Review of Second Life by S. J. Watson

Published: 12th February 2015
Publisher: Transworld
Pages: 432


She loves her husband. She’s obsessed by a stranger. She’s a devoted mother. She’s prepared to lose everything. She knows what she’s doing. She’s out of control. She’s innocent. She’s guilty as sin. She’s living two lives. She might lose both…


Thank you to Transworld for the review copy. I really enjoyed SJ’s previous novel, Before I Go To Sleep and to be completely honest, he’s the reason I’ve really started to enjoy reading thrillers. Fair warning: this will be a long review because I absolutely LOVED this book! I have 5 pages on notes so…

The opening chapter reveals that the main character, Julia is visiting an art gallery for the first time in years. It was a simple start and had the possibility to go in pretty much ANY direction. At the end of the first chapter, a piece of bad news in delivered to Julia in regards to her sister, but does that mean no more arguing about who brings up Connor? I will explain that Connor is Julia’s nephew, not her son. She treats him like a son and they call one another mum/son but a couple of times, it wasn’t made crystal clear in the very early chapters.

“I worry because he’s not mine.”

At the end of Part One, Julia senses that something is going to happen, that a certain online site will help her discover more about her sister. I wondered whether solving the puzzle by herself would do her any good – if it would make her turn back to drinking or not? In Part Two, the name Marcus continually crops up – who he is and what does he have to do with Julia’s life?

As I continued to be swept away by SJ’s incredible writing, I hoped that the awareness of talking online to strangers would shine through and it certainly did. Julia’s desire to meet this man from the Internet was strong and when he admitted to needing to tell her something, I had an incline that it wasn’t anything to do with the mystery. SJ certainly doesn’t make his plots easy to workout, that’s for definite!

“All along, from the very beginning, this is what it’d been about.” 

As the plot develops and Julia visits hotel rooms a lot, it becomes clearer that perhaps she is the one who is having the second life, rather than her sister. Julia is no angel with a drink and drug addiction, lies and much more, which I refuse to type in case some people see it as a spoiler..

“They are red, and look angry. The skin on their periphery is purpling.”

The man Julia meets online was meant to be a little bit of fun, but as I drew closer to the halfway mark, I started to not like him. He was a creep! The third part of the plot ended with a rush of fear, fright and anxiety. I was scared  for Julia. Part Four began with a celebration, a shock and a very  heated argument in the car. It was electric, powerful and I just absorbed the words.

“I guess sometimes it’s not so much about how long you’ve known someone, but about what you’ve been through together.” 

SJ writes with such wonderful imagery and it was as if I were watching Julia’s life rather than reading it. The only aspect which I thought didn’t fit well into the plot was in regards to Julia’s husband Hugh – he had a bit of a tough time at work in regards to someone not being happy about an operation. I thought it had no connection to the whole mystery…

“I can’t shake the feeling that something dreadful is happening…”

The final part of the book was all about whether Julia would receive the answers she’d been hoping for. It was fast paced, action packed, truth-telling and a “what the hell” kind of ending… It was a world-class of a thriller and a definite favourite of 2015 for certain! Bravo Mr Watson, bravo!

Twitter: @SJ_Watson
Website: http://www.sjwatson-books.com


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