Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: August 9, 2022
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.
In the vein of SJ Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep and Christopher Nolan’s cult classic Memento, Megan Goldin’s Stay Awake is an electrifying novel that plays with memory and murder.
Stay Awake follows Liv as she wakes up with no memory and strange messages written on her hands. Liv is thrust into a world she doesn’t remember and a significant portion of her memory missing as she tries to navigate a vastly different world than she remembers all while on the run attempting to prove she’s not responsible for a crime she doesn’t remember committing.
Stay Awake is told from two perspectives, Liv and a detective Halliday. These two perspectives are easily the best aspect of the novel. Liv’s chapters are told from the first person, while Halliday’s chapters are told from the third person. Liv’s chapters are almost chaotic with a hint of stream of consciousness as Liv tries to navigate her present with out of date information. Halliday’s chapters mimic a police procedural as her and her partner investigate a murder. These vastly different perspectives offer readers different views of the same story while ratcheting up the tension.
Despite Goldin’s switching narrator perspective, the resolution of the mystery quickly became obvious. The climax lacked tension and its resolution was eye roll worthy.
Stay Awake’s root idea is a good one, however the nature of the story and its resolution is obvious meaning the tension gained from the unreliable narrator fizzles out quickly.
Overall, Stay Awake has an interesting enough premise with well written and alternating perspectives but falls flat with its obvious resolution.
*** I received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Will you be reading Stay Awake?