2.02.2015

ALWAYS WATCHING by Chevy Stevens

ALWAYS WATCHING
by Chevy Stevens

published by St. Martin's Griffin

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She helps people put their demons to rest.But she has a few of her own…In the lockdown ward of a psychiatric hospital, Dr. Nadine Lavoie is in her element. She has the tools to help people, and she has the desire—healing broken families is what she lives for. But Nadine doesn’t want to look too closely at her own past because there are whole chunks of her life that are black holes. It takes all her willpower to tamp down her recurrent claustrophobia, and her daughter, Lisa, is a runaway who has been on the streets for seven years.When a distraught woman, Heather Simeon, is brought into the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit after a suicide attempt, Nadine gently coaxes her story out of her—and learns of some troubling parallels with her own life. Digging deeper, Nadine is forced to confront her traumatic childhood, and the damage that began when she and her brother were brought by their mother to a remote commune on Vancouver Island. What happened to Nadine? Why was their family destroyed? And why does the name Aaron Quinn, the group’s leader, bring complex feelings of terror to Nadine even today? And then, the unthinkable happens, and Nadine realizes that danger is closer to home than she ever imagined. She has no choice but to face what terrifies her the most…and fight back. Sometimes you can leave the past, but you can never escape.Told with the trademark powerful storytelling that has had critics praising her work as “Gripping” (Kirkus), “Jaw-dropping” (Publishers Weekly) and “Crackling with suspense” (People magazine), ALWAYS WATCHING shows why Chevy Stevens is one of the most mesmerizing new talents of our day.

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4.5 owls

Almost five owls to a Chevy Stevens novel. And it's about time.

I knew this would happen, really. The first one was good, the second was really good, so I figured it was only a matter of time until one was great. And that's this one!

(Although I do have a couple of minor gripes, but those will come later. Let me bask in my happiness first.)

Always Watching is about Nadine, the therapist mentioned in the last two books. Now that Stevens doesn't have an excuse to write lazily conversationally anymore, she doesn't. And boy, is it great! It's exactly what I've been waiting for! There are similes!And metaphors! And adjectives!!!! I am so happy about this! In fact, the writing is the most steady and wonderful improvement over the last two books. Also the fact that Nadine seems to have a brain. That's also pretty cool.

Overall, this book made me very happy. (Not sure if I've made that clear yet.) It wasn't as engrossing as the last book, but so many other things made me so much happier about it than the last one, so that's okay, namely characterization, writing, and emotion. And writing.

Nadine has mostly healed from the traumatic events brought upon her by her last two clients and is now working at a hospital. When a new patient brings back memories from Nadine's past, a whole heap of old problems arise and suddenly Nadine's life is a chaotic mess. It's pretty entertaining to read about, but we are now brought to my one minor gripe: this book could've been condensed a tiny bit. Some of the scenes felt redundant, and at one point I felt like I was reading in circles, if such a thing is even possible! My issue is minor, though: it's not like 1/3 of this book needed to be removed. Just a couple scenes here and there, to make the plotting even tighter.

Good job, Ms. Stevens. This was an awesome book. I'm moving on to That Night now. It better be good.


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