Second Life: midlife melodrama

SecondLifeNo doubt this will be another blockbuster best-seller and a bad movie to boot. It’s a preposterous, page-turning pot-boiler, in which dull middle-class people do dumb things for the wrong reasons. It indulges the readers’ worst appetite for twist and turns by contriving impossible coincidences and implausible scenarios. It achieves a keep-em-guessing-to-the-very-end atmosphere of uncertainty, a ‘trust no one’ mentality, although most of the ‘shocking’ moments are telegraphed a mile off.

Second Life dips an uneasy toe in the muddy waters of slightly strange sexuality and, after suitably titillating its straight-laced audience, scampers back to safe ground with that age-old message: you have an affair? Then your lover is bound to turn into a scheming psycho nutter-stalker who will ruin your cosy bourgeois existence, bring your suburban idyll blazing down in flames, and probably boil your bunny for an encore (note: no actual bunnies are boiled in this book).

Second Life will inevitably sell millions. It’s carefully choreographed, written without any particular panache but with enough expertise to hook even the most jaded reader (that would be me) with its central mystery. But to find out whodunnit, I had to plough through an almost endless mire of middle class angst, of dinner parties and house parties, of sulking teenage sons and the problems of parenthood, of bored hausfrau seeking solace from the drudgery of, err, the school run and chopping pak choi, in the arms of her seductive / sinister lover.

The heroine (she’s hardly that, but what else to call the simpering idiot?) makes a continual string of bad decisions, risking her sobriety, her partner, her son and her best friend for a shabby weekly shag with her internet-met loverboy. She kinda deserves everything she gets; not the sort of central character with any characteristics to redeem her. 

So while I soldiered through to the unfulfilling end, this wasn’t a book I enjoyed at all. I can suspend disbelief to extremes if the protagonist engages my interest and attention. But here the blend of banal mundanity and impossible stupidity left me completely cold. I rarely read mainstream ‘thrillers’ and this has reminded me why.


Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason


Second Life is available at Amazon and all the usual booksellers, but why would you bother after reading this?

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