Here’s another one to add to the list of highly hyped books that didn’t do much for me. I kept hearing about Sadie by Courtney Summers, so I decided to give it a shot even though I don’t usually read thrillers. I’m the sort of reader who will read anything that comes with a good recommendation. Thrillers aren’t my favorite, but I’m certainly not opposed to reading the good ones (like the rest of the world, I loved Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train). Unfortunately, for me, Sadie doesn’t live up to its reputation.
What’s it about?
Sadie’s younger sister Mattie was brutally murdered, and now Sadie is missing, too. When Sadie and Mattie’s story comes to the attention of West McCray, a popular radio host, West starts his own investigation. Sadie alternates between Sadie’s first person POV, in which she chases after Mattie’s killer, and transcripts from West’s podcast The Girls, in which he chases after Sadie.
What’d I think?
Sadie is actually a decent book. It just never fully grabbed my attention. I think the main problem is that the two storylines are too similar. Instead of using both POVs to reveal a wider picture, the novel repeats itself. West discovers Sadie’s trail in almost exactly the same order as Sadie leaves it. Very rarely do we learn anything new with West; it is almost all retreading old ground that we’ve already seen through Sadie’s eyes.
And yet, strangely, West’s side of the story is more compelling. It shouldn’t be that way. Sadie is heartbroken, deeply traumatized, and bent on revenge. West is interested but as impartial as it’s possible to get with a story like this. Despite this, for some reason, Sadie’s voice falls flat for me. I could never fully feel what she was feeling. Somehow, hearing her story secondhand hit me harder. Maybe it’s because Sadie’s narration tries so hard. The insights into Sadie’s fractured psyche feel forced, and I found it much easier to empathize with a little distance.
It’s also helpful that West interacts with more with the major presences in Sadie’s life, and Sadie’s interactions—almost without exception—boil down to either threatening someone with a knife or inexplicably starting a flirtation. I don’t know. Neither Sadie the novel and Sadie the character particularly speaks to me.
What’s the verdict?
Sadie is a pretty good book. It deals with some extremely dark subject matter—abuse, murder, pedophilia, revenge, violence—so it’s not a cheery read. Although the writing is pretty good, as a whole the novel repeats itself too much, and I closed the book feeling unfulfilled by the ending. Thrillers aren’t my genre of choice (though I do like them occasionally), and that may have contributed to my lackluster response to a novel that has so many fans, but in the end Sadie did nothing to change my opinion of the genre in general. Report card: C