AND THEN IT GOT BETTER
This book did not grab me from the very first page. The voice of the narrator grated on me at the beginning, the noirisms coming a bit too fast and thick for my taste. I was ready to declare it Not For Me if my brows had to rise any higher. Thankfully, the tone settles down and the action picks up towards the second and third chapters, and I didn't have much problem with it the rest of the book. My brain skipped over most of the San Francisco geography because I'm not familiar with the area, but it did lend just enough local color without going overboard.
It was a fast read for me, only a few hours. As I hit the halfway point and all the threads started drawing together, I couldn't put it down--since it's an e-book, that means I barely checked Twitter and saved all incoming links to read later, a thing that is rare for my Internet attention span. The pacing of the book was pitch-perfect; Sawyer really shows his talent for the landslide finish. Since I'm better acquainted with the hydra-headed third-person-limited POV of his other book PREDESTINATION AND OTHER GAMES OF CHANCE, it was interesting to experience the tight first-person POV of AND THEN SHE WAS GONE. In some ways this choice of POV is limiting, as only the protagonist is given much chance to exposit and the antagonist/s's motivations and the effects of their actions on secondary characters are mostly unclear or thinly explored: but unreliable narrator's privilege may be a function of the genre.
I wasn't left guessing 'til the end, but that was okay. I figured out one key plot point 30 pages before the protagonist, and another about 10 pages early. Probably because the groundwork reminded me of two other stories, which I can't actually mention here to avoid spoilers. Other twists were definitely a surprise. Despite the tense and sometimes gruesome plot, I actually laughed out loud at several points, and there are a few subtle easter eggs for podcasting and science fiction fans.
All in all, it was a very entertaining read, and I recommend it to fans of mysteries and thrillers. I imagine it would come especially in handy on trains, airplanes, road trips where someone else is driving, or appointments you are stuck waiting for--I certainly forgot my surroundings while reading it.
This book was a real treat. At less than 200 pages, I breezed through it in a few hours, my attention completely focused on it the whole time I was reading. The pace is perfect—as soon as Libby thinks she might have a handle on her life, something crashes and she is forced to reevaluate and find a solution. I had to keep turning pages to find out what would happen next, and I really came to care about the characters by the end. The only thing that was a little confusing was the time jumps between some chapters; it sometimes took me a few pages to realize that there was a gap of several months since the previous events.