Monday, July 12, 2021

Review: I Don't Forgive You by Aggie Blum Thompson

by Aggie Blum Thompson
Release Date: June8th 2021
2021 Forge Books
Kindle Edition; 352 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250818454
Audiobook: B08JD3PBMK
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

It all starts at a neighborhood party when a local dad corners Allie and calls her by an old, forgotten nickname from her dark past. The next day, he is found dead.

Soon, the police are knocking at her door, grilling her about a supposed Tinder relationship with the man, and pulling up texts between them. She learns quickly that she's been hacked and someone is impersonating her online. Her reputation--socially and professionally--is at stake; even her husband starts to doubt her. As the killer closes in, Allie must reach back into a past she vowed to forget in order to learn the shocking truth of who is destroying her life.
My Thoughts
I Don't Forgive You had such an interesting premise,  but that was quickly lost for me about three chapters into the book.  I feel like there are so many books out there that feature this so-called innocent person who gets accused of doing something sordid, and then something shocking happens to them (like in this book) whereby they have no idea why this is happening or how.  And then you get this story line where the author tries to drop this bombshell on the reader, the one where no one has called the main character by that name in years and the poor character has no idea how their carefully hidden past has been discovered.  Yeah, that one.  This book so went there.
First of all, the main character in this story, Allie, who has the nefarious job of being the poor innocent who is accused of all sorts of things, was not very well-developed nor very likeable.  This device is getting used a lot in recent books and I am fast becoming tired of this being a central focus to drive character development.  I think it is meant to derive sympathy for a character, but for me, all it did was make me shake my head and wonder what Allie was really thinking at times as she did some really silly things.  And surrounding Allie is the usual group of suspects who can be trusted to have secret pasts, to be mean, to accuse her, and to be downright terrible people so that Allie looks like the good person.  It didn't work as I really didn't empathize with any of the characters in this book, except maybe for Allie's son Cole.  When you try to set up too many accusers and make everyone look suspicious, it can backfire on you, which is exactly what happened in this book.  I don't have to 'like' the characters in the book, but I do need to understand their motivations; this was definitely not made clear in this book.
To be fair, the book is actually well-written, and the author does a great job of creating tension and suspense, making you wonder what will happen to poor Allie next.  It was quite easy to figure out who the culprit was if you paid attention, and I think I kept reading just to validate my choice.  And the author used Allie's insecurities quite well to create more tension and problems in her marriage and in her life, but that really had nothing to do with what was happening and some of it felt forced and didn't always make sense.  Plus, her relationship with her husband and his family felt downright toxic.  Considering that relationship, perhaps it is not so shocking she hid so much from him, but to use that to create tension didn't quite work.   And why would you ever make your sister, who is clearly not stable, power of attorney over your mother who is suffering from dementia? 
I did like how the author highlighted some of the risks and dangers of online security. However, for someone who works with computers as a photographer, you would think she has a better knowledge of computer security than what she shows in this book.  Which brings me to another issue I had with this book.  If you knew you were being hacked like this, why wouldn't you go immediately to someone who specializes in this kind of thing?

I Don't Forgive You had potential, but was caught up in a story line where the author tried to make every neighbour sound guilty in an attempt to make Allie feel like the victim.  It didn't actually work for me and I ended up not liking most of the characters.  The author is a solid writer though and she was able to keep the tension and the suspense at a pretty good level.  However, work does need to be done with character development because there were so many times I couldn't believe Allie just said, or did, something that was silly. And I would have liked a bit more focus on the neighbourhood dynamics rather than just on Allie.  All in all, a quick, easy read.  And although it was just an okay book for me, I would definitely be willing to read another by this author to see how she develops her story lines and her characters in the future.