Secrets. Obsession. Murder. Victoria is about to discover just how dangerous it can be to lose yourself.
Victoria Zell doesn’t fit in, but she’s okay with that. All she needs is the company of her equally oddball boyfriend, Andrew. She doesn’t care what anyone else thinks…until magnetic, charming, mysterious Z comes into her life, and she starts lying to everyone she knows in an effort to unravel his secrets.
And then something terrible happens. Someone is dead and it’s time for Victoria to come clean. Interspersed with news clippings and police interviews, Victoria tells her story to Andrew, revealing her dark, horrible secrets…secrets that have finally come back to haunt her.
Unnatural Deeds by Cyn Balog
Publication Date: November 1, 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire
This book is definitely character-driven rather than plot-driven and that means it’s right up my alley!
The narrator, Vic, is not likable. In fact, as many others have shared in their reviews, her character is difficult to empathize with and obsessive in her focus on her classmate, Z. We get glimpses into Vic’s difficulty with socializing right from the very beginning and she shares an even more obvious struggle with severe and often debilitating anxiety – an issue that clearly has lasting impacts on her relationships with both peers and adults.
As the new kid in school and a person who immediately shows interest in Vic, it seems a no brainer that our narrator is destined to develop feelings for Z. As an outsider, I think it’s easy for the reader to judge Vic for her unhealthy obsession with Z, but I found those feelings to be realistic, despite how frightening and cringeworthy they become as the plot progresses. And since Vic is our only source of direct information, it’s important for the reader to also recognize how hard it can be to gain the full picture of events when our narrator is so unreliable and appears unhinged at times.
And it is that unreliability that I loved most about Unnatural Deeds. As the story slowly unravelled, I found myself questioning what I really understood about other character’s motives since I only could gain information through Vic’s skewed perception. This ability to make me doubt everything I’ve come to learn is an impressive quality to Balog’s writing!
This was different, I told myself. With addiction, the drug owns you. But we owned each other. Equally.
While the reader may see how illogical Vic’s reasoning is, there’s plenty of information provided that easily defends how Vic could quickly become so entwined in unhealthy relationships and so while it might be easy to become distracted by Vic’s obsessive line of thought about Z, I found it tragic yet fascinating to watch the slow unravelling towards the book’s finale. This is definitely one of those novels that you have to go into with an open mind, but for those who love character-driven stories with both unreliable and often unlikable personalities, it won’t disappoint!
Thank you Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for allowing me the opportunity to read this book before its publication date! I look forward to reading more by Cyn Balog.