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Reviewed in the United States on February 14, 2021
Toke awhile to grasp what was the story or the stories within the story. Then went on and on and on............ Found it frustrating to read but some good descriptive writing. Good luck if you take this read on.
The House Mate is a psychological thriller that blew me away and caused me to rethink my perceptions of the entire story after the book came to an end.
What I Loved
I love that there are so many themes running through the plot. The most obvious of these themes is the overuse of social media and how people can’t distinguish between reality and the carefully filtered world of Instagram. The main character, Regi, is drawn into the world of #cleanstagram, and she quickly learns about trolls and tries to save her favorite Instagrammer from the mocking comments of one such person by locating that person and paying him/her a visit. Are you cringing yet? Well, you should be.
Along with the theme of the overuse of social media, there are more subtle related themes of perception versus reality and the ability to hide in plain sight while rewriting your own story. Regi changed her name as a reflection of wanting to change her story. The big mystery is why? What is she running from? There are many more themes I could identify, and I loved how each developed throughout the story. It provides lots to discuss long after I finished the book.
My favorite character is Sophia, one of Regi’s housemates. Genuine diagnosable OCD is a challenging disorder to live with as much for the person who has it as those who live with that person. It takes patience and understanding that are unusual to see in college-age young men and women. Still, in that sea of misunderstanding, Sophia, with her gentle ways and empathy, never wavered. She is an excellent reminder that mental health disorders are an illness, not a choice.
I especially love the ending of this story. I went along, keeping a pretty fast pace and glued to the book, though not understanding where the story was trying to go. And, then, the end happened, and I was blown away. I read so many psychological thrillers that surprises don’t happen as much as I’d like, but The House Mates not only surprised me with the ending, it made me realize that my whole perception of the story had been incorrect. I am in total awe of any novel that can blow my mind, and The House Mate not only blew my mind, but it shook it up and spat it back out.
To Read or Not to Read
If you are a psychological thriller-junkie like me, you won’t want to miss this shocking, fast-paced tale of misperceptions.
Regi has recently moved into a house she shares with 3 much younger women. Regi has OCD and has to regularly perform certain repetitive actions to get through the moment or day. How she developed OCD is not revealed to us right away. She has a secret about her past and vaguely refers to some terrible event and her involvement in it. The book has a claustrophobic feeling as the description says because most of the book is inside her head and about her anxious thoughts and ideas.
The book is divided into 3 parts with chapters labelled Now, Then, and posts from an Instagram influencer called Mrs. Clean. The parts where Regi felt awkward around her housemates were done well but there weren't really any clues to suggest where the story was going. There was A LOT of repetition, including the phrases 'shiny eyes' and 'dry mouth'. The Instagram posts were a nice touch but weren't a part of Regi's past. One would think the Then chapters would tell us something but they end up causing confusion. I don't know if it was intentional but being labelled Then and the story being told within them seems to suggest it.
The climax takes place when Regi's obsession with Mrs. Clean grows and she takes action. It leads to a positive outcome but no normal person would or should do what Regi does. I was left feeling tricked and unsatisfied. I'm also unsure what the message was.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the read.
I was immediately drawn to this book by its sinister cover and I wanted to read it straight away without even seeing what it was about. The bonus of it was that it was written by Nina Manning, whose other two books I have enjoyed, which just added even more to its appeal.
The plot for The House Mate appears pretty straightforward, but once you get into the story, it takes a more complex route which at times could be confusing and had me wondering what was going on and where it was heading, but once it was made clear, it made much more sense. it really has been very cleverly plotted and put together when looking back on it.
I always enjoyed Nina Manning’s writing and she does a great job of keeping you wanting to flick those pages. Her characters are always very well developed and each are brought to life through the pages. The main character in this story suffers from OCD and anxiety and Nina Manning has done such a great job in portraying these two crippling disorders.
In my opinion I think that The House Mate is Nina Manning’s best work to date. It is very unique and although not to everyone’s taste based on other feedback I have read, it is this uniqueness that makes it a stand out to me. It was a pleasure to read and review The House Mate and I look forward to seeing what Nina Manning comes up with for her readers next.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 15, 2020
A very tedious book. I have struggled to 50%, and there is still no real plot. The characterisation isn't strong enough to carry it without one - the main character is a limp lettuce with OCD and oh boy we aren't going to be allowed to forget that. Every page tells us in endless detail about some aspect of this. She is irritating; with her endless deep breathing and fainting, the book doesn't so much grasp the reader as make you want to run in the other direction.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 21, 2020
I really wanted to love this book! But I'm sad to say it just didn't grab me and after about 70% I have given up with it. I don't really know why, and don't wish to be critical of the author as I have the utmost respect for anyone who can write a book. A little too much focus on the OCD, which, whilst an important issue to explore, didn't really add much to the story.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 11, 2020
I have enjoyed reading all 3 of Nina's books and with this one I literally couldn't put it down as it got nearer to the end. Some reviews have criticised the amount of narrative around OCD but I found it really interesting and would have more sympathy with someone with this issue in future as result. Liked the ending.