May 10, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

OUR KIND OF CRUELTY by Araminta Hall is told from the perspective of an obsessed and delusional stalker named Mike.

Mike thinks he's playing a game of cat and mouse with the love of his life, his ex-girlfriend Verity. In reality, Verity (or V) has moved on, fallen in love with "the most eligible bachelor in London," and is engaged to be married in the coming months. When V sends Mike an invitation to the wedding, he's convinced the invitation is just a calculated move in an ongoing, twisted little game they've named Crave. Now, it's Mike's move.

I can't delve into plot specifics without spoiling the story but I'll share with you what I can.

Our Kind of Cruelty is divided into three parts.

PART ONE: The backstory -- 
Mike's traumatic childhood, how he initially meets V, the highs and lows of their EIGHT year relationship, the dynamics of the silly games they like to play, etc. It essentially sets the stage for what's to come and gives the reader a foundation to base his future actions upon.

PART TWO: The main event occurs.

PART THREE: The story comes full circle when the main event is retold from inside a courtroom.

I must admit, I had a very difficult time putting this book down. It definitely deserves to earn a few points for holding my attention, but there were quite a few things about it that really bothered me. 

First and foremost, there's Mike. The man has little to no social intelligence and misinterprets the most basic of social cues on a near constant basis. Yet, despite this obvious social ineptitude, the author would like us to believe that Mike's managed to secure a high profile and successful banking job and rakes in million dollar bonuses every year.


Verity is another major problem for me. If the author's objective was to make V a sympathetic character, she did a poor job of it. The reader isn't given any information about who she is as a person. What's her personality like? What was her thought process? What motivated her? ( you know, send her stalker ex a wedding invitation despite knowing how he'd react? Because she must have known exactly how he might react to such a thing. I mean, they dated for eight years!) We can't know if V's being genuine or honest. Thus, I'm left to wonder if Verity ever really cared about Mike at all? 

The book simply left me with too many questions. Did V take advantage of Mike's lack of social skills to mold him into the type of man she could easily manipulate? Is it really fair to condemn a man based on his actions if they were motivated by the manipulations of another person? Or if his actions were based on a distorted sense of reality that didn't really exist? I'm not sure that it is. 

Ultimately, Our Kind of Cruelty depressed me more than it disturbed me, and I would've preferred a more resolute ending. Despite my personal opinions about this book, I do think it will be a popular choice for book clubs (as there is much to discuss!) and  may be enjoyable for fans of Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins.


*A big thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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