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  • Writer's pictureAshley Mongrain

The Night Shift | Review


Rating - ⭐⭐⭐.25


"It’s New Year’s Eve 1999. Y2K is expected to end in chaos: planes falling from the sky, elevators plunging to earth, world markets collapsing. A digital apocalypse. None of that happens. But at a Blockbuster Video in Linden, New Jersey, four teenage girls working the night shift are attacked. Only one survives. Police quickly identify a suspect who flees and is never seen again.


Fifteen years later, in the same town, four teenage employees working late at an ice cream store are attacked, and again only one makes it out alive.


Both surviving victims recall the killer speaking only a few final words... “Goodnight, pretty girl.


In the aftermath, three lives intersect: the survivor of the Blockbuster massacre who’s forced to relive her tragedy; the brother of the original suspect, who’s convinced the police have it wrong; and the FBI agent, who’s determined to solve both cases. On a collision course toward the truth, all three lives will forever be changed, and not everyone will make it out alive."


 

The Night Shift is a standalone mystery thriller novel by Alex Finlay.


As is commonly said, all good things must come to an end, and that's how I felt about the direction this book took. For a good chunk of the took I was relatively enjoying myself. However, as the story started to ramp up and things were being revealed, I found myself not enjoying the story anymore.

To be fair, since my reading experience was half up and half down, I am going to give it a middle-ish rating.


Let's get into the details.


 

WRITING


The writing is spaced out with no overly long chunks of text which I appreciated. The chapters were more on the shorter side as well, so you switch perspectives a lot quicker. I don't know if I particularly liked that because it meant that you spent less time with each character in one shot.


This can also, kind of, be considered mixed media as there were 'YouTube excerpts' included in the text. Personally, I thought this could have been taken out because it ended up not adding much to the story.


The last comment I want to make is that the author ended up using the word 'unsub'. I don't know whether or not that term is actually used by professionals or if it was just a Criminal Minds thing.



PLOT


Two separate cases 15 years apart, four dead with one survivor. The mystery of this book, at its core, was interesting, but it was the big reveal that ruined it for me.


There are several layers to the plot as we follow several different characters who have their own storylines. Ella is the survivor of the first massacre, and she ends up getting entangled with Jesse, the survivor of the second one. Keller is an FBI agent working on the case, and Chris is a lawyer and the brother of the original suspect of the killings.


Out of all of the storylines, I enjoyed Kellers the most because it made the most sense in relation to the mystery, to me at least. While Ella and Jesse's storyline was also very integral to the story, I just didn't enjoy either of the characters and their dynamic, but I will talk more about that in the characters section. As for Chris, his story arc was the most redundant out of all of them as his perspective in this didn't really amount to much and I could have done without him entirely.


As for how this book culminated, as I have already said, it ended up ruining the reading experience for me a bit. The pacing was done decently well as the author kept you on your feet when it came to the mystery, but once said mystery was unravelled, my only thought was 'oh...ew'. It just went in a direction that I didn't want to read about. There were also aspects of the mystery that lead to a very abrupt dead-end which I didn't enjoy as well.


My final comment for this section is that there were details in this book that were mentioned in passing that I thought were unnecessary because it added a trigger warning that had nothing to do with the story. Ella is a therapist, and she mentions that she had a patient who self-harms, and I just didn't like that it was casually mentioned for no reason.



CHARACTERS


As I stated previously, this has a multi-pov and follows Ella, Jesse, Keller and Chris. Let's start with Ella, who I would consider to be the main character.


I had some issues with Ella right from the second she was introduced. When we first get to know her, we find out that she is a habitual cheater who takes more than the recommended dose of Xanax and uses her dead coworker's names as aliases. That was sending some red flags up for me because it made immediately made her an unreliable character.


The main reason her character bothered me though was because her actions don't line up with her profession. As the final girl of the blockbuster killings, she ends up becoming a therapist which was a natural path for her. My issue here is that she, for one, did things that were out of line for her profession such as interrogating and threatening people. At one point she also said that she was the worst person to give advice...when she is literally a therapist.


As for the rest of the cast, I don't have too much to say about them. Jesse was around to stir things up a bit and to keep the mystery going. Keller, I have complaints about because she actually did her job well. Chris, however, as I said in the plot section, was a redundant character whose perspective added nothing to the story. His perspective was also pushed to the side a bit as we didn't get it as often as the others.



CONCLUDING THOUGHTS


Did I hate this book, no? But I am disappointed with it? It could have made for a really interesting mystery, but the characters and the direction of the story left a lot to be desired.

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