Review: Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent


Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent

Series: No

Genres: Psychological Thriller

Release Date: August 22, 2017

Format: Audio

Narrators: Sam O’Mahony, Roy McMillan, Kevin Hely, Tracy Keating, Stephen Hogan, Kathy O’Brien, Steven Laverty, Michele Moran

Source: OverDrive

Find it here: GoodReads | Amazon

I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.

So begins Liz Nugent s astonishing debut novel a chilling, elegantly crafted, and psychologically astute exploration of the nature of evil. 

Oliver Ryan, handsome, charismatic, and successful, has long been married to his devoted wife, Alice. Together they write and illustrate award-winning children s books; their life together one of enviable privilege and ease until, one evening after a delightful dinner, Oliver delivers a blow to Alice that renders her unconscious, and subsequently beats her into a coma. 

In the aftermath of such an unthinkable event, as Alice hovers between life and death, the couple s friends, neighbors, and acquaintances try to understand what could have driven Oliver to commit such a horrific act. As his story unfolds, layers are peeled away to reveal a life of shame, envy, deception, and masterful manipulation. 

With its alternating points of view and deft prose, Unraveling Oliver is a page-turning, one-sitting read that details how an ordinary man can transform into a sociopath.

WHAT I LIKED:
I very rarely venture outside of the contemporary romance genre. It’s my happy place and I’m good with that. But I took a chance on something different with Unraveling Oliver and I’m so glad I did. I’ve seen some people comment that the story was slow and repetitive but I didn’t find that at all. I was riveted from the very start and loved the gradual parceling of information as small nuggets of Oliver’s life were shared. 

Oliver has beat his wife into a comatose state and everyone is shocked, including Oliver who says he was “fond of her, in my way”. Outwardly, Oliver is handsome, successful and charming, if not a bit private. But he is also cold, controlled, shockingly self-absorbed and practically emotionless. Was he born like that or did his upbringing and environment make him that way? I was fascinated by the series of events that led to his violent attack and kept pondering the nature vs. nurture aspect of the story. What makes a sociopath?

The story is brilliantly told through eight different points of view including a childhood friend, Oliver’s mistress, an estranged half-brother, and Oliver himself. There are so many layers to the story and it was fascinating to see the full picture begin to take shape as more of the past was learned and more pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place. There were so many threads that were woven together, lives that intersected, and I was amazed at Nugent’s ability to create such an intricate web and then slowly untangle it.

The narration was perfection and played such a big part in my enjoyment of the story. The voices, the accents, the delivery – all were so distinct and brought the story to life. Oliver’s cold delivery, Barney’s plaintive chronicle, Eugene’s disjointed and utterly heartbreaking thoughts. Each voice added to the overall enjoyment.

This would make an excellent book club or buddy read because there are so many questions raised and so many points perfect for discussion.


WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:
Honestly, not much. If I was feeling nit-picky I’d say that the final chapter could have been a teeny bit longer. It would have been interesting to get just a little bit more of each character in the aftermath. But that’s just wishful thinking and I was totally satisfied with the ending.


4.5/5 STARS

HAVE YOU READ UNRAVELING OLIVER?

17 comments

  1. Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed it, too So not my usual kind of read but I was glad I took a chance on it.

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  2. Oh this sounds like my kind of book!!! I love these types especially with multiple narrators. New audio for me to check out!! Great review!

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    1. Thanks Grace - I think you would love this one!

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  3. This is totally my kind of read Kathy! I am added it to my audio list!

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  4. We kind of both have the same sweet spot (contemporary romances), but I have to say, every time I read a suspense-thriller, I love it! This one sounds fabulous too. I feel like I might have trouble with an audiobook of this, because it has so many POVs, but I would definitely love to read it. Great review!

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    2. Same here, Sam! I always enjoy the suspense-thrillers I try but even so it's not a genre I naturally gravitate to. I just love my romance. :) I had no trouble with the multiple POVs and I think the audio actually HELPED in that regard because there different narrators for each and every POV. It really helped distinguish each voice and made the characters come to life.

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  5. I literally just put this on hold on Overdrive from my library. It sounds so good!

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    1. That's so awesome! I can't wait to hear what you think of it! :)

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  6. One of my favourite youtubers recommended this book and I'm looking forward reading it. Sounds like a really good read. Fingers crossed my library gets a copy soon.

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    1. Hope you're able to get a copy soon, Nina. And I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did!

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  7. Great review, it sounds like it was a great listen :) I must admit, I have a bit of trouble with audio but I do really like them when there's more than one narrator; it just makes it that much more interesting (and being able to tell everyone apart helps!)

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    1. Thanks Bre. I think listening on audio really played into my enjoyment of this one. Having a different narrator for each POV really brought the story to life.

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  8. I enjoyed this one too, so I'm glad you liked it. I thought the various point of views really helped the story!

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. I so agree, Lauren. I love the way this one was told with the multiple POVs.

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