Stay Awake – Book Review @megangoldin #psychologicalthriller

This book was offered via NetGalley and Canelo Crime in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed here are my own.

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Liv Reese has a rare and complex form of amnesia. Every time she goes to sleep, she wakes up, remembering absolutely nothing from the past two years. So, her solution is never to sleep. She drinks highly caffeinated drinks, espresso, energy drinks, and takes over-the-counter pills to stay awake. Despite all her efforts, occasionally, she falls asleep. Sometimes on a bus, sometimes on a park bench. She awakens to the same confusion and memory loss over and over again.

Except now, there is a murder with all the evidence pointing to her as the perpetrator. Liv has no memory of the person she wakes up next to, who is now dead. Yet, the fact that it is her ex-fiance gives detectives Halliday and Lavelle more reason to believe Liv has killed Ted Cole. I loved the depth of character the author exposed with both of these detectives. It was an interesting sub-plot.

The storyline drew me in from the first. However, I was confused at times, as the timeline went back and forth between present-day and two years prior when Liv Reese’s life as she’d known it came to a brutal and terrifying end. Once I got accustomed to the author’s technique of telling the whole story, it got easier to keep up, although I have to admit there were still some confusing scenes. For instance, when Liv wakes up in a dingy, rundown apartment with only a mattress on the floor for a bed, walls covered with writing, and the floor littered with empty caffeine drink containers, I had no idea how she rented or why and that part was never explained.

The most fascinating part of the story was the way Liv’s brain struggled, holding on to the trauma that created this type of amnesia for her. “Stay awake,” was a phrase she mumbled to herself over and over. She wrote it on her hand, so she would see it. She also wrote lots of other words on her hand, like “Don’t Trust the cops,” and “Don’t open the door.”

The way it came together in a climactic ending explained everything, the trauma that sent her brain into this Groundhog Day syndrome, the phrase “stay awake,” the obsession with a fleur de lise pattern, writing on her hands and arms—All of it made sense.

While I struggled with parts of the book, I gave it four stars. What a twisted tale!