Thursday, May 16, 2019

If She Wakes

If She Wakes by Michael Koryta
Little, Brown and Company: 5/14/19
eBook review copy; 400 pages
ISBN-13: 9780316294003 

If She Wakes by Michael Koryta is a very highly recommended, fast-paced thriller.

Tara Beckley, a senior at Hammel College in Maine, is the contact person to drive visiting lecturer Amandi Oltamu  to the venue where he will give a presentation related to his work on batteries and solar panels. Tara, following Oltamu's request, has parked the car by a walking bridge when a van hits them, killing Oltamu and leaves Tara in a vegetative state. After the driver of the vehicle who hit them confesses, everyone assumes it was an accident, but Abby Kaplan, an insurance investigator, doesn't believe that is the case. As a former racer and stunt driver, Abby knows how cars behave at high speeds.

As Abby continues her investigation she gets Oltamu's phone which she hopes hold clues. Tara regains consciousness, but is a victim of locked-in syndrome, which means she's fully alert but unable to move or communicate. To further complicate matters a young killer, Dax Blackwell, has been hired to make sure Tara can never say what happened, silence Abby, and get Oltamu's phone.

This is an tension-filled, exciting, fast-paced thriller that will hold your attention from beginning to end. A high level of suspense is sustained throughout the novel and the cold, malevolent calculating actions of Dax increase the fear and make the dread palpable. The quality of the writing is excellent and the plot moves quickly as each chapter alternates between the points-of-view of different characters. The various plot threads all begin to weave together, which makes the suspense created by the complicated, dangerous plot even more heart-stopping.

All of the characters are well-developed and you will fiercely care about what happens to them. Koryta gives all of these these characters a backstory, making them realistic with their own fears and motivations. These are not unreliable characters. They feel as real as a close friend, so the situation they are in is heartbreaking and heart-stopping. Even with plot twists, that also feel believable, these characters continue to experience growth - even through the fear.

If I had one bit of doubt, it was Tara experiencing the locked-in syndrome and medical professionals not realizing it sooner. On the other hand, I am not a medical professional, so perhaps it is possible. A strong 4.5 rounded up.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Little, Brown and Company.

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