Sophie McKenzie is a name that tends to be associated with young adult fiction. As a teenager myself I am fully aware of her successful Girl, Missing, Blood Ties and The Medusa Project series’, despite the shameful fact that I have not read one of them before.
Now McKenzie has turned a wandering eye to the world of the unknown, a la, adults for her latest novel, Close My Eyes. With a premise of a ‘gripping thriller’ we begin with the moody zombie like character of Gen, a thirties something year old who has not been able to awaken (I’m suspecting that is where the cliqued title springs its name) from a slumber of depression after her stillborn daughter, Beth, died eight years ago. It seems that Gen is going to be persuaded by her husband Art, who believes the pair should begin another batch of IVF treatment. That is until a women turns up at their doorstep claiming that Beth may not be as dead as Gen thought she was.
Despite having quite a riveting unique sounding plot which begs the question, how is it possible for someone to steal a baby from inside you? Damn you private clinics, I should have gone to the NHS! Close My Eyes lacks any antidotes of a thriller until we reach the three figure page mark.
Gen is someone who you can understand why she is so depressed, but her whiny nature makes it pretty difficult for you to care about her as at times she is the epitome of dull and irrational. Then we have the other people in Gen’s life who don’t seem to gain any round characterisation and so they are just there to ease Gen along. Thus, it’s just us and jolly Gen for the majority of the novel.
Eventually though the pace does boost up with the meeting of a dashing handsome Irishman who seems to be the only person who genuinely cares about Gen, despite only knowing her for five minutes. If you are prepared to enter the mind of a gloomy woman and mope around with her for 100 pages then your reward will be a batch of nifty action.
Although the book makes reference to how Gen’s psychological state is being questioned, it’s clear there is something rather fishy going on or there wouldn’t exactly be any point to be book. We know that Gen is right to question the past, but the time it takes her to work out what she has to do, she could have already uncovered the truth.
Not to give up any spoilers from the book, but let’s just say that because there aren’t a lot of characters in total, once you begin scoring them off one by one it becomes clear who the deceiving person will be (that is, if there is a deceiving person at all).
Close My Eyes is a book for the woman who wants an insight into a ‘what if these things could happen to me’ type plot. It’s not a Gillian Flynn, Peter May or a Henning Mankell. There are plenty of authors out there who have the power to really establish their work as a ‘gripping thriller,’ unfortunately Close My Eyes is not one of them. McKenzie should step away from entering her own adult mind and instead trace back to her children’s roots as this attempt has evidently proven young adult fiction is her baby.