Digital Reads Reviews

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It's One of Us by J. T. Ellison

Digital Reads Reviews is a blog-haven for book posts and reviews. This is a review of of a suspenseful thriller, It's One of Us.
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Publication Date: February 2023

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Everybody lies. Even the ones you think you know best of all . . .
Olivia Bender designs exquisite home interiors that satisfy the most demanding clients. But her own deepest desire can’t be fulfilled by marble counters or the perfect rug. She desperately  wants to be a mother. Fertility treatments and IVF keep failing. And just when she feels she’s at her lowest point, the police deliver shocking news to Olivia and her husband, Park.
DNA results show that the prime suspect in a murder investigation is Park’s son. Olivia is relieved, knowing this is a mistake. Despite their desire, the Benders don’t have any children. Then comes the confession. Many years ago, Park donated sperm to a clinic. He has no idea how many times it was sold—or how many children he has sired.
As the murder investigation goes deeper, more terrible truths come to light. With every revelation, Olivia must face the unthinkable. The man she married has fathered a killer. But can she hold that against him when she keeps such dark secrets of her own?

My Review

What was it all about

It’s One of Us by J. T. Ellison was a suspenseful thriller that caused my heart to thump with the premise of the story. A woman who had undergone years of infertility treatment and a supposedly supportive husband soon found the cops knocking at his door. 

A suspect in a woman’s murder and there was a DNA match. With her husband. No. No. He was not the murderer, but his supposed son was. That caused Olivia to spiral downward, especially when this message came just moments after her miscarriage. 

Then came the confession of sperm donation by the husband years ago and his having 28+ kids and still counting when she couldn’t even have one. 

The story was a psychological thriller where Olivia needed to traverse the minefield that her life had become when more secrets came to life. 

The book could have been better if it had veered more toward suspense rather than family drama and scenes from the past. 

The title, for me, was a bit misleading because we knew the relationship of the killer to the main characters and later on, the name. So it certainly was one of them, but no suspense about it. 

The Hook

Trigger Warnings: Infertility and the pain associated with losing children in utero, miscarriages and abortion.

For me, the compelling hook was to find out the identity of the murderer. But once I got to know that truth, I didn’t have much to look forward to, other than see the journey to the end. 

The Characters

I felt sad for Olivia and had a lot of empathy for her. I could understand why she wanted to flee her husband when truths came flying at her along with the reporters who had smelled the scent of a good story on them. 

But I couldn’t seem to connect with her. But then again, in a thriller, I didn’t have to connect with her, but just see the world spiral into the darkness around her. 

Ah, I didn’t care much for the husband because he would hurt his wife, then think – oh, I shouldn’t have done that – yet hurt her again. Then suddenly shift his love and attention to the side characters. I felt he had the psycho gene in him. No wonder one of his children was the killer. 

The best friend and sister-in-law and old love were great up until two-thirds of the book when they gave the vibe of weirdness from them. I couldn’t feel the genuine warmth wafting from them. 

The Intricacies

The plot was twisty, to begin with, but somewhere down the line, it became too unbelievable and my mind was not convinced. I meant, I knew I was reading a book, and the characters were not real. So no gasps from him, just an – Oh, hmm – and the page would turn. 

The theme started with a cunning plot arc, then filtered down to basically just an obsession. (I was not sure if this was a spoiler) Even after finishing the book, I didn’t know why the killer kidnapped and raped women, based on some words on a Facebook group. Everyone knew most people were fake out there. 

But well, the book had to go on, and the author chose this path to further the plot line. The ending was shocking, but I could guess that there would be a secret popping up since the rest of the book was lukewarm. 

The Setting

The book was enveloped with the aura of a family drama. I wished there was more of suspense in it. It started out being a four-star read but dwindled to a three-star. 

The Pace

Once the name of the killer was revealed, the book lost its momentum. An attempt was made to gain it at the end, but it just felt fascinatingly weird. It was fascinating but gave off a weird vibe too. 

I wanted the book to be more fast-paced than what I was given. 

The style of writing - The Prose

The author’s afterwords explained the reason for writing the book with the backdrop of infertility. Those scenes would have made a good women’s fiction but as a psychological thriller, it needed to play with my mind a bit more. 

The suspense was missing after the reveal of the killer’s name. And the motive too didn’t feel convincing. I would read the next book by this author, but just not with the same level of enthusiasm. 

How it made me feel - The Good

It was a roller coaster right till midway through the book, when it started spluttering and walking on roads that didn’t feel convincing. With the POVs of the main characters in the beginning, the book suddenly had side characters and the killer jumping into the chapters. 

It was not confusing, but not intriguing. I liked the book but didn’t enjoy it to the level of four stars. 

Do I recommend this book?

If you get it from the library, go for it. The premise and plot line were filled with so many possibilities. But buying the book for holding a special place on your bookshelf, I thought not.

I received the paperback version of the book from my friend, and this is my journey down its pages, straight from the heart. STRICTLY HONEST and UNBIASED.

If you’ve loved the review, buy me a cuppa to perk me up.

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