When they were kids, obedient Blythe and bad boy Tucker became best friends when they got revenge on their babysitter by throwing a rock through her car window. It’s an act that forges an unbreakable bond, but recent events have them pretending to keep their distance. Until friend Gabrielle starts to act weird and the principal at their corporate owned STEM school is murdered. Can Blythe, Tucker and their friends figure out what’s really going on and can they trust their own families?
Kelley Armstrong is a Canadian best selling author whose books have been beloved for more than 20 years. She has written some well loved fantasy that she’s well known for, including the Bitten series. This book is young adult fiction, set in a high school, with more of a science fiction slant.
I love the dark, gritty cover of this book and was drawn to the mysterious school which is sponsored and run by a science lab that the characters parents all work for. It has that Buffy meets Dark Academia thing that I thought sounded very intriguing. You know fairly early on that there must be some kind of shady program going on with the school and they’re doing something to the students, creating a curious mystery that you find yourself invested in. I also liked the lead characters, the group of high school friends who’ve known each other for years, each with their own story that we unravel in the course of the book.
Its a great set up for the book, and I wanted to like this one, but as it goes forward, the plot falters a little bit, losing it’s way and not offering much in the way of twists and turns that we didn’t see coming. It feels a little unsatisfying and some characters feel like they were added in for one or two plot points, or as tokens, and then forgotten about or underutilised. It feels a little unsatisfying, but not terrible.
The bigger issue I have is the books conclusion: It seems to gloss over narcissistic and sociopathic personality disorders as though they’re cute. It’s ok if your friend is a violent and manipulative psychopath, if they murder or kidnap people, as long as they like you. Apparently, its fine as long as they’re “not a danger to anyone who doesn’t deserve it”. Who decides that? What happens when they decide you deserve it? The book doesn’t show the love bombing, gaslighting, abuse and other toxic and dangerous behaviour of these disorders and makes them seem like a neurodivergent personality type that’s just misunderstood, romanticising it in such a way that it suggests that the people with these personality disorders can be loving towards special people who just understand them. Phew! The book also says at one point that no one knows or agrees on a definition of what these personality types are, which is absolutely untrue! I think that’s really dangerous. Especially if this book is aimed at younger readers. The wishful thinking that you can change someone who is abusive by just offering them the understanding that they never had, or by being special in some way, permeates this book, and it worries me.
This book contains murder, violence, trauma, mind control, mental health issues, abusive relationships, kidnapping, and it also mentions paedophilia and sexual assault. I’d suggest a trigger warning, but these themes and subjects even seem to be turning up in so much recent fiction of all genres that it seems redundant.
Read It If: it’s not a badly written book, though it has a couple of flaws, but it’s message that narcissists and sociopaths are just misunderstood, and murder is OK if you didn’t really mean it, seems very questionable.
Thank you to the publisher for the copy of this book for review.
2 thoughts on “Someone Is Always Watching by Kelley Armstrong”
That book cover is incredible!!
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It is, I agree!
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