The Breakdown by B.A. Paris
Published by St. Martin’s Press
I picked up The Breakdown because I was really impressed with Paris’s debut novel, Behind Closed Doors, and I was hoping for a second helping of the same kind of thing. Unfortunately, I didn’t love her second novel – while I found it entertaining, I also found it predictable and the main character was obnoxious to the point of being distracting from the story itself.
The premise here is that we have Cass, who decides to take a “shortcut” home from a party one night through the woods during a bad thunderstorm. On her drive, she passes a car that looks stranded in the woods, and for a variety of reasons, she decides not to stop and help the woman who is inside the car. The next morning, she learns that the woman who was in the car was later found dead, and Cass totally freaks out about this. Unfortunately, she can’t tell anyone what she saw because her boyfriend expressly warned her not to drive through the woods, so she doesn’t want him to know that she didn’t listen, and she also doesn’t want people to know that she saw this woman stranded and chose not to help her. So she spirals into an anxious mess, thinking whoever killed this woman is out to get her, thinking the police will be after her, all kinds of crazy stuff. But when she starts getting threatening phone calls she really goes off the deep end and is convinced she’s going to be killed, too.
What I did like about the book was the pacing and structure and how it had that creepy thriller feel that kept me at the edge of my seat. And it was a super quick read. What I did not like was the character of Cass – one of the most annoying characters I’ve read in fiction in quite some time – and the fact that I had the whole thing figured out from VERY early on. In fact, I thought it was so obvious what was happening that I couldn’t understand how Cass didn’t see it, making me even more annoyed with her character.
I can kind of see why people liked this novel but it just was not for me. I would read more by this author because I like how she creates the atmospheric creepiness that I’ve seen in both of her books. But plot-wise and character-wise, for me, The Breakdown was a miss.