Into the Dark - Alison Gaylin

Oops...It's a series. Damn. I have not read the first book with Brenna Spencer, And She Was. I’m a Random Order Reader this time around. Into the Dark works as is reading out of order with no previous knowledge of the author or the characters. Of course, I cannot answer how it works as a series and I can't know how different reading it would be, if I had done it in order. The Neff case, the first book's mystery, itself isn't discussed at all (just referenced to) but there's personal character flashbacks. While reading I kept thinking “This feels like a series...” I wasn’t lost or confused though. Just curious and wondering a bit: “Why this other case is such a big deal?” and “Why everyone started acting differently because of it?” As of now, I do plan on reading the first book and continuing the series, but it's not a burning need. Just keeping an eye out and if I get into the mood for this kind of read, I know which books to turn to. Brenna's condition is an interesting condition for a protagonist to have and it's a difficult one to include in text, as you'll find out.

Can a stranger share your memories?
Series: Brenna Spencer #2 Genre:Mystery, Suspense/Thriller, Age: Adult Format: MMP ARC, 384 pgs. Source: Goodreads First Reads Giveaway for review purposes Rating: 2.5 Recommendable? Conditionally
That's the question that haunts Brenna Spector when she first sees footage of missing webcam performer Lula Belle. Naked but hidden in shadow, the "performance artist" shares her deepest, darkest secrets with her unseen male audience . . . secrets that, to Brenna, are chillingly familiar. Brenna has perfect memory, able to recall in astonishing detail every moment of every day of her adult life. But her childhood—those carefree years before the traumatic disappearance of her sister, Clea—is frustratingly vague. When Brenna listens to the stories Lula Belle tells her audience, stories only Brenna and Clea could know, those years come to life again in vivid detail. Convinced the missing internet performer has ties to her sister, Brenna takes the case—and in her quest for Lula Belle unravels a web of obsession, sex, guilt, and murder that could regain her family . . . or cost her life. How can you forgive and forget when you can never forget?
The Good The Bad & The Other
Intriguing twist on the “perfect memory” or similar “perfect trait for case-solving with personal drawbacks” but the execution made it a hard read. Flashbacks were annoying at first and hard to get used to
Tense mystery and suspense, guessing and uncertainty til the end but if I paid attention and tried solving it while reading, I don't think it'd be as successful
Last sentence rocked Brenna was stupid and whiny sometimes. Needs character progression or I'm done with the series
The cover Tacky “Great new read, Great low price!” sticker that ruins the cover
  Missing common sense at times, raising minor issues
ARCREVIEW Icon Adult Icon Mystery Icon Suspense/Thriller Icon Bad Boy Icon Mixed Bag Icon


The opening scene I had to re-read it because it was so jarring trying to figure out WTF. Re-reading and flipping back pages was common because of the massively detailed, hard to parse, constant flashbacks out of nowhere. Most often the flashbacks were pointless, except to properly show what Brenna had to cope with. In that sense, the flashbacks were effective.


I was just as tired, bored and frustrated with the flashbacks as Brenna. It was a rocky start but I pressed on though because I was intrigued by the story. It became more enjoyable further along. I adjusted to Brenna's head and it picked up a bit after 100 pages. Then it really ramped up after another hundred. The ending was as solid as the beginning was unsure.


Brenna & Cast: Great If You Can Get Past Things Like Sexism


Brenna, and I didn't really mesh at first because all the flashbacks. After adjusting, I liked her and wasn't completely annoyed with all her whining due to the problems caused by her hyperthymesia, except about things that were all her fault. Then there were times where I questioned her judgment and wanted to smack some sense into her.


All in all, Brenna was just okay. Considering how it ended I'm hopeful for her character progression in the next book, which shouldn't be such a battle for me to get into. But if it's more of the same, I'll probably DNF it.


Maya, Brenna's daughter, I like and feel for considering she's stuck loving her mother and hating what her mother does. I hope Brenna does step it up in the next book because I don't know if I can deal with more of Brenna's neglect. Yeah, yeah, extenuating circumstances and Brenna means well but it seems like a pattern of behavior to me. And fuck that nonsense.


