Book Review #72: Berlin Syndrome by Melanie Joosten (Advance Reader Copy from Scribe Publications)

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Title: Berlin Syndrome
Author: Melanie Joosten
Pages: 256
Genre: Mystery, Psychological Thriller
Format: Paperback, Film Tie-In edition
Date Published: January 12, 2017
Publishing House: Scribe Publications
Goodreads Rating: 3.42
Personal Rating: 4/5
Synopsis
2006, Berlin. The once-divided city still holds its share of secrets.

One afternoon, near the tourist trap of Checkpoint Charlie, Clare meets Andi. He’s a native Berliner and English teacher; she’s an architectural photographer who has taken leave from her job in Australia to travel through Eastern Europe. There is an instant attraction, and when Andi invites her to stay, Clare thinks she may finally have found somewhere to call home.

But as the days pass and the walls of Andi’s apartment close in, Clare begins to wonder if it’s really love that Andi is after … or something more sinister.

This closely observed and gripping psychological thriller shifts between Andi’s and Clare’s perspectives, revealing the power of obsession, the fluidity of truth, and the kaleidoscopic nature of human relationships. Berlin Syndrome is a startling debut from a talented new writer. [Goodreads]

My Personal Thoughts

WHOA! This story made me cringe a couple of times!I’ve heard and read mixed reviews about it especially from people who compared the story with the movie adaptation last February 2017. They said that the movie was boring, some said it was intense and gripping, while a majority said it was different from the book. I have no idea, honestly, I requested for a copy because of its synopsis. It is so intriguing, I remembered the time when I finished reading Stolen by Lucy Christopher. It was kind of similar to this story because both have victims slash prisoners and they both sort of fell in love with their captor although in this story the prisoner is also messed up and a little fucked up. This was so INTENSE. I must admit that there were moments of boredom but as the story progresses, the author made me like the flow even more! I thought it will just be another case of stockholm syndrome where the victim felt attached to the captor. I was wrong, the main character named Clare is also twisted and sick. She is as crazy as the antagonist and it made the story way better compared to previous novels published with the same plot twist. I admire the author for creating a masterpiece that talked about the effect when someone leaves a person during his vulnerable age  and what might happen to his interaction with other people and his way of life as well. I was in deep awe because the female character became accustomed to being trapped in an apartment far away from anyone who can hear or notice her absence. The male antagonist on the other hand is just so freaking crazy but every move and decision that he made sort of convinced me that he was doing the right thing. I can’t believe that I even felt sorry for him.  Frankly, the cover is not stunning because it is a movie tie-in edition and it looks boring. Probably I will give the movie a chance and find it out for myself how it goes.

Overall, the story is a must read for readers who enjoy dark and twisted stories. I liked it! It may be slow-paced during the first part but it definitely caught my interest! Kudos! I am giving it a four out of five for a beautiful setting (Berlin), for messy characters, for an impressive writing style, and for mind-boggling life lessons that it wants to convey to its readers. I really do appreciate novels like this one and I am definitely recommending it.

~JaNnA

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Book Review #67: October is the Coldest Month by Christoffer Carlsson (Advance Reader Copy from Scribe Publications)

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Title: October is the Coldest Month
Author: Christoffer Carlsson
Pages: 192
Genre: Young Adult, Crime, Mystery
Format: Paperback (ARC)
Date Published: June 08, 2017
Publishing House: Scribe Publications
GoodReads Rating: 3.3
Personal Rating: 4/5

Synopsis

Vega Gillberg is 16 years old when the police come knocking on the door looking for her older brother, Jakob.

Vega hasn’t heard from him in days, but she has to find him before the police do. Jakob was involved in a terrible crime. What no one knows is that Vega was there, too.

In the rural Swedish community where the Gillbergs live, life is tough, the people are even tougher, and old feuds never die. As Vega sets out to find her brother, she must survive a series of threatening encounters in a deadly landscape. As if that wasn’t enough, she’s dealing with the longing she feels for a boy that she has sworn to forget, and the mixed-up feelings she has for her brother’s best friend.

During a damp, raw week in October, the door to the adult world swings open, and Vega realises that once she has crossed the threshold there is no turning back.

My Personal Thoughts

The story is short but it was able to send me the message that it wants to convey. I was cringing the whole time! It was a mixture of crime, sex, and everything in between. I love how simply it was written without omitting the meaning of the book. The setting it an old suburb where it is possible that murdered people can be shoved and forgotten in an instant. The character is young but not innocent! I feel sad for Vega because at a very young age she felt and experienced all those terrible things. The need for sex, being an accessory to a crime and falling in love with someone who treated you like shit. Everything will still go back to basic, LOVE. It was because of love that Vega followed his brother, it was love that their uncle Dan got involved with Diana, it was love that Diana did everything for her son Tom, it was love that Tom did what has to be done, and it was love that Vega was able to do stupid and wreckless things for Tom. 198 pages and yet a lot of things took place. I have nothing against that there was no solution about the crime, it just shows how realistic this book is! Not all crimes were being solved in reality and the people involved just have to live with it for the rest of their miserable lives. I like this book! It is fast-paced and a fast-read. The twist is predictable but I just love how perfect it went. The ending is not a cliff hanger although it went nowhere, it’s not amazing for some readers but I like it. It’s just one of those moments in live where there’s no closure, things happen and that’s it. Just bear with it and live with it. I dont like Vega, the character is twisted and pathetic and not a good influence for young readers. It may be a YA story but I find it suitable for mature readers. I’ll giving it a 4/5 for being realistic.

~JaNnA