Liv Reese wakes up in the back of a taxi with no idea where she is or how she got there.
When she’s dropped off at the door of her brownstone, a stranger answers―a stranger who now lives in her apartment and forces her out in the cold.
She reaches for her phone to call for help, only to discover it’s missing, and in its place is a bloodstained knife.
That’s when she sees that her hands are covered in black pen, scribbled messages like graffiti on her skin: STAY AWAKE.
Two years ago, Liv was living with her best friend, dating a new man, and thriving as a successful writer for a trendy magazine.
Now, she’s lost and disoriented in a New York City that looks nothing like what she remembers.
Catching a glimpse of the local news, she’s horrified to see reports of a crime scene where the victim’s blood has been used to scrawl a message across a window, the same message that’s inked on her hands.
What did she do last night?
And why does she remember nothing from the past two years?
Liv finds herself on the run for a crime she doesn’t remember committing as she tries to piece together the fragments of her life.
But there’s someone who does know exactly what she did, and they’ll do anything to make her forget―permanently.
What was it all about
Stay Awake by Megan Goldin was indeed one twister of a thriller in its concept. In this, the author swirled the story around an amnesiac main character.
The entire book was one tornado of scenes were the winds of unknown kept blowing around Liv, nearly displacing her from the roots.
Liv woke up in the back of the cab with a roll of bills in her pocket but no phone or purse, instead there was a bloody knife wrapped in a t-shirt.
And she remembered nothing. Well, not exactly nothing about how she got to this point. The last she remembered was picking up the phone on her desk at her job with the high-culture magazine.
Looking down for some clues, she found graffiti on her hands, right up to the elbows, of her scribbles, some asking her to STAY AWAKE, others beseeching her to not trust anyone, along with a phone number on the palm.
Lost and afraid of losing her mind, she looked around NYC just to find, nothing seemed familiar to her. Everything seemed to have changed.
Two years had passed, and she remembered nothing of them.
Her cup of woes overflowed right at this point. Across the city, a murder had occurred where the victim had been stabbed, and a message had been scrawled across the window pane with blood. STAY AWAKE.
The local news soon circulated her picture as the main suspect.
On the run, and not knowing whom to trust, since her brain had gone wonky, she knew only one thing. Someone was out to get her and make her STAY ASLEEP FOREVER.
OMG. What a lone figure the author carved out for Liv, where she had to constantly scramble to try to find some logic.
Complex were her life situations where her trust had been misplaced and misused in the past.
I liked Liz’s determination and could empathize with her panicky feeling where instincts took over before her brain.
Being a creative writer, and now an amnesiac, I understood the moments when Liz preferred to flee rather than try to ask the truth from strangers. Remember, she didn’t recollect anyone’s names or faces.
A subject too intricate where so many timelines and subplots had to be fleshed out. The author managed to add quite a few interesting ones but therein lay the problem.
When you had too many, one or two thread would be left on the side. That happened in this book too.
The book became too intricate where the main plot line of amnesia had be written while giving me the details of what had happened in her life. Liz didn’t remember any, but as a reader, to understand her, I needed to be given some facts.
So I thought the author had taken a difficult concept and tried her best to give us enough of both.
A city that had changed in the lost years for Liz, though I didn’t get the feel that things had changed so much that she couldn’t recognize the city.
More worldbuilding and descriptions of the setting would have helped to see the city from Liz’s eyes.
The author built the story within the same few places which were the same for Liz in both timelines.
How it made me feel - The Good
I was tres excited by the concept as I enjoyed the feel of an amnesiac woman trying to find her way, get to know her old past, assimilate the recent past, and try to make something of her present.
Pockets of thrill were written into the subplots where most times, Liz was moving one step ahead and two steps back. It was quite exciting to see her try to make sense.
The atmosphere of paranoia and claustrophobia helped to add a layer to the story.
What I didn't like - The Bad
Too many repetitive lines, where the prose was rambling on and on and the story went nowhere. The timeline jumps needed a bit more concentration to understand how Liz came to this situation.
Glaring plot holes and main subplots were forgotten, which made me feel that the author couldn’t stay awake to check her own writing. Whatever happened to that stalker? or the creepy art guy?
The dialogues were quite inane; crispness was lost. Stating the obvious did not make a subplot.
To boot, the main character was not very intelligent. Liz knew that she couldn’t remember anything when she slept off. She wrote all kinds of warnings on her hands, but nothing of importance. Her sense of preservation never worked. She moved around the city like a headless chook.
Till the very end, I didn’t know why the perp had committed the first crime. The ending was quite rushed.
Heard the sample of the audiobook. The narrator Imogen Church was not good at all. So I was glad I was gifted the ebook.
The concept of the story was excellent. Something like Groundhog Day. But with a perp on the loose wanting to kill the main character.
The complexity of the situation where the author had to tell us the incidents of the past and the recent past and the police investigation. It was difficult, and I felt Megan Goldin had tried her best to show us all angles of Liz’s life.
Do I recommend this book?
Yes. I would still recommend STAY AWAKE for the concept and the complexities of writing such a book which would be difficult for a seasoned thriller author too.
But maybe the book could be borrowed from the library or bought in thrift shop/sale, rather than buying outright at its full price.
I downloaded the digital version of the book from an online retail, and this is my journey down its pages, straight from the heart. STRICTLY HONEST and UNBIASED.
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