Review: My Second Life by Faye Bird

Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Title: My Second Life
Author: Faye Bird
Genre: contemporary, thriller, supernatural
Series: N/A
Pages: 305
Published: Jan 19 2016
Source: publishers for review 
Rating: 2/5

A pacy pageturner that asks: Can you be held responsible now for something you did in a previous life?

Fifteen-year-old Ana has a good life--she has friends and a boy she likes and a kind mother--but still, she's haunted by her past; she knows that she lived once before as a girl named Emma, and she still misses her old family. When, by chance in her life now, Ana meets a woman she knew in her previous life, a terrifying memory flashes through her mind of a young girl drowning. Was Emma responsible? And should Ana pay the price? Consumed by guilt, Ana sets out to find out as much as possible about the person she was before and what she had done, only to discover that the family she misses so deeply had dark secrets of its own. To come to terms with her life now, Ana must figure out how to let go of the past.

Though the author attempts a lot with her debut novel, My Second Life is a somewhat flawed and predictable YA thriller. The premise is an interesting one -- second chances to understand an old tragedy -- but the execution is ultimately shallow and unfulfilling. There are aspects of the novel that did work, and work well but overall it is an uneven novel. 

The issues with My Second Life are simple but impossible to ignore. The general storyline and plot are predictable from the beginning. It's very easy for a reader with any kind of awareness to guess what happened on the pivotal night and why. Thus, the next 200 pages of the novel feel way, way too drawn out for the amount of plot left. As Ana tries to understand it gets frustrating when the answer seems, and is for the most, obvious. 

The characterization shown for anyone in My Second Life is thin to nonexistent. It's hard to care about either of Ana/Emma's lives when so little time is spent developing her into a real person. The same goes for anyone else involved in her life. Both her moms are cardboard cutouts, as is the unavoidable and unnecessary love interest. 

The author did manage to pull off one twist before the end of the novel. I did like the unexpected angle that played naturally into resolution; it made it a more engaging read... just 95% too late. I can't say that this was a particularly good novel but it was not egregiously bad, either. For the most part what My Second Life is forgettable. There's not much to recommend and I doubt if I will remember the particulars two months from now.

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