All These Perfect Strangers Book Review

All These Perfect Strangers Book Review

Title: All These Perfect Strangers
Author: Aoife Clifford
Published: 2016, Alibi
No. of Pages: 416
Cover Price: $3.99 Kindle

Penelope Sheppard has been awarded a scholarship to a small exclusive college in Australia. The other students attending come from wealthy homes, and most are spoiled, selfish brats. It will be difficult for Pen to fit in, but her home life is less than ideal and she has issues from the past that she is trying to work through with her psychiatrist, so it’s worth a try. Such is the introduction to All these Perfect Strangers, Aoife Clifford’s debut novel. While most readers will be able to relate to the awkwardness of college life with a bunch of strangers, Pen has more challenges than most: not only is she from a very low-class home with a mother who is involved with skuzzy boyfriends, but Pen is fairly well-known due to her involvement when she was 15 in a case where a policeman was shot and she betrayed her best friend to avoid going to prison.

The story is told through Pen’s eyes, and the main characters are all college kids with major problems. Three of her acquaintances/friends end up being murdered on campus under very suspicious circumstances, and Pen becomes one of many suspects. Clifford is a good writer, and keeps the suspense going throughout the novel, and readers will most likely be on the edge. However, the characters aren’t particularly likeable, and as the story evolves, it becomes harder and harder to relate or even care about what happens to them. Pen herself isn’t really likeable – she is a seasoned liar and doesn’t seem to care about right and wrong or others. She feels a lot of guilt, but has little or no conscience. Her psychiatrist asks her to write in a diary, and this daily writing becomes Pen’s lifeline.

While the novel is well-written, it isn’t a pleasant one to read. It must be read very carefully in order to not miss important points, and while the suspense is palpable throughout, the ending isn’t much of a surprise and is very disappointing. The fact that the setting is in Australia does add some charm, but all told, this novel is depressing and sad.

Special thanks to NetGalley for supplying a review copy of this novel.

This book may be purchased at Amazon:
All These Perfect Strangers: A Novel

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