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An unusual storyline made for an interesting read. About orphaned sisters trying to make a life together, About too much technology in our world, About emptiness without God. I imagine the fictional band called Ferguson sounds like the real life band called the Fretless.
As much as I enjoyed aspects of “No One Knows Us Here”, it just didn’t tick every box for me.
The first thing that jumped out at me about this book is that it is set in and around Portland, Oregon. I think this made it the third book that I’ve read in the last year that was set in this area – the others being “The Family Bones” by Elle Marr and “No Place To Run” by Mark Edwards. While I’ve been to neighbouring Washington state, I’ve yet to go to Oregon. Thanks to these books, the ‘contents tourism‘ side of me is thinking that I should go one day. Perhaps it’s also a good place for authors, so that appeals to me since I write novels too.
There was much that I liked about this book. A lot of the storyline was interesting and the protagonist, particularly trying to appreciate their journey through it, was quite compelling. A few lines in relation to that that stood out for me were,
…his eyes were shooting sparks, and for a moment I let myself think it was all because of me, that I’d awakened him somehow, given him a reason to feel alive. I knew I should stop this line of thinking because, god! How narcissistic could I possibly get?
France didn’t agree with me.
I can relate to this one. Well, technically, for me, it’s more about Paris than France.
I found the idea that the protagonist ‘pretended to go to work like a laid-off Japanese businessman’ interesting due to my work on Japan. I wasn’t aware that this was something that, without any additional detail, is well-known enough that it can be referred to in a non-Japanese novel. Perhaps it’s something that will need discussing in my update to the book “Japan: The Basics” – particularly given that that book challenges how we see Japan as different (a character in the film “The Full Monty” does the same thing, for example, so is the practice so unique to Japan as the phrase may suggest?).
Perhaps the one part of the book that made me stop and think the most were the following lines,
Do any of us understand the truth of our own lives, of the very best and worst that we’ve been through? Probably not. We all have our own filters, our own perceptions and misperceptions.
I find these words very relatable and understandable.
Given the above, why didn’t I give the book 5 stars? It was simply for the villain – there was nothing I could find interesting about him or anything that made him stand out from similar type characters in other stories (many of which I avoid as this type of character tends to be so dull and seemingly reliant on tropes). It wasn’t bad, just uninteresting, so the book lost a star for that and it made me a little less enthusiastic to read it. Having said that, it’s still a very good book and I did, overall, enjoy reading it.
It's an interesting concept, modern technology, its influence on our life, young socially awkward tech genius with interesting theory about love. Book started well and gripped me, but soon it started going downhill. It's a bit naive, i would say. Rosemary meets 'true love', despite being paid fiance of Leo, the tech genius. I put true love in comas because the description of it reminded me of Harlequin romanse. There's only physical attraction, quickly and strongly felt, but just that : physical attraction. I couldn't see love there. Styling the storyline as a memoir also failed at the end. Maybe if it was cleared from the beginning that this is someone writing down her story - it just doesn't sit right to be informed about it at the end. It's like the author couldn't think of a better ending.
With a foolish protagonist, a basic plot and a very protracted ending, this turned into just an average read. I was frustrated with Rosemary's attitude throughout and thought the writer could have done far more with making the plot suspenseful.
Quite often, I felt uncomfortable when reading this narrative. I could not believe how easily Rosemary is coerced into being Leo's fake girlfriend and how quickly she is submissive to his demands. Despite reminding herself that she is doing it to create a better life for her and her sister, I thought her choices were poor and obviously demonstrative of Leo's controlling tendencies. I wanted Rosemary to pause and question what she was doing, but her mantra that she signed up for this way of living was merely a weak way of justifying everything in her head. It didn't work for me.
What's more, I failed to believe that Rosemary had her sister's best interests at heart. She frequently abandons Wendy, even once they are living together, and I could not understand how Rosemary does not take a more proactive involvement in her younger sister's life. Although there are warning signs that something is not quite right, Rosemary buries her head in the sand, happily blaming her contract with Leo for her failings.
The technology referred to in this story was interesting. It is basically a wide-spread surveillance system that claims to be used for social media and dating. It made my skin crawl, especially as people around Rosemary seem to willingly accept this invasion of privacy. I thought Kelley could have done more with this element of the story, developing it further around Leo's sinister personality. Instead, it is more like an after thought and an added method of control over Rosemary.
