Book Review: The Witness by Nora Roberts

*Disclaimer: There may be some spoilers in the following review, VIEWER (or reader I guess) DISCRETION IS ADVISED*

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Synopsis:

If you don’t want a detailed of a description of the novel, I’ll insert the blurb right here so that you have an idea of what it’s about:

“Elizabeth Finch’s short-lived teenage rebellion began with L’Oréal Pure Black, a pair of scissors and a fake ID. It ended in blood.”

If that’s enough for you, you can scroll down to the “Plot” section of the review to get to the rest of the review.

Otherwise, I will continue below.

Elizabeth Finch is a sixteen-year-old girl whose mother raised her to be the perfect student, and ultimately, the perfect adult. Her mother is a surgeon and wanted Elizabeth to pursue a similar path and become a doctor. Elizabeth is incredibly intelligent (she took accelerated classes in high school and is now attending Harvard for pre-med. At SIXTEEN), and basically followed her mother’s plan for her entire life, until recently when she decided that she did not want to be a doctor. When her mom leaves for a week for a medical conference, Elizabeth rebels by going to the mall (to essentially be a normal teenage girl that her mother would NOT approve of) and runs into one of the popular girls who went to her high school, Julie. Julie decides to help Elizabeth with her rebellion, in exchange for Elizabeth making them fake ID’s so that they can sneak into one of the hottest night clubs in Chicago.

Once they make it to the night club, they run into members of the Russian mafia, which eventually leads to Elizabeth being on the run for the next twelve years of her life. That is, until she meets a cop who falls in love with her (This is Nora Roberts after all, there is going to be some form of a romance in the novel) and wants to help her with her situation.

I’m going to leave it there, because I don’t want to spoil too much.

 

Now, let’s move on to the review!

 

Plot:

The plot was interesting to me, especially with the perspective of someone on the run from the Russian Mafia. I thought, for the most part, the story did flow very nicely, and the subplot that is included was interesting and the characters involved in the different plots were interesting parallels to each other.

However, for a novel about being on the run from the Russian Mafia, they really weren’t involved after the first one hundred pages, which considering the novel is over four hundred pages, doesn’t make that much sense to me. The mafia was mentioned in a couple scenes in the middle of the novel, and then were a tad bit more involved in the end, but to me, it felt like they were kind of thrown in there as an afterthought,

“You know, we haven’t really talked about the mafia enough, let me add these random sections so that the reader knows that they’re still thinking about Elizabeth all this time.”

It was almost as if she was trying to create some suspense to make the reader think the mafia was going to run into her at some point, and then have this interesting plot development. Instead, it made me wonder why the author bothered writing these scenes in the first place. Also, the plot had predictable elements to it; I had a feeling nothing awful was going to happen after the events from the beginning, causing the novel to drag in the middle, especially with the romance.

 

Characters:

As far as characters go, I feel that each one had a distinct voice, so much so that I could imagine them speaking in my head very clearly. For the most part, the novel alternated from the point of view of Elizabeth and Brooks, and because the character’s voices were developed so well, their differences in personalities juxtaposed each other very well. However, some of the characters did come across as cliché because of the way I heard them speaking in my head. Eventually, I also did get tired of hearing from Elizabeth, because her voice came across as robotic (I suppose to convey her intelligence), monotone, and overall kind of bored me at certain points (another reason why I appreciated the alternating points of view).

Even though the novel alternated mainly between Brooks and Elizabeth, the focus was on Elizabeth, and her traumatic run-in with the Russian Mafia. The novel wanted to emphasize that Elizabeth had gone through a traumatic experience that affected her (obviously since she was on the run for the twelve years). Yet, instead of feeling Elizabeth’s pain and sadness from going through this, I felt nothing. Maybe the point is that Elizabeth was so traumatized that she had become numb and the only way for her to deal with her pain was to focus on being on the run, but it just didn’t interest me to the point where I wanted to explore Elizabeth dealing with her pain. Instead, I became bored with the novel and just wanted to move on to see what would happen to her in connection with the mafia.

One major point where the novel fell flat for me was when Brooks and Elizabeth first started falling in love and getting together. I know that Nora Roberts writes lots of romance, but I felt that the romance in this novel just didn’t really pull me in. I felt nothing when they were together, or about how their romance was affected at the end of the novel.

I think that the characters overall were okay, but I never really felt invested in anything that happened to them. For me personally, this novel was more interesting to me due to the plot than the characters, though this novel seemed as if it was supposed to be more character driven than plot driven.

 

Writing Style:

I generally like Nora Roberts writing style because I think she does a good job of setting the scene and creating the overall atmosphere, without over doing it. She’s a great story teller, and obviously as she has written many novels over the years (this novel clearly stated on the cover that it was her 200th novel, and this was back in 2012), this means both that she has had years to work on her craft, but also that not every novel of hers is going to be one that I love.

I did mention earlier, though, that certain points of the novel did drag on for me, and I think part of it had to do with Nora Roberts telling the reader things that they could have figured out themselves. One example of this is in the subplot, Justin Blake is seen as a parallel to Ilya, but instead of the reader realizing that for themselves, Elizabeth essentially says this to the reader during a conversation with Brooks after the incident. I wonder if one reason for this is because of how many people read her novel’s for purely entertainment value, as opposed to trying to figure out the significance of the sub plot in relation to the main plot. Due to this, she will probably spell things out for her readers, instead of letting them figure it out for themselves, because she wants to be sure that the reader picks up on this fact. Even though it is fun to just read a novel and not have to intensely analyze what it is that I’m reading, it does get old after awhile having the author spell things out for me, instead of letting me figure it out on my own.

 

Overall Thoughts:

The novel starts off strong, and made me interested initially, but the middle dragged on. After getting a third of the way through it, I had put it down for a couple of weeks and wasn’t interest in picking it up again. However, I am someone who hates not finishing a novel (unless I think it is just utter garbage), so I decided to pick it up again a couple days ago, and finished it quickly, mostly because I wanted to see how it was going to end.  The ending was anticlimactic for me, as throughout the novel, I had been convinced that nothing bad was going to happen to Elizabeth. A part of this also had to do with the fact that Elizabeth came across as so intelligent that she would be able to figure out how to get out of any situation, and I never really worried about anything happening to her. It was still a decent ending, but it just wasn’t as powerful as I thought it was going to be.

I do wish that there had been more of the Russian Mafia perspective included in the novel, as especially towards the end it seemed like they really didn’t care about finding her that much, even though it was the whole reason why she was on the run in the first place. During the last third of the novel, Elizabeth tells Brooks about one time in New York when Ilya had seen her, but she ended up escaping because she was just so much smarter than them and could move faster than they could. As a result of this, it seemed to me that Elizabeth’s fear from being on the run was told more so than shown, because to me, all I could see was that she was an intelligent woman who, even though she had to be careful, was always able to take care of herself.

Based on the plot, characters and writing style of the novel, I would give this novel 3.5 stars/5 stars. Even though it was a decent read, I wouldn’t have been too upset if I had never gone back and finished the novel after I had initially put it down.

 

Thank you for reading guys, I hope you enjoyed my first ever book review for my blog! 😀

On that note, I hope you all have a wonderful week, and I will see you in the next post!

Erin 🙂

Twitter: @ENordhof

Prose: https://theprose.com/ennord

 

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