Review: White Bodies by Jane Robins

32920301★★★½

If you’ve ever wanted to eat your sister’s hair, this book is for you.

Or if you just like reading twisty novels about obsession, with a dose of weirdness, then definitely try this. I will in no way assume it’s because you also eat your sister’s hair.

This novel has a decidedly bleak and gloomy, unsettled atmosphere hanging over it, with a noir quality that is subtle, but evident. Combine that with twins and the “murder exchange” trope and you’ve got yourself something that can only fail in its cliches.

Callie is the ugly twin. Tilda is the beautiful one. I’m going to be honest, they both have serious mental health issues even if Tilda wants to play like only Callie does. Callie is a quiet, meek follower. Tilda is a leader, controlling and determined.

When the beautiful Tilda starts dating the equally beautiful Felix, Callie becomes entrenched in their relationship, like a third wheel that is constantly staring at you. Maybe that wheel goes home and masturbates to you. You don’t know! But you assume! Because that wheel is weird and it makes you uncomfortable.

Tilda and Felix push Callie away, but Callie suspects it’s not because she’s a fucking weirdo, but because Tilda is being hurt and controlled by Felix. The usually vibrant and pushy Tilda has become thin and agreeable, doing whatever Felix says. Callie doesn’t like it, so her obsession shifts – Callie becomes convinced Tilda’s life is in danger. She starts attending an online support group for abused women and finds like-minded individuals who just want to help. But just how far are they willing to go?

This is Strangers on a Train meets Single White Female. And as long as you’re not involved personally, those are some pretty fun plots.

giphy (7)

There are books who have pulled off this particular plot better – The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson comes to mind. But there is still something fun and dark about it that made it a good, fast read for me.

Robins had the differing personalities of these twins down to a fine art. What I liked the most about these ladies was that even though they were (almost) forcing the reader to understand that were two completely different people with nothing in common – barely acting like twins at all – in the end their neurosis were what connected them. Crazy bitches. Literally, their character arcs made me giddy.

I love a book that keeps you on your toes, where you don’t know which way is up; if a character is on the level or fucking around. When the plot seems predictable and linear, but then something happens to rock you, and your grasping for anything to hold onto to get yourself upright again. That’s what this book tries to pull off, and while it wasn’t done perfectly, it was still a really great effort and I can’t complain about its content in its own right.

There were moments that shook me a little bit. There were moments I found clever, cringeworthy and creepy. Nothing was 10/10, but it’s worth reading if you’re into creepy noir suspense. Jane Robins has a shit tonne of promise as a writer. I get the feeling she’s a little weird herself, which is even better for those of us that want to pick up a book and go “wtf?” at something we have never gone “wtf?” at before. Eating teeth and hair definitely did that for me.

giphy (8)

I wouldn’t call this a thriller, it’s not action-packed or heart racing, but I don’t think Robins wanted it to be either. I think she wanted it to be menacing, to make you a little uncomfortable even if you aren’t sure why. I think she wanted it to be like Donald Trump stalking Hillary Clinton around the debate stage – it’s weird, but it’s not weird enough to call out and be like “Can you just fucking stop?”

Robins has created a page turning experience, in my opinion. Honestly, this is not what I thought this book would be going into it, but I actually enjoyed it quite a bit until…

That fucking ending. It threw off my whole experience. I don’t know if I hated it or if it was just so abstract that I haven’t fully come to terms with it yet. Maybe in a month I’ll really like it. But until then I’m taking away half a star as punishment.

🔪🔪🔪
book source: Touchstone via Netgalley in exchange for a review

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