Pub. Date: April 18, 2017
Source: e-ARC via publisher (Thank you, Berkley Books!)
Summary: Hannah Monroe’s boyfriend, Matt, is gone. His belongings have disappeared from their house. Every call she ever made to him, every text she ever sent, every photo of him and any sign of him on social media have vanished. It’s as though their last four years together never happened.
As Hannah struggles to get through the next few days, with humiliation and recriminations whirring through her head, she knows that she’ll do whatever it takes to find him again and get answers. But as soon as her search starts, she realizes she is being led into a maze of madness and obsession. Step by suspenseful step, Hannah discovers her only way out is to come face to face with the shocking truth…
Genre: Contemporary, Psychological Thriller, Unreliable Narrator
Hannah’s day couldn’t be better. Away on a business trip in Oxford, she’s told she’s well on her way to a big-time promotion – one that will not only mean far more money, but she’ll be the youngest director her company has ever had. The 200 miles to get home are torture, she can’t wait to see the look on Matt’s face when she tells him the exciting news…only, when she gets home, his car isn’t there. Initially she doesn’t think anything of it, after all, he had told her he might be late coming home that night. It isn’t until she walks into their house that she suspects something isn’t right: could they have been burgled?
Artwork, pieces of furniture, things are missing and what’s so odd is that what’s gone isn’t necessarily expensive, what kind of person would steal some photographs by the door when the real money is in the entryway table? It isn’t until Hannah takes a closer look that she realizes everything missing belongs to Matt. In fact, the brand-new television he bought when he moved in has been replaced by her fuzzy, old tv that has been gathering dust in storage. The bedding has been changed back to plain white sheets from long ago. Going room-to-room, Hannah realizes every trace of Matt is simply gone – and it’s not just objects, Hannah quickly discovers. His phone number has been wiped from her cell along with any photo, text, or call. It’s clear Matt left, but what Hannah wants to know is why?
Oh dear. Let’s start with the good. Gone Without a Trace was a blindingly fast read that I finished in a single sitting, despite it’s near 400-page length. I was instantly drawn into the story and, like Hannah, wanted to know what on earth happened to Matt. What could have gone so wrong that he would pull this vanishing act and make it appear as though he had never existed?
Unreliable narrators are continuing to have their moment, thanks to those huge bestsellers like Gone Girl and Girl on a Train and, for the most part, I’m okay with it – if done in a believable way. Unfortunately, Gone Without a Trace totally missed the mark to the point where, after the reveal, Hannah felt like a completely different character. Her internal monologue was different, her way of speaking wasn’t the same, this was a wildly new person presented and I couldn’t get behind it.
What really sealed the book’s fate, however, was the absolutely ridiculous reveal. I read this one during a weekend and the entire time I was doing a running commentary for (my own) Matt. As we were getting closer to the truth about what happened, we started coming up with our own theories and, I’ll admit, ours were way more believable and fitting with the story than what really went down and for that, I’m extremely disappointed. This was a novel I actually wouldn’t have finished were it not for just how quick the pace was.
I’m clearly in the minority here as Gone Without a Trace is already receiving scores of high praise and a ton of buzz. While I can certainly see where the love is coming from, I just couldn’t look past the terrible reveal or the out of nowhere personality change for Hannah’s character – she came off as a completely different person and it felt as though it was Torjussen’s way of having a ~shocking and unreliable~ narrator. No thanks. I was also left with several unanswered questions (like exactly how did Matt manage to get into Hannah’s phone to erase every. single. text? Every call? Every e-mail? His own phone number?) I’m sorry to say that this one did nothing for me.