Tension Fails | Books From the Last Year That Failed to Keep Me on the Edge of My Seat

Mystery and Thriller are types of books that I gravitate towards a lot. I love the idea of trying to figure out what’s going on and what actually happened and who the culprit is. Add in thriller aspects and you tend to get a great read. Or at least a great premise that may or may not be executed well.

These books, for whatever reason, did not quite make the cut for me to get really engrossed and failed to bring the tension that I tend to like in mystery and thrillers.

The Books

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

This was my first Grady Hendrix book. I got really excited when someone, somewhere touted it as perfect for fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Which I found to be kind of true? This is actually more about looking at 1990’s suburbia in the south, particularly the moms and wives and all they had to deal with, through the lens of light horror. They’re definitely badass, but I was expecting a different kind of badass. Which is definitely reader preference. I just kept waiting for the tension to increase.

I still enjoyed Hendrix’s writing and there is definitely an audience for this one.

I Told You This Would Happen by Elaine Murphy

So, I did not realize that there was a first book. So keep that in mind although I had no problem keeping things straight. I picked it up because of the blurb (and the cover) and was really intrigued. I really felt the tension in the first several chapters. However, one of the plot points that happens, I felt it happened too early because once it did, poof. The tension was no longer there.

I liked Murphy’s writing though once that tension was gone, I didn’t feel engrossed in the story as much.

Find You In The Dark by Nathan Ripley

This one was just a let down. I just wanted this to be so much more. For me, a good thriller novel is one that keeps me hooked into the story, not wanting to stop reading. This book didn’t quite hit the mark on that aspect for me. I did find Martin to be a character with a few unique aspects and Ripley’s writing was good though not great.

The book was just good enough to keep me interested trough the end. This one just didn’t quite hit the mark for me.

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

This was slow paced novel for me; some of the tension that I expected, wasn’t there or it fell flat. The story really feels more like a character analysis into our MC Mariana through the lens of her trying to solve a murder and protect her niece. Like another review stated, there were a lot of red herrings in the story, to the point where many characters or plot points were left underdeveloped. Including the secret society, which ended up not being an interesting piece at all, mainly because it was left underdeveloped. I did like the few chapters we got as letters from an unknown man. Even though the twist was unexpected – it still felt a little out of left field; and even when it was staring Mariana in the face, she still doesn’t see it and by that point I kind of stopped rooting for her.

Survive the Night by Riley Sager

I was really intrigued with the premise for this one .. a possible serial killer our MC is stuck in the car with in a time before cell phones. The first half of the book was nothing but great tension. I kept going back and forth on who Josh might be. However, roughly the second half is when another character comes in and does something quite out of left field, at least for me. From there, the tension took a nosedive and me reading was more to find out what exactly is going on. I think the twist that happened in the beginning of the second half could have been executed a little better. The second half is also where some other twists became easier to figure out before they happened. Not too bad, but I’ve read better mystery/thrillers.

The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

This book was just weird and not in an interesting way. I definitely didn’t love it but I don’t quite hate it either. It definitely had some light tension in the beginning, but the weirdness overtook that. Unfortunately, I think this book was trying to be too many things. Starling’s writing is good, but still didn’t really suck me in or set the atmosphere well enough for me. The small romance aspect of the book didn’t feel right, no matter what era this is supposed to be in, but particularly of how Jane is written/described to be. The book also gets lost in its own craziness a little, with all the explanations of the logic, math, and magic. Unfortunately, that bogs the story down and made me skim many of those parts. This book may end up being for some readers, but I ended up not being one of them.


what books were tension fails for you?
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9 thoughts on “Tension Fails | Books From the Last Year That Failed to Keep Me on the Edge of My Seat

  1. I agree the second part of survive the night was quite everywhere- so many twists in all different ways!! I did enjoy it though.

    My first Grady Hendrix novel had been the final girl support group.. and same. The first part was sooo long and boring- the last part when things happened was quite nice, but gosh I hate long first parts..

    Liked by 1 person

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