Review: The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

Monday, March 9, 2015

Rating: 3 stars
For lack of a better description, this book was entertaining enough, but it is one that left me feeling confused. To be honest, even though the story itself was interesting, I felt like it was a bit too all over the place. There were too many things going on! At times, I wasn't sure if I was reading the same book - it has a bit of mystery, thriller, drama... Its themes and topics also vary greatly - there's an autistic brother, an alcoholic mother, a responsible college student who became an adult too fast, a convicted criminal, and a love interest with a hidden past. 

It also doesn't help that it is told in first person with a 21-year old character who until now, I can't quite figure out. At times, he is this wise adult who grew up with a tough upbringing. The next minute, he is the college student who is only trying to make a name for himself. Don't forget though that he can also be a tough and strong man, and can pretty much beat anyone up if he wanted to. Later, he becomes this sentimental guy who crushes on a pretty college girl (and let me tell you that this part and the way he talks about the girl honestly makes him seem a little perverted and superficial - total character turn off!) 

I'm just not sure who he really is! I'm still so confused! I couldn't figure out if I liked him or if I detested him. I wanted to empathize and root for this main character, but I don't even know who he is even after finishing the book. 

In addition, I didn't like the way it ended. I understand it's fiction. I have to suspend disbelief somewhere, but the outcome was so unrealistic! I didn't buy it one bit, and it just made me annoyed to be honest, as I felt like everything unraveled too easily and too perfectly.

The bottom line here is there's just so much happening all at once that I felt like the main story line was left in the backseat. I felt like all the story lines were just added in for shock value, and I was a bit frustrated because of that. I just think that the book could have been more simple, and doing so would probably make the main plot stand out and more realistic and believable. 

Having said that, I didn't think the book was bad even though my review sounds like it is. In fact, I thought it was a good book to pass the time. It also doesn't hurt that it's an incredibly fast-paced page turner that entertained and kept me intrigued all throughout. I just wish the plot lines and the character development here were a little tighter, because the debut author's writing is pretty nice and showed a lot of promise.