Second Life, SJ Watson

download (1)Help me out here. I loved Watson’s first book – and when I say ‘loved’, I mean really really really LOVED! I’ve actually read parts of it multiple times. I’ve used it in teaching writing techniques, I’ve referred countless people of all ages to it as a MUST read. So, you can only begin to imagine my elation when I heard that Watson had a new book coming out… and how I waited for this new book, knowing what I know about Watson’s skill at crafting a story and the way that he sucks a reader in to a plot, the complexity of his characters and the depth of the sway of his prose … with baited breath, I waited. And, as soon as the book was out, I pounced, grabbing this one to read on a long plane journey.

And I wasn’t disappointed, at least, not entirely. There’s no doubt that Watson has skill – in fact, he has a number of skills. There’s no doubt that he writes a mean psychological thriller. And I enjoyed this, I did. But – there’s always a but – it wasn’t nearly as brilliant as ‘Before I Go To Sleep‘ and I don’t think that’s particularly suprising. Those of you who read Watson’s debut novel will appreciate this immediately.

Like ‘Before I Go To Sleep’, ‘Second Life’ follows a female protagonist who finds out that her sister has been killed in Paris. The book unfolds as Julia, said protagonist, tries to understand how her sister died, the life she was leading and the person she had become. It was a solid plot and the characters were strong and nicely layered. Nonetheless, I found my concentration straying at various intervals throughout this book and I’m not entirely sure why… I’m not entirely sure that it was Watson’s fault. In many ways, The Guardian sums it up well: “Let’s face it, there aren’t many authors who could top Before I Go to Sleep.”

I’ll always be a fan of Watson’s. No matter what he produces, his first is too memorable to leave behind.




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