life
For me, the narrator of an audiobook can really make or break a book. With The Couple Next Door, the narrator Kirsten Potter really does make the book. She speaks clearly and enunciates well, which regulates the pace to a perfect standard.
The book isn’t very compelling…
So perhaps this point is a bit bizarre considering I have talked about how easy it is to read/listen to, and how quickly I got through the book. Being completely honest, I feel like one of the reasons I found this book easy to consume and enjoyed it so much was because of the fact that I listened to it in such a short time span. If I hadn’t listened to it in such an intense amount of time, it probably would have taken me the best part of a week – if not longer – to get through it. I perhaps wouldn’t have been enthralled to pick up the book and continue listening. Overall, I enjoyed the book and the plot but I can completely understand why some people think the book is a bit drawn out.
Overall rating: 9/10
Writing quality: 8/10
Feel good: 2/10
Recommend: I almost wish I had bought this book in paperback because I definitely would recommend it and having it in paperback would make it easier for me to lend it out! This book is perfect for crime/mystery readers, especially if you have a day/afternoon free. Although I have a lot of audiobooks that I still have never listened to, I am inclined to read this one again because I did enjoy it so much the first time around, though I don’t know if being aware of the suspect from the beginning will taint my initial liking of this novel.