After the perfectly good YA Well, That Was Unexpected, and the perfectly good cozy mystery Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice For Murderers, Jesse Q Sutanto is BACK with the one-sitting WTF pageturner in the new I'm Not Done With You Yet.
I'm Not Done With You Yet is a twisted, manipulative friendship story about writers writing twisted, manipulative friendship stories. Also, about murder and psychopathy.
In the present timeline, Jane is a middling writer, with laughably small advances and a husband who keeps "accidentally" referring to her career as her hobby. I thought the husband was terribly well-written. I think real life is full of people who aren't hateful, aggressive or dangerous, just completely inconsiderate, and Ted is every coworker who's left the shared microwave dirty because you're just so much better at cleaning it, and every boyfriend who left the seat up again and wondered why you were making it such a big deal. Inconsiderate Dudebro Ted is so realistic that it helps ground the intensity of this story into our regular world.
In the past timeline, working-class Jane was lost and overwhelmed at her Oxford fiction MFA program, and is quickly swept up by a chance meeting with the gorgeous, charismatic and talented Thalia. This reminded me of nervous comp grad Hannah and her gorgeous, rich suitemate April in Ruth Ware's The It Girl. (I'm delighted to see my experience as a state-college kid on an Oxbridge course reflected in fiction, perhaps I won't dwell on the murderous outcomes in both novels.) Jane is immediately obsessed with Thalia, and their intense friendship powers the whole novel.
I've written before about how great the friendship motivation can be in a thriller. Thrillers with obsessive love as a motivation don't always work for me, because sometimes I think, just dump him/her and move on. Seriously, do you know how many attractive people are out there?!? Reject this one! But doing something dangerous and deeply messed up for a bestie? Doing it for social approval or under social pressure? Now that's a motivation that works for me every time.
When Jane discovers that Thalia has a new book out about an intense female friendship, she carefully manipulates her way into bumping into her at a fiction convention. Well, sort of, we've veering into spoiler territory now. Once the two reunite, the twisty plot really takes off, with shocks and more murder. On one level, readers absolutely know that their insta-bonding after years apart is gonna have dramatic, possibly bloody outcomes, and on the other, everything seems so perfect for Jane! I'm Not Done With You Yet is 100% Gore Free, with a fairly high body count off-camera.
I read this in one sitting and I was hooked right to the end, with twists coming rapidly in the final section.
For more twisted friendships in twisty suspense novels, check out Social Creature, The Girls Are All So Nice Here, Beware That Girl, and The It Girl. New fans of author Jesse Q. Sutanto should also try her other suspense fiction The Obsession and The New Girl.
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