Mystery/Thriller, Series

Force of Nature by Jane Harper – Aaron Falk #2

After the success of The Dry, I knew I would definitely be adding this series to my TBR list. I have anxiously been waiting to get my hands on this book, but I was unable to read it for the longest time because of my other commitments. But I finally did it! Here is my review:

34275222Summary (Goodreads): Five women go on a hike. Only four return. Jane Harper, the New York Times bestselling author of The Dry, asks: How well do you really know the people you work with?

When five colleagues are forced to go on a corporate retreat in the wilderness, they reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking down the muddy path.

But one of the women doesn’t come out of the woods. And each of her companions tells a slightly different story about what happened.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing hiker. In an investigation that takes him deep into isolated forest, Falk discovers secrets lurking in the mountains, and a tangled web of personal and professional friendship, suspicion, and betrayal among the hikers. But did that lead to murder?

Review: I’m going to start by saying this: The Dry was better. At least, that’s how I felt.

When I started reading this novel, I was hoping to have the same experience as I had with The Dry: great characters, deeply layered plot, and that buildup of tension that makes a thriller oh-so-juicy. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel any of that. This story is all about how Aaron and Cameron are looking for one of the missing women from the camping trip, who is actually their main point of contact in a fraud investigation.

But they don’t really do much.

This novel is full of Aaron walking around and thinking. Sitting in a hotel room and thinking. Driving and thinking. And he’s mostly thinking about his father and their relationship. I’ll be honest, it was quite boring. I wanted to see some active investigation going on. But there really was none. Other people were going out into the wilderness to look for the missing camper. Aaron and Cameron didn’t really go out and ask too many important questions from the other witnesses. They just talked to each other a lot, and to their bosses who only said “Get the contracts”; it was the most used phrase in the book and it drove me insane pretty quickly.

The actual interesting part of the story began around Chapter 20 for me – and this is a book with only 35 chapters. I struggled to push through to get to this point because nothing really happened. But then when I got to the end, it wasn’t that great, either. There’s such a short list of suspects that it wasn’t too hard to guess. And it all just lacked that thrill factor/twist that I was looking for.

The only thing I really loved about this book was the writing style. Each chapter was divided such that the first bit would be taking place in the present, and the second half would be recounting what had happened in the wilderness with the women, from each of their perspectives. Needless to say, I liked the latter half. The author did a fantastic job in creating a creepy vibe. I’m someone who is not very comfortable with camping and is terrified of being out in the wilderness by myself, so every time one of the women experienced fear, I felt it, too.

I also didn’t really like the characters. There just wasn’t that connection that I wanted and even though the author tried to give them backstories and substance, they fell flat for me.

In general, this novel didn’t live up to my expectations and wasn’t as good as the first book in the series. Nevertheless, I will continue to read books by this author. There is potential here, and I’m willing to give the series a shot. But for this novel, I’m giving it a 2/5 stars.

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