Publisher: Tinder Press
Publication Date: 25th July 2019
At just under 200 pages, Looker is a brisk read. Chopped up into bite size paragraphs, I raced through it.
It’s a tricky one for me to review though and I might find it difficult to explain why but please bear with me!
Looker tells the story of an unnamed female protagonist who lives in the building opposite a famous blockbuster actress and her family. Our protagonist lives alone with her cat after the demise and ultimate complete breakdown of her relationship.
She develops an unhealthy obsession with the movie star whom she dubs ‘The Actress’ and spends her time watching their family life play out through their blindless windows. Harbouring fantasies about The Actresses husband, taking note of their routines and basically spending way too much time and effort concentrating on their lives instead of her own, which is slowly falling down around her.
She had problems getting pregnant when she was with her husband and went through gruelling and expensive rounds of IVF treatment. The infertility issue lay with herself and not her husband which left her harbouring lots of guilt. She longs for a baby of her own and perfect family idyl that she perceives The Actress to have.
As the story progresses we witness her mental health slowly beginning to decline until her behaviour is so erratic and odd it is difficult to fathom. This is not so much a plot based book, although obviously things do happen to power the story along, it’s more a study of the protagonists issues with her relationship and fertility problems and how they ultimately affect her mental health.
Told in the first person, the narrator takes the reader with her through her myriad thoughts and feelings surrounding her life. We are with her in her head and this makes her somewhat of an unreliable narrator. I LOVE an unreliable narrator and she is no exception.
Here comes the tricky bit……
I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the portrayal of the character’s decline in mental health. This subject (struggling to conceive, baby loss etc) has been so deftly dealt with in a few books recently, most notably The Flight Of Cornelia Blackwood by Susan Elliott Wright, however in the case of Looker it felt a little more like an exaggeration. I enjoyed the obsessive/voyeuristic element of this book hugely but I felt uncomfortable at times.
There are many women who suffer depression and mental health issues when faced with the devastating fertility problems our protagonist has, but I felt her behaviour was perhaps unneccessarily over-exaggerated. I don’t mean that to come across as glib or offensive in any way, I just felt like it was too convenient a reason for her behaviour and maybe a little insensitive. But this is of course just my opinion.
I guess what I’m trying to convey is that many women suffer from these issues and they are strong and resilient and they get through it, as devastating and as difficult as that may be. To portray a woman losing her grip and having a dark spin put on it as a result of these issues felt a little uncomfortable to me.
That said, I did enjoy the writing style, the first person perspective and the building tension to what is a eye opening if not exactly shocking denouement. It is very much a character study, a quite claustrophobic one at that. It has building tension and a propulsive writing style that kept me invested right to the end, however if it’s an action packed thriller you’re after, you’re barking up the wrong tree with this one.
If you’re after a quick, slightly dark, quirky read then I would recommend it. I will also just say that I don’t tend to give trigger warnings in my reviews but i’ve read a lot of reviews for this book where there is a trigger warning for animal cruelty. So please be aware of this.
Thank you as always to the publisher for my review copy.
See you all soon.
Amanda – Bookish Chat xxx