The 22 Murders of Madison May | Review
Rating - ⭐⭐1/2
"I love you. In every world.
Young real estate agent Madison May is shocked when a client at an open house says these words to her. The man, a stranger, seems to know far too much about her, and professes his love--shortly before he murders her.
Felicity Staples hates reporting on murders. As a journalist for a midsize New York City paper, she knows she must take on the assignment to research Madison May's shocking murder, but the crime seems random and the suspect is in the wind. That is, until Felicity spots the killer on the subway, right before he vanishes.
Soon, Felicity senses her entire universe has shifted. No one remembers Madison May, or Felicity's encounter with the mysterious man. And her cat is missing. Felicity realizes that in her pursuit of Madison's killer, she followed him into a different dimension--one where everything about her existence is slightly altered. At first, she is determined to return to the reality she knows, but when Madison May--in this world, a struggling actress--is murdered again, Felicity decides she must find the killer--and learns that she is not the only one hunting him.
Traveling through different realities, Felicity uncovers the opportunity--and danger--of living more than one life."
The 22 Murders of Madison May is a standalone sci-fi mystery thriller by Max Barry.
I had never heard of this book before and only found out about it because a YouTuber I follow read it. Due to that, I had no idea what to expect from this, especially as a multiverse mystery thriller, since either the story was going to work or it wasn't. And, unfortunately, it turned out to be the latter.
Let's get into the details.
I had some issues with the way this was written. It was full of choppy transitions between paragraphs, and there were a lot of awkward sentences such as "Zar decapitated the bottle," and "she inhaled him." The author also chose to include emojis when characters were texting, which I personally am not a fan of.
The only positive thing I have to say about the writing was that it did a decent job with the pacing, as the momentum was carried well throughout the story.
My final comment is that, though this is just an issue with my ebook, when you increase the font, it ended up cutting off the bolded first line which was rather annoying.
We start off this book with a bit of a rough introduction, as the first chapter failed to deliver the punch that is needed to properly set up the story. It did not get any better going forwards as, thought this is probably my fault for not reading the synopsis, I did not realize what the book actually focused on.
I was expecting a story similar to Happy Death Day, but with a sci-fi twist. I thought that this was going to be about Madison dying 22 times and trying to figure out what is going on. That is not what this story is, sadly, as instead, we mostly get the story through the lens of Felicity, a reporter who unwittingly gets roped into all the chaos.
As I have already alluded to, but will get more into later, I didn't like that this was the way the story was going to be told. I thought it was an odd choice to not focus on the titular character herself, and instead, focus on someone who should have been a side character. Due to this, the story was kind of ruined for me, which was disappointing because this could have had potential if it was written differently.
Another issue is that we get dropped into the story after she has been killed 20 times, so there are a lot of contexts we are outright missing. That in and of itself presents a flaw as you know, even when the characters think they have succeeded in stopping Clay, the villain, you know that is not the case because her deaths haven't reached 22 yet.
Moving forward all the way to the end of the book, without spoiling anything, the climax ended up making most of the story redundant. It just wasn't a good solution to the conflict because it went against the way the story was formatted. It was also a bit of an open ending which is something I also just don't like.
On the whole, we have a bunch of watered-down characters with poor development who were unable to drive the story successfully. Not one of them felt like a real person, or at least if they did, I didn't like them anyway. There are four characters we follow in this story (to varying degrees) - Felicity, Hugo, Madison and Clay.
Starting with Felicity, she is not the kind of character I would have liked to lead this story. Firstly, it just didn't make much sense for her to be the main character in the first place as she would have been better suited as a side character. Secondly, I don't particularly like mystery books where the MC is not a detective. I don't know why, but it bothers me when someone who is not authorized goes around trying to solve cases.
Hugo, while he did appear a lot through the story, felt like he was barely there. Aside from his weak presence, we don't really get to know him much which made his character feel very distant. Similar to him, Madison also suffered from a lack of development. Despite being the titular character, Madison is not nearly in this story as much as she should have been. Her perspective was also repetitive and kind of boring to follow.
Clay is the villain of this story and, like most of the characters, his story isn't fleshed out very well and his motivations felt very weak. All we know is that he fell in love with the first Madison, and when he couldn't have her, he traveled through the multiverse trying to find her again and killing his way through those that weren't. That it is, a very bare-bones backstory for a character with shallow development.
I simply did not like the way the author decided to depict the story, as it ended up ruining the potential this book could have had. That being said though, I did give this a bit of a higher rating because I feel like other people might still enjoy it.
This kind of reminded me of The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, which I also didn't particularly like and should have been my first warning sign... If you did enjoy that though, maybe you will enjoy this better than I did if you don't mind the idea of a sci-fi mystery thriller.