Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall
288 pages | Published May 3rd, 2018
Rating: 4/5 stars
This is a love story. Mike’s love story.
Mike Hayes fought his way out of a brutal childhood and into a quiet, if lonely life, before he met Verity Metcalf. V taught him about love, and in return, Mike has dedicated his life to making her happy. He’s found the perfect home, the perfect job, he’s sculpted himself into the physical ideal V has always wanted. He knows they’ll be blissfully happy together.
It doesn’t matter that she hasn’t been returning his emails or phone calls.
It doesn’t matter that she says she’s marrying Angus.
It’s all just part of the secret game they used to play. If Mike watches V closely, he’ll see the signs. If he keeps track of her every move he’ll know just when to come to her rescue…
I went into this book with high expectations after watching two booktubers’ reviews. They absolutely loved it and said that once they started, they could not put it down. However, I was a bit disappointed when I finally picked it up and found that I did not feel very connected to the story, and that I could definitely put the book down and read something else. I did not give up though, because I was still intrigued and had those awesome 4-star reviews in the back of my mind – and it definitely paid off!
As you can probably tell from the synopsis, this book follows Mike, a man who is utterly obsessed with his ex-girlfriend, Verity, who broke up with him a few months ago. They used to play this sex game during their relationship, and when he gets an invitation to her wedding (to another man, of course), he immediately thinks that what she is doing is part of the game – the ultimate version of that game, so that they can stay together and live happily ever after. He has molded his life – and body – according to Verity’s preferences and is truly convinced that she will move into the mansion that he bought and is modifying based on her taste.
The book starts off as a purely psychological thriller but later evolves into a legal thriller – if that’s even a thing -, which I very much enjoyed. It reminded me of Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land because of the trial and legal aspects that are featured in it, and also because of the mental confusion in both main characters’ minds.
Comparisons between Mike and Joe from You by Caroline Kepnes are nearly impossible to avoid, due to the similarities between the two characters. However, I must say that Joe is waaaaaay more likable than Mike is, and even though Joe’s actions are worse, I still ‘like’ him better. Besides, Joe is funny as hell, whereas Mike is just… insane. There’s something about Mike that is incredibly disturbing to me. It’s not necessarily his actions that creep me out, it’s the way he thinks and distorts everything in his mind – it made my skin crawl, and it caused the reading experience to be exhausting at times because I kept mentally yelling at him to stop. that. shit. I did feel some sort of empathy for him at a certain point, but then he proved himself to be completely out of his mind. Now, I’m no psychiatrist, but this man has got to have some kind of mental disturbance. Nothing that anyone ever says to him, including whatever Verity tells him herself, will deter his thinking that she is in love with him and just messing around with his feelings by, you know, moving on with her fucking life and GETTING MARRIED. Can you tell Mike pisses me off? Because he pisses me off.
Besides Mike’s utterly chilling and deranged mind, there was another thing that I didn’t like about this book: the ending. I’m not sure whether I’ve talked about my repugnance for open endings, but I fucking hate them. JUST TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED OH MY GOD 😡 Anyway, this has an open ending that could, potentially, satisfy some readers, but I was left with the urge to throw the damn book against the wall.
I know it might seem like I hated this book, but I swear I actually enjoyed it 😄 There are no chapters in Our Kind of Cruelty, only three main parts and slight divisions of the text within each of them. Part I was the least appealing to me, and the one I felt was not that addictive. But once Part I was coming to an end and Part II started, that’s when I got really into the story and did not want to put it down. In fact, the only reason I put it down was because I had to go to work, and the book didn’t leave my mind until I came back home and finished it. I read over 200 pages in one day, while the first 60 or so were slowly read over the course of two weeks – so be patient, people, it gets way better!! 😉 I can’t tell you why I wanted to keep reading in order to find out what would happen next because it will spoil many things, but I sure got addicted to the book once there was more action.
I understand that Mike’s fucked up mind is probably intended to be exactly the reason why you should enjoy this book, but I just couldn’t thoroughly enjoy that part. He gave me chills and made me feel very uncomfortable. However, the plot is very well thought-out, and the sex game adds a lot to it, becoming a central point of the book. As I haven’t read many books like this, I found Our Kind of Cruelty to be quite a refreshing story, and the fact that it is narrated by an unreliable (a.k.a. batshit crazy) character makes it all the more intriguing.
Overall, Our Kind of Cruelty is a chilling, slow-burning read that features the most deranged main character I’ve ever had the pleasure to read about. If you’re into psychological thrillers and stalker stories, you’re going to love this one – probably even more than me!
I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on Our Kind of Cruelty and if you’d like, check out my other book reviews!
Have you read this book? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments!
Thank you so much for reading,
I’ll see you in my next post ♡