Today I'm reviewing Berlin Syndrome by Melanie Joosten a young Australian author. This is her first novel and what a fantastic effort. I received this book from Good Reads as a Giveaway, which was great because I was going to buy it anyway. I love supporting Aussie authors and this book intrigued me.
Now when I get excited, I'm all "yay" and "awesome" so it can sound like I'm not genuine, but I really only do it about things I love and am excited about. So believe me this book is fantastic.
If you had asked me at the beginning, I would have said that I wasn't sure. I was so busy with Uni that it took me a couple of weeks to get through the first part. I was also feeling rather uncomfortable with the developments in the book. If this was a romance there was something that was "off" about it. But I am the sort of lady who feels uncomfortable about how deceitful and false people can be in their relationships, while I also assume a lot of people are that way. Now here's the clever bit - this is exactly how the author wanted us to feel, and her writing is so subtle you couldn't quite put your finger on it.
Then BAM - big surprise half way through the book - and I finished the second half in two days because I just couldn't put it down. Luckily I never stop reading books. I can count on one hand the books I have started and not finished - because I understand that books need to be read as a whole and it's not fair to judge by half a book. But I'm so glad I persevered with this book, because the book was so cleverly done that it was difficult for me to read because of some personal experiences - but not - let me repeat - not because it is not well written and beautifully handled. You know when you meet someone and you think that you should have realised early on, and then you are sorry - well I'm glad my instincts were spot on with these characters - I feel more powerful, because I just got it. Joosten is spot on in some places with the psyche of the characters - it's powerful and frightening.
If you are delicate there are a couple of swear words and a couple of scenes which may offend, but they are necessary and well placed and not at all gratuitous. I just warn, because I know when my Mum & Dad have swapped books, they have been a little shocked at books that I just find normal.
So without giving too much away, Clare is in Berlin, photographing old buildings in Europe for a book she is working on, when she meets Andi, a local English teacher. Their mutual attraction quickly leads to an intense relationship - the kind you can only have with a stranger. Then comes a twist. The Berlin Wall is an important backdrop as well as a metaphor. What happens next makes you question not only the people you don't know well, but the people you see everyday. What are any of us capable of, and what will we rationalise in order to get what we want? Do people you work with, even your own family members have something inside them that they can hide even from you?
I gave this book five stars.