Tom is a successful author, but he’s struggling to finish his novel. His main distraction is an online admirer, Evie, who simply won’t leave him alone.
Evie is smart, well read and unstable; she lives with her father and her social-media friendships are not only her escape, but everything she has.
When she’s hit with a restraining order, her world is turned upside down, and Tom is free to live his life again, to concentrate on writing.
But things aren’t really adding up. For Tom is distracted but also addicted to his online relationships, and when they take a darker, more menacing turn, he feels powerless to change things. Because maybe he needs Evie more than he’s letting on.
A compulsive, disturbingly relevant, twisty and powerful psychological thriller, The Closer I Get is also a searing commentary on the fragility and insincerity of online relationships, and the danger that can lurk just one ‘like’ away…
First of all: massive thanks to Karen Sullivan and Orenda Books for gifting me a proof copy of The Closer I Get! Book post is the best post and surprise Orenda book post is the best book post! It always elicits this kind of high-pitched squeal from me that I’m sure has my neighbours running to their windows to find the stray piglet that’s obviously being mangled somewhere in the neighbourhood.
Piglets aside, I had my eye on this particular Orenda title and it was high up on my Orenda wishlist, so imagine my delight when I got the opportunity to read it months in advance, since the paperback isn’t out until July. The eBook however is out NOW, so if you need to feed that e-reader, check out the links below! But first, please allow me to tell you why you should add it to your ever-growing Mount TBR!
I would love to tell you that The Closer I Get is thought-provoking but that would be the understatement of the century. Good heavens, I cannot count the times I looked up from its pages to ponder its content, not on one hand, not on both hands, I’d probably need both feet as well. I mean, it’s a crazy thing, social media, isn’t it. I for one adore Twitter, I really do. I have found my people there. In the so-called real life, hardly anyone relates to my love for books, while on Twitter I have found so many like-minded souls with whom I chat almost daily, people who “get” me, some of whom I feel I know because I know their bookish tastes, because I know some of their character traits, because, like me, they have a furry friend they adore. Likewise I’m sure some of my digital friends think they know me. But do they really? They don’t witness me all grumpy when I get up in the morning and feel like I haven’t slept a wink although I slept for 8 hours straight, they don’t see me on my brain-foggy days when a “thanks for sharing” is about the most I can handle in terms of creative writing, they’re not here when I’m stressed, or sad, or hangry, because I’m not on Twitter in those moments. I may come across as someone who wears her heart on her sleeve, while actually, in that so-called real life, I often want to hide under a blankie and keep my heart hidden in my trouser pocket. You may think you know me because of my profile pic. But who’s to say I am who I tell you I am? I could be anyone! I could be a 54 year old lumberjack using a photo of his niece! I could have a silver beard in real life! I could weigh a ton, I could be 7 feet tall! For the record, I am exactly who I say I am. But how can you be sure?! Suffice it to say, The Closer I Get made me wonder about all that and lots more and it even made me a teensy bit paranoid. Okay I lie, it made me very paranoid.
The Closer I Get didn’t only make me a paranoid android when it came to Twitter, I was wary of all the characters too. There’s Evie. She’s in her mid-thirties, single, smart, a very opinionated blogger not afraid to cook up a Twitter storm, proud of being blocked left right and centre because she sees blocking a person as an admission of defeat. We’re clearly meant to see Evie as the bad guy here, I mean, she is the stalker and stalking is bad. But. Is she really? Is she all bad? Perhaps she’s not quite right in the head, and that wouldn’t be her fault, would it? Or maybe she simply got the wrong end of the stick, and misinterpreted certain signals Tom might have given her. Because Tom? I was almost as wary of him as I was of Evie. He behaves kind of strange, he comes across as rather arrogant, and I really didn’t trust him all that much. I do love it when authors write about authors. It always makes me wonder how much of the story is autobiographical. A third character I was wary of was Emma, a close friend of Tom’s, but how close are they really? There seems to be some tension between them, part of which seems to be sexual, which felt a bit odd since Tom is gay, and I mean “odd” in the sense that I felt that Tom might be taking advantage of a vulnerable woman, or at least has some sort of ulterior motive, or maybe Emma does. In a nutshell: I was looking very askance at about every character (except Colin, I loved Colin, let’s hear it for Colin!).
What does Evie know about Tom, what is Tom hiding, with every raised question more burning than the one before, with every chapter more intriguing than the former, the plot thickens and the finale came as quite a shock. It had me going back to the previous chapter and rereading it to see if I’d maybe misunderstood something. I hadn’t, ‘t was only Paul Burston, pulling the wool over my eyes.
Overall, a very entertaining novel, a well-written story that flows, gaining momentum along the way, keeping the reader absorbed, but what got to me most was the theme, the way Paul Burston made me think and ponder and wonder, pure genius. Highly recommended.