Book Review- Penance

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Title- Penance
Author- Kanae Minato
Published- April 6th 2017
Genre- Crime, mystery, thriller
Length- 240 pages
Rating- 3.5/5
Synopsis (Amazon)- When a group of young girls are approached by a stranger, they cannot know that the encounter will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

Hours later, Emily is dead. The surviving girls alone can identify the killer. But not one of them remembers his face…

Driven mad by grief, the victim’s mother demands the girls find the murderer or else atone for their crimes. If they do neither, she will have her revenge. She will make them pay…

Review- I received an ARC of this from the publisher so thank you to them.

The story is told by five people, the four young girls who were with Emily the day she died, who are now adults, and Emily’s mother. The way the accounts of these five people are written is very unnatural and feels forced. Each one of them is talking to someone in one way or another, in writing, in a speech etc. Much of what they say in these accounts people  just wouldn’t say in some of the situations they are in, it would be better if the accounts were told in some other format.

The stories of each individual character following the murder are largely unrealistic. Some of what happened is believable but the four girls all having such significant events in their later lives just doesn’t seem likely. The point seems to be to show that murder has a lasting impact on all those involved but I think it was over the top. The first two accounts also go over one aspect of the story in a very similar way, it is basically like reading the same story twice, it was boring. The other accounts give more of a varied perspective however, the third was the most interesting in my opinion.

As kids the characters were interesting enough and the descriptions made me think back to what school was like at that age. I didn’t really feel anything for most of the characters once they were adults however, one yes, but the others not really. The description of this character’s feelings/fears doesn’t really match with her actions but her part of the story was interesting enough that it is easy to overlook this.

I thought it was reasonably obvious who the murderer was well before it was actually said.  The reason for the crime only comes to light later on however, and on the one hand the reason for it is “understandable”(if you are twisted) but elsewhere in the book the character shows no signs of being the type of person capable of committing that kind of crime. Perhaps this was done to try and stop people guessing who it was but for me it just makes the story unrealistic.

I didn’t really feel any closure after finishing this book. Yes you find out who the murderer was, why people had done certain things and how each character turned out but it just didn’t feel right at the end. I think this is probably because each girl is dealt with in their own chunk of the book so you are mostly finished with certain main characters early on. The very end comes back to them a little but not really in a big way. Usually in books like this everything comes to the big conclusion at the end, there aren’t multiple major conclusions throughout. The last couple of sentences also seem out of place. They are just descriptive but no where else in the book has that kind of description been used so it feels forced.

Despite the above, the story is ok, it is more the way it is written that causes the problems. Although unrealistic, what happens with some of the girls is interesting and the impact of the murder on everyone is important. Significant events happening at a young age or events as significant as murder happening at any time in your life really do have a lasting impact, even in that situation yourself you might not realise the damage it does.

Overall this is a quick and easy read and if you like a bit of drama and don’t mind things being a bit far fetched then you would probably enjoy it.

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