Thank you to Farrar Straus Giroux for sending me a free copy of Our Kind of Cruelty in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
This is a love story. Mike’s love story.
Mike Hayes fought his way out of a brutal childhood and into a quiet, if lonely life, before he met Verity Metcalf. V taught him about love, and in return, Mike has dedicated his life to making her happy. He’s found the perfect home, the perfect job, he’s sculpted himself into the physical ideal V has always wanted. He knows they’ll be blissfully happy together.
It doesn’t matter that she hasn’t been returning his emails or phone calls.
It doesn’t matter that she says she’s marrying Angus.
It’s all just part of the secret game they used to play. If Mike watches V closely, he’ll see the signs. If he keeps track of her every move he’ll know just when to come to her rescue…
A spellbinding, darkly twisted novel about desire and obsession, and the complicated lines between truth and perception, Our Kind of Cruelty introduces Araminta Hall, a chilling new voice in psychological suspense.
I have had a lot of thoughts about this book swirling around in my head since I finished it yesterday. It is a truly unique novel, I haven’t read anything else quite like it, so kudos for that. It is hard for me to give this a concrete rating because there are things that I really liked about it and things that I didn’t, but I think that overall Our Kind of Cruelty is a very well done book that really turned the tables.
First of all, I loved that the main character and unreliable narrator was a man. Hello, thank you!! So many thrillers victimize a woman or are driven by an unreliable woman character. Men can be just as ‘crazy’ as women can. This novel is very character driven and Hall masterfully developed the character Mike. His background in foster care perfectly supported his skewed view of social situations. I did feel like the other characters were not as developed, as may have been the point, but I truly felt like I was in Mike’s head and it was very disturbing!
I wished that I could have heard Verity’s POV, which would have given a big boost to the plot/story line. However, I read an interview of Hall where she states that she purposely didn’t give Verity a voice as a way to demonstrate our society’s double standards of men and women and the judgement women suffer for their actions that men don’t have to deal with. This definitely resonates with me, and I agree wholeheartedly with that concept, however since this book is marketed as a thriller I think I wanted more plot. I think I would like to read about gender inequality in contemporary fiction.
With that being said, I also didn’t get ‘thriller’ from this one. I didn’t find it suspenseful at all. The psychological aspect was very disturbing but I just wished it had gone somewhere. I have read some reviews that said they thought the book picked up in the third section, where a trial takes place. That might be common thinking for a lot of people, but I personally do not like trials in books, it feels like I am reading the book twice. Everything that happened in the first part of the book gets re-told in the court trial.
I wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading this book, it is unique, smart and psychologically dark. I do feel like Hall accomplished what she set out to do, and I respect that. To assign this novel a rating is difficult, but I think I will give it 3.5 out of 5 stars, lots of good points despite some not so good points but I loved the creativity.