Book Review: Her by Harriet Lane

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I’m going to keep this review short and (not so) sweet because mama always said, if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all. And as much as I hate to give a bad book review, I don’t have anything good to say about Her by Harriet Lane.

Her is a psychological thriller about two women, one of whom has no memory of the other which I see now as an indication of how pointless the other’s grudge is. The women happen upon each other one day, and that’s when things begin to unravel. Kind of. The revenge plot of this novel is extremely weak. It is anticlimactic and holds no weight whatsoever. Maybe if the character in question, the woman seeking revenge, was better developed or there was a very specific reason why she is so petty I’d be able to attempt to get on board. But, in all honesty, the plot is just silly.

With that being said, there are a bunch of tiny, insignificant events that are supposed to generate suspense and lead up to the final twist, or the reveal. Therefore, this book is merely a lot of waiting. We wait, wait, wait for the drama that is surely just around the corner only to be shorthanded at every turn. Increasing the tediousness of this book is the fact that each chapter alternates between points of view; one chapter is from Emma’s voice, and the next is from Nina’s. Many authors successfully utilize multiple perspectives in a story, but Lane seems to have gotten it all wrong. First of all, there is the issue of nothing of any real importance happening within either woman’s perspective chapters. Secondly, the reader has to experience the same scenes, the same events, twice: once from Emma’s point of view and once from Nina’s. This might be interesting if there was any difference between the two points of view. Rather, each chapter is merely a retelling of the previous one only slightly truncated and with a bit more story tailing at the end…so that the next chapter can reiterate it. I can’t even say that I noticed a difference in which points of a particular scene mattered to Emma, versus what mattered to Nina.

Speaking of perspective, in terms of character the cast of Her is unlikeable and bland. The whole mood of the book is actually very depressing. As far as the two main characters go, I would have to say Emma is better developed than Nina. With Emma, there is some depth and a history, a past version of her that bares the difference between the now and then. Emma’s chapters may have been very “it’s all down hill from here,” but at least they made me feel something. Nina, on the other hand, felt as if she were hastily thrown together. Sure, she had a backstory. But it was all tell and no show-there was no feeling involved. The reader is plainly told the facts of Nina’s life because, otherwise, there would be no indication of why she does the things that she does.

Finally: the ending. To be excruciatingly blunt, the ending solidified the already suspected uselessness of the rest of the story. I understand open-ended endings and unhappy endings, but I’ve never experienced an ending like Her‘s. It’s as if Lane got tired of telling this story and simply quit.

All in all, when I turned the last page of Her I felt as though I had wasted both money and time. There are a few positive reviews on Goodreads and this book was recommended to me on Pinterest, so there are people out there enjoying it. For those of you who have read this book, are you on the positive or negative side? Is there something that I’m missing from the story? Anyone want to make an argument for the book?

Let’s discuss!


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