Friday, August 27, 2021

Book Review: One by One by Ruth Ware

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Page turning thriller that will keep you engaged
Cons: A few things, but the book is still quite strong overall
The Bottom Line:
Corporate ski retreat
Turns into snow bound thriller
Pages turn quickly

Corporate Retreats are Murder

A couple of months back, I had a friend recommend Ruth Ware to me, specifically One by One, because of the nods to Agatha Christie.  The premise of this book was too intriguing to pass up, so I quickly added it to my to be read list.

When the key employees of the internet startup Snoop show up at a chalet in the French Alps, they are expecting a week of presentations and skiing.  However, there is tension brewing just below the surface thanks to a buyout deal that has split the board.  The tension only grows worse when heavy snow and an avalanche cuts everyone off from the rest of the world and one of the members of a group goes missing somewhere out in the snow.  As the hours pass, it becomes clear a killer is in the group.  Will help arrive before they are all dead?

Okay, so Agatha Christie used a group of characters cut off from the rest of civilization in many of her works, but I have to give Ruth Ware full credit for making it her own and figuring out ways to cut her characters off from the world in the modern age.  That’s a challenge that the modern mystery author has to contend with, and she did it brilliantly.

Likewise, the plot is wonderful.  Even when we know what is going to happen, we are left breathless with other important questions like when and who.  There is a sense of foreboding coming from the very beginning of the novel, and the tension ratches up as the story progresses until we finally reach the climax.  Trust me, you won’t be able to put this book down.

Since this is a thriller, the language is ramped up quite a bit from the books I normally read.  I get that characters in this situation would definitely be swearing.  But I still felt like it was excessive for the story – it was certainly more than I am used to even when I venture beyond my normal cozies.

The characters were good.  I feel like most of the characters don’t go beyond types for us to truly get to know them.  The few that we did get more backstory on fell into cliché territory.  Now don’t misunderstand – I liked the characters.  I wanted them to survive.  When someone did die, I felt it.  They just could have been a little stronger.

If you are looking for atmosphere, this book has it is spades.  It made me shiver with cold in the middle of Southern California August heat.  It was easy to feel as trapped as the characters are as the events of the book unfold.

I listened to this book on audio thanks to my local library.  I had a couple of issues with the audio.  The story is told from two different character’s first-person point of view.  Since those point of view changes were always labeled, they were easy to track.  However, we had some other things that were listed for each character when we changed points of view that were repetitive.  I’m sure if I’d been reading it, I would have more easily skimmed over it and it wouldn’t have been quite as annoying.

The other has to do with the narrator.  Don’t get me wrong, Imogen Church did a mostly good job reading the story.  However, when a character was afraid or insecure, she over did it in her reading to the point of being annoying.  Ironically, that seemed to go away as the book progressed.  Either that or I got used to her style of narration and I didn’t notice as much.

I know I’ve been pointing out flaws, but they are more nitpicks.  Overall, this is a fantastic book.  When I had to stop listening for some reason, I was always disappointed and couldn’t wait to get back to find out what happened next.

So if you are looking for a thriller that will keep you turning pages, you’ll be glad you picked up One by One.  Just be sure you have plenty of your favorite hot beverage on hand.  You’ll definitely need it.

1 comment:

  1. I loved Ruth Ware's first two books but the rest of them haven't really grabbed me. This one looks really good though and more like the first book. I really need to pick this one up.