I kept reading this book in the anticipation of some clever twists and turns. Yet, despite my wild theories throughout, these never materialised and this made me feel that the plot was significantly lacking in tension. Whilst considered as a thriller, I thought the plot was quite standard, even if the behaviours did make my toes curl. Furthermore, I thought the ending made the story to be too far-fetched for my liking and I thought the writer could have wrapped things up far more quickly. I was not interested in the court case and by this point, just wanted to see Rosemary's future decided.
This was an alright read but it did not set me alight. I was looking for a suspenseful narrative that would have me questioning the plot direction. Instead, I was questioning the sanity of the protagonist, wondering why Rosemary would allow herself to get into such ludicrous situations.
Imagine being paid to date Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg only to find out they’re stalking your every move through their technology and slowly eroding your personality until you’re almost the perfect one for them. This is a twisted take on stalking, harassment, mental abuse, gaslighting and controlling behaviour that will leave you wanting to reach into the book and smash the guy in the face yourself. A really solid read
Reading Rebecca Kelley's book "No One Knows Us Here," was a slow burn experience for me. I empathized right away with protagonist Rosemary, who had dreams of being a lawyer, but was in the throes of a very challenging financial struggle - working retail, studying for LSATs, and literally living in a closet in an apartment shared by four roommates. Things got even more complicated when her younger half-sister, Wendy, showed up and wanted to move in with her. Rosemary and Wendy's parents were dead, so Wendy was living with her grandmother, but was miserable there. She even attempted suicide, forcing Rosemary to desperate measures to try to earn enough money to get a separate apartment and be able to support herself and her little sister. Her first choice was so repulsive that I thought I would have to stop reading the book, but Rosemary couldn't go through with it, so I kept reading. The real drama started when Rosemary was courted by Leo Glass, a famous (but unknown to Rosemary) technological entrepreneur, who wanted to hire Rosemary to be his "girlfriend." He would provide a wonderful apartment for Wendy and Rosemary, and he would not live there. In addition, he would pay her $6000 per month. They wouldn't see each other that much, just for public appearances and whenever he returned home from his world travels for business. Ironically, Rosemary met her next-door neighbor in the new apartment building and developed feelings for him, but had to reject him to continue to collect on Leo's offer. Leo turned out to be a world class creep. He was controlling, cruel, and demanding. He spied on her constantly through the software programs he developed for street cameras and unique next generation smart phones. Although not often, their arrangement did include sexual privileges, and that is where his worst instincts played out. Unfortunately for Leo, his violating behaviors reminded Rosemary of her long-repressed hatred for her stepfather, who had raped her for years. In the past, she had fantasized about having killed him, and the urges returned with a vengeance when Rosemary found out he had raped Wendy, too. Will Leo go too far? What will Rosemary do to stop him? I raced through the final chapters to find out.
This was an easy read for me. Kinda thought the relationship between Rosemary and Sam was rushed a bit. The distance between Rosemary and Wendy at the start makes it much easier to understand why Rosemary easily commits to her job and justifies being gone all the time (which is something I found a little unbelievable as an older sister myself, but when I put myself in her place and imagined the dynamic it clicked a bit easier for me). I did find it a bit annoying that she continued to play along with Leo later in the book especially where Wendy was concerned. I kept wondering (and shouting at Rosemary mentally!!), why Rosemary didn’t just ditch Leo and stay with Sam in his free apartment next door until she figured things out! With their intense connection, I can’t imagine why Sam would refuse Rosemary. I bet he would have been super encouraging to her to go back to school and she doesn’t seem to be the kind of gal to mooch off of him. I imagine she’d balance working PT and doing everything she could to earn her and Wendy’s keep while studying for law school (including keeping Sam happy!). Anyways, I still couldn’t put this one down despite everything. Love the way Rebecca Kelley writes.
Fast paced, a bit gruesome in places but overall a very good read. Tackles lots of the issues of right now head on and some fictional characters that accurately portray the flawed characteristics of some recognisable real life individuals. With misogyny such a hot topic this novel is very much of the moment.