Trent is a douchebag, even Brenna thinks so. He'd belong on the Jersey Shore with the rest of the Guidos but he's a smart tech geek. Vin Diesel, Trent's idol, is a D&D nerd (I love swooning over THAT guy, seriously) but he's not a douche about dating like Trent. Trent is an often disgusting player, and doesn't stop hitting on women, even after they repeatedly say no. Creepy, harasser, much?


I'd like to get to know Trent under all that false sexist bravado and there's glimpses of him being decent but unless you're a cat or his friend, steer clear of Trent. He's got that “bad boy with a heart of gold” crap going on under all that spray tan and hair gel, which I loathe because far too many people give sexist shit a pass because of that.


Sure, some of the funniest moments comes from Trent (dearly needed in the sad ass case and MC) and he's helpful on the case. However, every time he talks to or about women, I want to smack him quiet. And that's a hard feeling to shake, even when he's not actively spouting bullshit.


Now, Nick I liked except for his "Men do this, women do that" attitude. Gods, far too much sexist crap in this book and coming from characters we're supposed to like no less. Worse yet, I'd like them with no hesitation if it wasn't for this. Brenna isn't having any of it at least. For now anyways, there's some playful banter between the two. I hope it stays this way but a woman MC hardly ever stays single for long and I'm not seeing any other possibilities.


(Un)Surprisingly, I Liked the Mystery but….


The mystery had me turning pages as improbably twisted and convoluted as it was. Perfect crime show hype, just ignore the junk behind the curtain. I didn't guess til the end how it would all come together. Hindsight shows I could have seen it coming but meh. I didn't pay attention to all the pieces when reading. I wouldn't be surprised if someone else does though and finds it obvious. Parts of the ending just rocked, others made me go "Ohhhhhhhh" but nothing really shocked. The last line is killer though.


While I did have to adjust to time jumping, the writing itself was great. Here's some quotes I like: On page 40,

The day had gone where it always went - in and out of wormholes, with Brenna swallowed up by memories, then snapping herself back to reality. Back and forth, back and forth.

On pg. 57,

She would've been hard-pressed to find any item of apparel that tried half as hard as that bag did.

On page 80,

It was a Tudor three-story walk up on a street that happened to be full of them. But it stood out from the others in that it was literally crawling with ivy. Brenna normally liked a little ivy on old buildings - she found it cozy and collegiate-but in this case it just seemed liked a symptom of decay, the plant devouring the frail building, pulling it back into the earth. Someone had put a wreath on the front door, a big, clumsy thing, dripping Christmas bells. But it only added to the feeling-the Ivy Monster's bejeweled sidekick.


Minor Things That Bothered Me:


....How do they expect to keep these violent happenings (with police involvement, no less) hidden from Maya's father and stepmother? They don't watch the news? For crying out loud, Faith (the stepmom) is a reporter!


Speaking of which, the police force seems awfully incompetent since they didn't really investigate, didn't ask anyone any questions. Of course, it doesn't help that Brenna didn't report half the stuff either. Yeah, smart move Brenna.


Okay, so P.I's going it alone and a bumbling police force are standards in this genre but usually the reasons for not going to the police are talked about. That's the rub, it was never brought up. Silence was just a given. Am I just suppose to assume why? There's two sentences brought up about Brenna's issue with the police force but it wasn't regarding why she doesn't report things like a normal person. Is my answer in the first book? If you don't talk about it, it seems like the characters were too stupid to think of going to police. Whatever the reason, the apparent lack of common sense irritated me.



For every positive aspect, there's a downside and it didn't get going for me until halfway through. But there's a protagonist with an interesting condition and a crime show type case to follow. Now if only those damn characters didn't make it so hard.


Recommended for:

Mystery and Suspense/Thriller fans if you can accept or ignore some problems. Updated on 9/17/2015 for better editing, new rating system, and formatting with new template.