I write this review with great respect for the author, who is one of my best bookish friends and has always supported me with her own writing. She asked me for an honest review, so I stayed true to my scoring system, but let me explain why this book is only a one out of five. Please beware spoilers for the following review.
“She’s in Love with a Serial Killer” is a debut book from an inexperienced indie author- and you can tell that it’s been done by herself, with no help from a professional editor, formatter, or designer. If a book has mistakes, I’ll ignore it unless it’s a good amount- and this book had a good amount of flaws. I constantly ran into spelling errors, grammar errors, formatting issues. It’s a poorly designed book, and for a reader like myself who consumes books like water, it really impacted my reading of the story, stopping and catching every little mistake and jarring my experience. It got to the point where I’d find several on a single page- or there’d be three or four pages in a row with mistakes and it made me wonder how closely this novel was looked through beyond the first draft. The lack of page numbers or chapter numbers also became extremely frustrating.
Another pet peeve of mine was the writing itself. So many sentences read in monotone, so many starting with “I”, going through every single action. One big issue that I had was the timeline of the novel. Spoiler alert, but- main character Aly finds out boyfriend is cheating, then goes and meets Teddy, stays at his house, and then finds out boyfriend is dead. Then she proceeds to fully integrate her life with Teddy in what feels like a matter of days- claiming things like his car being hers, his money being hers, his house turning into her house when she moves in. It comes off as unrealistic and immature- this is not how adults would act in a relationship. Aly gets a dog without warning or talking to Teddy, and Teddy says absolutely nothing about it. Aly orders pizza with the claim of how money is left all over Teddy’s house so she can spoil herself: NO. How wrong that is, to use someone else’s money just because you’re in a relationship and think they’ll be okay with it because they care about you. Aly grows entitled, inconsiderate, and behaves like a child, and Teddy’s reaction to her is simply a big ball of “because I love her”. The progression of the novel jumps into things without explanation, the way Aly thinks and feels about Teddy is sudden and rushed. It’s one of those “I fell in love instantly” tropes, but the poor writing for this leaves it feeling childish. Like she fell in love with him “just because”, there’s no substance here in their relationship. In truth, I feel like I read two different stories, because the way Teddy thinks about Aly in the beginning, I assumed he would be tricking her, falsely in love with her, planning on murdering her- which is not the way it ends up at all.
There’s a huge amount of inconsistencies with this novel. The way Aly and Teddy speak to each other is often either shallow or it’s like they aren’t really speaking. Aly lets things go and often doesn’t question Teddy- and when she does, it lasts for two seconds because they’re so “in love”. There was one conversation in particular where Teddy was telling her about his past, but the explanation he gave was so poor that it left me wondering how Aly just accepted that without pressing for more; it feels like Miss Tourscher left the conversation, came back to write it, and didn’t read what she had already written or ask if the dialogue made sense.
The story itself was just not fully realized to me. To me, the characters did not react like people would react. The writing was very simple, with the thinking of the characters just as rudimentary. Main character Teddy’s trauma was poorly executed, featuring a mental break and personality change that, if written better, may have been believable. But because of the shallow style it was written, it just came off as a cliche. As someone who has researched and written mental health, I cringed through his parts, his thoughts disjointed and basic. In fact, I think his desire to die was poorly portrayed, and the ending felt very out of place, as if it had come out of nowhere. Not only that, but Aly’s response to it felt… just not right, at all. It defied logic, it didn’t fit in with her character, and I just didn’t get the emotional depth that the author was going for.
Overall, my enjoyment of this book was nonexistent. It had too many flaws for me, it was too static and simplified. I don’t think enough detail went into how things went down- unless it was the constant description of mundane activities- and I don’t think there was research into a believable mental illness here. It is a story that needed more time in the oven, more skill for writing, and a lot more time and attention paid to it. I love the author and am so proud of her for publishing her first novel; but I think she needs improvement and I think that this novel will not be her best. As she keeps on with her writing, I would hope to see more time put into her craft and more attention paid to realistic dialogue, logical thinking, and overall story structure.