Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m going to be posting my review of B.A. Paris’ second novel, ‘The Breakdown’. I read her first novel last year and really loved it, so had my eye on this for a while. I read this in order to help me with some “research” for my university Creative Writing Project/dissertation, and ended up loving it so much that I just had to review it on my blog! So, keep reading to discover my thoughts…
If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?
It all started that night in the woods.
Cass Anderson didn’t stop to help the woman in the car, and now she’s dead.
Ever since, silent calls have been plaguing Cass and she’s sure someone is watching her.
Consumed by guilt, she’s also starting to forget things. Whether she took her pills, what her house alarm code is – and if the knife in the kitchen really had blood on it.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** Includes references to both physical and mental illnesses, including a descriptive suicide attempt.
‘The Breakdown’ (February 2017) is B.A. Paris’ second novel, following on from ‘Behind Closed Doors’ (2016). Her upcoming novel, ‘Bring Me Back’, is due to be released in March 2018. Paris is from a Franco/Irish background and has lived in both France and England. She previously worked in an international bank, before re-training as a teacher and setting up a language school with her husband.
The novel received amazing reviews, from the likes of Good Housekeeping: “A psychological page-turner”, Prima: “You’ll race through to discover what’s happening!” and Daily Express: “You’ll be unable to rest until you’ve followed the twists and turns to an ending you didn’t foresee.” Many fellow authors also praised the novel, such as Wendy Walker: “…a page turning thriller that you questioning the family you love, the friends you trust, and even your own mind” and Lisa Hall: “Utterly compelling, brilliant and tense.”
‘The Breakdown’ is a complex Psychological Thriller novel jam-packed full of twists and turns. The narrative essentially follows Cass Anderson, who is consumed by guilt after she didn’t stop to help a woman in a car who is murdered that same night. Cass begins to receive chilling silent calls, and cannot shake the feeling that somebody is after her…
The story is narrated from the first-person account of Cass, allowing the reader to step inside her head and get a sense of the anxiety she is overwhelmed by. The narration is close and personal, creating a heightened sense of claustrophobia for the reader. The novel is written in the form of diary entries – each chapter corresponds to a different day in Cass’ life, mostly chronologically.
Cass was definitely my favourite character in the novel. She feels an overwhelming sense of guilt for not helping the lady in the car, and struggles to get through the days that follow due to her anxiety. Her life is turned completely upside-down by this one event, and she is a good, kind character who deserves happiness. I felt a great deal of sympathy towards Cass, especially when she begins to think that she might have a long-term illness. However, Cass really is a fighter, and she begins proactive in her search for the truth. Her character really inspired to me, and I found that I could relate to her in many different ways.
Cass’ husband Matthew is a seemingly innocent character, but there’s much more to him than meets the eye. I disliked him from the beginning – he refuses to believe Cass and does nothing to alleviate her worries. He often tells her that she is going crazy, and unfortunately she begins to internalise this view. Cass’ best friend Rachel becomes concerned when Cass’ health deteriorates and makes some attempts to help her, but doesn’t do much to comfort her. Again, Rachel is a much more complex character than the reader may first think.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** (I apologise for any spoilers here). This novel contains repeated references to the long-term health condition of Dementia, thoroughly exploring what it is really like to suffer from increasing forgetfulness and memory loss. The novel also contains many references to mental health issues, such as anxiety and paranoia. There is a disturbing, explicit scene of a suicide attempt which some readers may find troubling. If any of these issues may trigger an unwanted response from you, I suggest you skip this book.
As the novel motors forwards, Cass’ fears and anxieties grow and grow, leading her to make some foolish mistakes. She is driven by her sense of paranoia and begins to distrust those around her. Her health gradually deteriorates and she finds herself in a very dark place, which she must work hard at in order to get herself out of.
So, let’s talk about the ending. That ending! There’s a huge twist about 300 pages in which I really didn’t see coming, and it completely took me by surprise. I was a little confused by this revelation at first, but as I continued to read, everything began to fall into place. There’s a dramatic end scene in which Cass finally discovers the truth, and she is active in ensuring that justice gets served. A fantastic conclusion!
Overall, I highly recommend this novel to those of you who enjoy complex Psychological Thrillers that focus in-depth on characters. The novel creates some important moral questions, and I was left questioning if, realistically, I would have stopped to help that lady in the car. I found the suicide attempt pretty upsetting and I feel that this possibly wasn’t needed, so that would be my only fault with the novel. Other than that, it was an exceptional read!
Happy reading 🙂