For quite a while, I was indecisive about whether to read this novel or not as I’d seen quite a divide in the reviews. However, I ending up giving it a go, and I completely understand the divide. So let’s see how I fared…
Mike and Verity have a special game. The Crave.
They play it to prove what they already know: that Verity loves Mike. That she needs Mike.
Even though she’s marrying another man.
Now Mike knows that the stakes of their private game are rising.
This time, someone has to die…
I’ve seen a few people saying this novel kept them guessing until the last page – well, it kept me guessing beyond the last page! Our Kind of Cruelty is told from Mike’s perspective, which I found refreshing because I don’t think nearly enough psychological thrillers are told from the male perspective. Through its narration, this novel completely shattered the lines between truth and perception. I kept thinking Mike was straight-up delusional, and I was craving a chapter from Verity so I could gain a little clarity. Even after finishing this novel, I still can’t see the truth through the obsession.
This novel did get better as it progressed; in the beginning, I didn’t get any creepy, twisted vibes from Mike, I just pitied him his obsession and how it ruled his life. Also, the first half of the novel felt repetitive and I began to wonder when something was going to happen to drive this plot forward. After finishing this novel, I’m still indecisive about my thoughts on Verity, while you get to hear from her, I wish we had a chance to hear her inner monologue, like we do with Mike.
After reading Hall’s motivations for writing this novel, I can see how she portrayed all that she set out to, how within this twisted story are important messaging that are very valid in our society. The issue is, I wasn’t able to see them while reading, therefore, much of the plot’s intelligence was lost of me. But, when I reflect back, I can see clearly how Hall displayed certain things in relation to the portrayal of women in society.
Arguably, you want to see the cleverness of a novel while you’re reading it. So, while this novel goes into the category of books I liked more after reading the Afterword, I’m still in limbo on my overall thoughts, and I think that’s where I’m going to remain. There was a lot I enjoyed about this novel, it is dark and twisted and showcases a love that has become a dangerous obsession. However, there was so much, too much, unanswered. I guess, kudos to the author because I’ve certainly stayed thinking about this one, but dammit to finishing a novel but still feeling like I haven’t finished it, because this is one novel where you really want to know!
While I found this novel very readable, I’m so conflicted when it comes to recommending it; it was a desire to know the truth from the perception that kept me turning pages. So, in that sense, the psychological pull was strong. I’m aware this probably reads more like a rambling than a review, but Our Kind of Cruelty is a strange tale, dark in nature for sure, and probably best suited to fans of character studies.
Just a little something else I found interesting in the Afterword:
Hall teaches a creative writing class, and when she asks her students which genre they are writing in, very few say psychological thriller/crime – the majority say literary fiction. To which Hall says:
“whichever genre they’re occupying, they’re all writing a psychological thriller because isn’t that what compelling literature is? In my opinion all novels begin with character, and believable characters must be fully formed to feel real – which is, of course, psychology. And we create stories by putting these characters into challenging situations, otherwise why would anyone want to read the book? And that is thrilling.”
After reading that, I thought about all the fictional books, across different genres, I have read, and I saw the truth of Hall’s words. So next time you meet someone who says they don’t read psychological thrillers, you can explain to them, that if they read compelling literature, fiction from any genre, then actually, they do!