THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR BY SHARI LAPENA
The couple next door opens brilliantly, it had me gripped from the very beginning. Just like your typical domestic thriller, it starts with the most ordinary characters making unseemly bad choices. Giving credit were credit is due, Shari Lapena delivered that factor with great effect. Although there were many riveting and unrelenting twists, paying great attention to detail and written meticulously. There are many flaws that I personally feel overshadow the brilliance of the novel. Consequently why this review will center just that.
As I mentioned previously, reading the beginning was riveting. Firstly, the third-person narrative may or may not be frustrating for some, but for me, due to it being in present-tense, it gave extreme importance to the start of the plot. In addition, it gave different viewpoints of the characters that were necessary to grip the reader’s attention because of the highly complex narrative. Lapena did a good job with that. In my opinion, there is a lacking in delivering the remarkable set-up, it got to a point where the author started to slip and failed to make the tension built worthwhile.
Secondly, my biggest peeve with this novel has to be the characters. Not one character was likable, although very well constructed at first, I did not grow into liking them. Some characters were introduced lacking depth with characteristics that just ended up seeming nonsensical to the story, mostly because there were no character developments of any kind.
I’m going to start off with Anne and Marco, the central protagonists. I was particularly intrigued by the both of them. Not to give away spoilers, albeit intrigued by Marco, his character ended up being untrustworthy and a huge disappointment. Anne’s character was made to reference mental health ( postpartum depression, anxiety, dissociative disorder) which made her character intriguing to me. Lapena could have used this to develop Anne’s character. Which more than anyone, could have made up for the the lack of depth of the remaining characters. Instead, this was what she used to create an open ending that became the major let down of the book for most as it equally was the best part for others. Anne’s issue that was made to seem like a very important part of the plot was simply glossed over which was very disappointing. That was a fail on the author’s part.
The inclusion of the wealthy rich parents of Anne was simplistic, and too obvious of a plot. Then again, it is a domestic thriller. I wish I could go into depth without giving away spoilers. The characters of Richard and Alice were just as unlikable as the rest. The neighbors Cynthia and Graham proved to be much more complex than they first appeared, but were given lackluster characteristics with no development by the author. The detectives were not memorable characters. Detective Rasbach seemed very smart though and I enjoyed reading from his viewpoint.
As I mentioned earlier, the open ending that became the major let down of the book for most as it equally was the best part for others, is one of the factors that makes the novel recommendable. Open endings mostly create new elements to a story which is why it’s a risk to choose to end a story on that note. In the case of this novel, the note at which the author tried to create an open ending ended up being unnecessarily unrealistic. This is what makes me agree with the percentage of readers that hate the ending. Although it did not knock me out per se, the secrets, lies, betrayals, mystery-filled suspense and riveting twists make The Couple Next Door worthwhile.
I look forward to engaging in your comments. Feel free to express your opinions on this review and the novel as well. I made sure to keep it spoiler free for those who are yet read it. Let’s discuss! 😀
The Couple Next Door
The couple next door is a domestic thriller brimming with unrelenting twists, unassertive characters, an unnerving plot and a notable shocking ending.