Thursday, July 7

Calia Read - Unhinge

“We breathe in madness. We exhale insanity.” 

Victoria can’t recall much of her life before she came to Fairfax Hospital, but she prefers it that way. She holds her beautiful baby daughter, Evelyn, every day and that’s enough…isn’t it? But when Evelyn is taken from her, Victoria’s world begins to fray at the seams. It becomes apparent to her that the hospital walls aren’t the only obstacles standing between her and the outside world—Victoria has constructed a hall of mirrors deep inside, every false image a distraction from the trauma of her past life. A white picket fence, a family on the way…yet something feels amiss in her memories of a happy marriage. When a handsome stranger begins visiting Victoria, pressing her to remember her past, she struggles to separate real memories from refracted images she has created, knowing at last that only the truth can set her free.

This review contains spoilers - to see them you only have to highlight the text. 

First of all, I have to mention that Unhinge is technically part of a series, a companion to Unravel. The main connection between these two novels is the setting: Fairfax, an institution for mentally ill people. Also, if you've read Unravel, you probably know who Victoria is - a patient, who earned the nickname Mommy Dearest for carrying around a plastic doll, thinking it her daughter, Evelyn

Now that's out of the way, I'm going to list separately the things I liked and disliked in Unhinge, because I have quite conflicted thoughts on this novel. 

"I'm beginning to see the truth has its price. 
It's your sanity it wants and craves more than anything."

  • I know that starting with the negatives can seem a bit harsh, but I'm doing it for all the good reasons - I'd like to finish off this review on a positive note, because despite how I feel about this book, I still think Calia Read is an exceptional writer.
  • I felt like how everyone treated Victoria after losing her baby was utterly unrealistic and unhealthy even... but perhaps that's just because I don't know that much about mental health?? It was just strange that no one would tell her that her baby was alive and well, and then they also left her all on her own in a house where traumatic stuff happened to her very recently, and did not even visit her for days. 
  • In between all this unrealistic stuff is the perfect time to bring up Alice, one of the nurses. From the beginning I felt like she should not be allowed to work with mentally ill people, as she clearly got a kick from being terrible to them. But what was worse was that page by page it got clear that she wasn't completely sane herself... considering this, why was she never fired? 
  • The characters fell kinda flat for me, as in they weren't terrible, but they weren't as vivid and well-written as the protagonists of Unravel. And I guess this led to the fact that...
  • There was basically zero chemistry between Wes and Victoria OR Sinclair and Victoria... I couldn't ship them, root for them and I definitely didn't get all emotional over their convos. The same goes for the lackluster friendships and familial relationships.
  • The novel was quite slow, which is no way a bad thing, but next to that slow flowing story the ending felt incredibly rushed and that made the whole story feel unbalanced. It was as if we were watching a movie, but got bored by the end, so we ended up speeding through the last part of it. 
  • And what the fuck was that ending??? We had such an emotional story going on (with a few flaws, undoubtedly) and then it was - for me - ruined completely by all those dumb-ass revelations. The whole bad-Wes-and-good-Wes-are-two-different-people (twins) was sooo unbelievable, especially because we didn't even get a satisfying explanation for ANYTHING. Literally nothing was properly explained close to the end and we should just be okay with this... Yeah, right.
  • The epilogue was a complete joke. We have Victoria, a mentally ill main character, whose journey we followed through her hardest times and then we didn't even get a good look at her life and personality AFTER she learnt the truth about everything... Because of this I partly feel like we don't know the REAL her, as we never knew her in calm/normal circumstances... does that make sense to anyone else besides me?
  • Again, maybe this is just me, but the lack of psychological explanation bothered me a lot... We didn't get a name for Victoria's illness, nor saw any other type of treatment besides looking at the pictures. Obviously, I don't want the full medical explanation, but some info would have been nice.

  • Just like in Unravel, the writing was beautiful, yet super-easy to read. In a book about such a tough subject matter I NEEDED THAT to not feel too overwhelmed by everything. 
  • Don't take my opinion for granted because I'm no expert, but I do think Victoria's mental illness was portrayed quite realistically, despite all the unbelievable stuff that I mentioned before. Plus it was written in a way that made me REALLY feel for Victoria and also root for her to get better.
  • Up until the mystery was solved I was quite happy with the story, like a weaker 4 star happy. 
Overall, Unhinge definitely wasn't a terrible book. It just didn't work for me for the reasons I mentioned above. Will I read other novels by Calia Read, though? Of course, she is AWESOME. Duh.

The story idea: 3/5
The realization of the story: 2/5
The characters: 2.5/5
The cover: 2/5
Enjoy factor: 3/5


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