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. 


  1. Thanks for your honest review, Jillian. I don't think this book fits me too, given the complicated characterisations and such. This story sounds like a lot going on.

  2. I really don't like books with inconsistent protagonists. Character growth is good but what kind of person are you writing about here?!? I'm sorry this one didn't work for you.

    1. Inconsistent must have been the word I was searching for while writing this review. Perfect description.