Book Review – Mad by Chloé Esposito

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I don’t tend to pick my reads based on anything other than random choice. As I’ve discussed before, I’m not the kind of person who sticks to my TBR at all. I also don’t really tend to pick seasonal reads either. Well, I guess aside from reading Christmas/Winter related novels in November and December but that’s just common sense. Still, there is something about Summer time that just gets me wanting to read some trash. And I’m talking full on trash. Like the worst of the worst. There’s just something about reading in the sun that requires something absolutely outrageous. So, this year, when I went on holiday recently I took a piece of trash that I’ve been wanting to read for ages. I was so desperate, in fact, that I bought a cheap hardback copy despite already owning it on my Kindle. The reason I was so desperate? It was about twins. I’m a twin (something I’ve mentioned way too often during my 30th birthday year) and am always interested in narratives that relate to twins in some way. So a trashy novel about twins? It was the only thing I was looking forward to reading this August.

Bad by Chloé Esposito is the first in a trilogy of novels in her Mad, Bad, and Dangerous To Know series. It introduces us to Alvina; a young woman who has always lived in the shadow of her more successful sister Beth. Alvina lives in a horrible flat share in London and works at a job she hates. Beth lives with a hunky Italian in absolute luxury. As she sees it, Beth is living the life that Alvina deserves with the man she was meant to end up with. After she loses both her job and her home, Alvina takes the chance to visit her twin for an all expenses paid holiday. A series of unexpected events sees Beth end up dead and Alvina being forced to take her place. From that point on, it is a rollercoaster of sex, drugs, and bloodshed as Alvina learns more and more secrets hiding behind the luxurious façade of her sister’s life.

I can’t put into words just how much I wanted to like this book. It sounded absolutely outrageous and the opening was so full of potential. Alvina’s voice was so uncensored and refreshing that I wanted to go on this adventure with her. I wanted to see her come face-to-face with the identical twin who she hated and steal her life. It all sounded so simple and effective. I was expecting to see Alvina manipulate her way into Beth’s shoes and seduce her husband. Instead, it all went far too Desperate Housewives for my liking. I know this is a trashy thriller but somewhere around the fourth chapter it went from funny trash to stupid trash.

I know expecting good character development from this book was a bad idea but Alvina as a character is even less inspired than the normal women you see in these novels. She goes from being a young woman who likes drinking and meeting men on Tinder to being an unstoppable murderess in the space of about 20 pages. She’s not an exciting femme fatale or sociopath. It’s just so unbelievable. And really irritating. Her narrative started out as kind of funny and irreverent. It quickly became tiresome, boring, and tragically forced. Chloé Esposito needs to get a better idea of what counts as funny and what is simply hyperbole. This is a book that is more interested in pushing things to the limit than it is in keeping control of its narrative. I know this was a debut novel but with writing this terrible it’s amazing this trilogy was so sought after.

And anyone out there who says this book is sexy is fucking ridiculous! This features some of the worst written sex scenes I’ve ever read. It’s entirely possible that Esposito was the ghost writer for Katie Price’s novels because I haven’t read anything outside of Price’s novels that manages to be so pornographic yet so unsexy at the same time. It’s outrageous. I know there are basically no writers out there who can adequately translate sex onto the page but this is the kind of shit that you’d normally find in really bad fanfiction written by 13 year olds who’ve never experienced it. Other than the kind of women who loved 50 Shades of Gray, I don’t know who would find this book titillating. Guys, if you want sexy go out and read some goddamn Henry Miller and do it properly, okay.

God, it’s been ages since I’ve been this angry about a book. Probably not since the god awful One Of Us Is Lying have I actually wanted an author to give me my time back. I’m fairly positive that this book actually sucked out some of my intelligence with every page turn. It’s a mess. Bad is a book that manages to be both too fast-paced and far too slow at the same time. The narrative takes place so quickly you can barely keep up but there is so much unnecessary description that it feels like it’s never going to end. There is no subtlety or, indeed, talent on show in the writing and the characters are all so flat and clichéd. I applaud any book that wants to show that women can be dark and dangerous too but this isn’t the way to do it. This isn’t the book to do anything but make 50 Shades seem more like Ulysses.

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