Promise Me - Harlan Coben
I'll be honest: It took me a long time to start to get interested in this novel. However I think there are quite a few reasons for that. I initially started reading this book because, it being right after me moving out of state, this was literally the sole book I had in the house, everything still being packed up in boxes up north and needing to be sent down here. That being said, I don't even know how my mother got her hands on this one, but it was there, sitting in her bathroom, and I was dying to read something. Thus, I picked this bad boy up, and after a couple of days on sitting on it (not literally), I finally began reading it.

Because this book is apparently the eighth-- yes, I said the eighth-- in this series, there was a casualness about the method of the author in bringing the story into swing. It started off comfortable and slow, and since the author himself mentioned that he'd picked up this series after a long time away from this particular character and storyline, I can't blame him for the way he began. I myself usually pick up my writing after long breaks in much the same manner. That being said though, this book-- for the first hundred pages or so-- was meant more for the fans that already knew the characters and scenarios I believe. Some things were a little hard to follow. Some things weren't explained at all. But that's what you get for coming into a series eight books in. I can only blame my own lack of potential interest in these first hundred-or-so pages on that. I can't judge the author on it, and so I won't.

All this being said, this book had its ups and downs. Let's take care of the plot for starters. I like the fact that the plot kept you reading, but there was a difference in the eagerness with which I read it than I do other books in similar or the same genre. (At least those that I have read up until now.) I read it because there were many stalemates and questions left continuously unanswered. Various tidbits planted at the beginning of the book showed up throughout the novel whenever a change of direction or a boost forward was needed. But even when everything was said and done, there were always questions, all the way up until the end. Now don't get me wrong! This is the formula to a very healthy suspense novel! I think what threw me off was that so many of the things going on around the actual suspense part all involved characters that I was less than thrilled with. The strangest part was that feeling of innocence even where said disliked characters were concerned once you actually set foot into their shoes. And that came through in the end as well.

But overall it was the characters involved that threw me. The main characters, on the other hand, who have been long-time members of Harlan Coben's cast from the looks of it, were actually all quite awesome and-- dare I say? --SEXY. AS. UNF! Seriously, I love badass characters. I love characters that can carry their own weight, have their own quirks, and that can pull that off naturally without being pretentious or arrogant about it. Those oddities and unique qualities about them have to feel natural, and that is one thing that I have to give credit to Harlan Coben for: his characters--whether nuts-as-hell, pretty kickass, misleading, or normal-pushed-to-the-extreme--are all still pretty well fleshed and, most important, they're natural. I really liked that about this book.

Perhaps my low rating is because I haven't been in this one from the beginning of the series, but I feel like the story was a throw-away as opposed to the characters in it. The main characters, like I said, were fun. But I feel there was a significant lack of a story that would last for me. The plot had so many twists and turns, filled with so many potentials that led to dead-ends when it concerned the one main issue this book was written about in the first place, that overall I felt like I was on a wild goose chase and being played for a fool. Which, in the end when everything was revealed, I think I was. It was nice to finally get answers at the end of it all, but it was another thing altogether to feel that kind of borderline relief at the end of the book as well. That's not something I usually like to feel. And it's not a full-on feeling, because I did enjoy the read, but there's a border between being led on and being kept in suspense. I feel like this book danced quite tentatively on that border and thus my inability to say boldly that I liked it arises.

Going from there, I want to conclude with my recommendation. I feel that people who have stuck by this series will have to come up with their own thoughts for themselves. Your favorite characters-- if they are the reason you read-- are wonderful to me. The story was twisting and kept you going. If knowing these people fully and liking the issues they get into has worked for you in the past, I'm hoping that this works for you as well, because it did keep me reading in the end, and it did entertain me substantially.

For those of you who haven't read this book or this series though, I would recommend starting with the first. Don't make the same mistake I did. I try never to read a series from anywhere in between, but in this case, I made a choice and I have to deal with it. I think however that the characters are worth the investment or at least a glance into, and if this book is anything to go by, the plots will at least keep your interest piqued if nothing else. So, library this one or borrow it from a friend if you can! And I hope you enjoy it!