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It’s almost impossible to tell you what exactly Black Iris is about without spoiling the whole story. The blurb is accurate enough, I guess, but it didn’t prepare me for what I actually got. Because, above all, Black Iris is about revenge. It’s about taking things three steps too far. It’s about a girl who was wronged, so she feels an intense, burning desire to ruin everybody’s life at least twice as much as they ruined hers.

This is clearly a love-it-or-hate-it situation. I requested Black Iris from Netgalley because I saw pages and pages of glowing five star reviews. I should have scrolled a bit further, because then I would have seen the pages and pages of one star reviews. For me, it’s neither a five star experience nor a one star experience. I’m actually just really conflicted about how I feel.

Not that I regret reading this book. Not at all. It was an experience. Probably a good experience. But it’s intense, and it’s not at all happy, and it’s not the kind of book you to read to unwind after a stressful day at work. Laney, Blythe, Armin, Zoeller, Donnie – they’re all still in my head. This is a book that sticks with you.

I think the biggest issue I had with this book was that I didn’t connect with any of the characters. I’m not even sure that I wassupposed to connect with them. Laney comes right out and says that she’s an unreliable narrator. Is she telling the truth? Is she lying? We’ll never know. We don’t know whether we can trust her descriptions of her friends. Of what happened. She tries to justify her behavior, to explain why exactly she feels it’s necessary to ruin the lives of so many people. For me, she never quite succeeded. Let it go, Laney. I know it hurt. I know it was awful. But it’s in the past. And it does no good to dwell on it now. No good to obsess over everything they did to you and said about you. Move on with your life. Don’t let them win.

Something to keep in mind when starting this book is that it has a very non-linear timeline. It jumps all over the place, to the point that I found myself going back to check the dates at the beginning of each chapter so I’d know where we were supposed to be. Everything really comes together in the last 20%, but it’s very disconcerting for most of the book. As much as I disliked the back-and-forth chapters, I don’t think that the story would have worked as well if told linearly.

Above all, though, the writing is beautiful. The pacing is more or less even, and I was putting it down because it was just so intense, not because I was bored or sick of it. It actually gets better and better as it goes – and the last 40% just flew by. But keep in mind that this book is dark, it’s twisted, and nearly every character is supremely unlikable. But somehow it’s good, and somehow you want to keep reading.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆

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