Book Reviews, Fiction, Horror/Thriller

Stay Awake by Megan Goldin

Like every movie and book where the character doesn’t know what the heck is going on from the moment they open their eyes, Stay Awake follows Liv, a perplexed and distressed woman who loses her memory every time she falls asleep.

Book cover for Stay Awake

Of course, because she loses her memory every time she falls asleep, she doesn’t know that falling asleep wipes the slate clean. So, a la Memento, she’s wandering around with various notes to self scrawled across her body, urging herself to STAY AWAKE… and she doesn’t know that she wrote them because of the whole amnesia thing. You can see how this is a tricky situation.

The worst thing Liv has going for her is that she wakes up with a giant bloody knife. Or maybe it’s that she somehow lost several years of her life. Or, perhaps, that said bloody knife connects her to a gory murder, in which she becomes the prime suspect.

Liv can’t trust anyone, which we learn through expository alternating viewpoints. It’s one-half stressed amnesiac, one-half police procedural from the perspective of a rookie detective. In the cop half, we discover what Liv is running from and why her brain isn’t cooperating.

This was nicely paced, a fast jaunt through a plot with just enough twists and turns to keep me turning pages. Although I correctly predicted whodunnit about halfway through, I still wanted to know exactly how it happened. 

Without spoiling it, if you don’t figure it out halfway through yourself, I wish Goldin had spent more time on the antagonist’s motivations. The rest of the story was detailed, but that part seemed lacking and would’ve made the book a bit more interesting — if you’re putting effort into trying to kill off an amnesiac with terrible PTSD, it should be for a damn good reason, right?

That said, it’s a minor flaw. This book is a good one if you’re looking for a quick, punchy read.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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