Format: Kindle edition
Published: 25th July 2017 by Bantam
Genres: Thriller, suspense
Rating: ★ ★ ★
Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.
The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter… Never mention The Pact to anyone.
Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples. And then one of them breaks the rules. The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule. For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.
I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this novel. It’s a bit of a slow-burner, but at the same time, it’s never not enjoyable to read. The novel is told through Jake’s perspective – he talks about how much he loves Alice and how they got married and how they came across The Pact, something of a cult that brings law into marriage. If you don’t pick up that phone call from your spouse, if you’re emotionally unfaithful, The Pact will punish you for it.
Whenever I feel old […] Alice tells me to imagine taking a picture of myself, then to imagine myself twenty years in the future looking at that picture, thinking how young I looked, hoping that I had enjoyed or at least recognised my youth.
The goal of The Pact is to make marriages last. And it does just this – Jake is pleased when Alice comes home earlier from work, and it aids their marriage. Except when Jake and Alice learn that the key to The Pact’s success if that couples who don’t fit in mysteriously disappear. Through prison sentences and torture, Alice and Jake have to find a way of leaving The Pact while holding onto their lives.
Sometimes you just have to walk back across that burning bridge.
This sounds like an exceptionally suspenseful novel. On Goodreads, it’s marketed as a thriller. But for me, it didn’t really have that fast-paced element, except towards the end. It was suspenseful when Alice and Jake were forcefully taken away, and when they went on the run – but it was also anticlimactic in the sense that the build-up didn’t quite match the end result.
The boy is picking the starfish up and throwing them back into the water. The academic approaches and asks, “What are you doing?” And the boy tells him that the tide is going out and the starfish will die. Confused, the academic says, “But there are so many, millions even, how can it matter?” The boy leans down, picks one up, and throws it far out into the ocean. He smiles and says, “It matters for that one.”
I feel this is more a fault of marketing, perhaps. Because for me, I enjoyed this novel as more of a “books that make you think” novel. I’ve never thought harder about the concept of marriage and why it’s so unsuccessful these days. Also, with Jake’s insight as a relationships counsellor, I enjoyed reading the facts about marriage and generally life itself.
The fact of couples coming together is based more upon timing and circumstance than magic.
To summarise, this was a really enjoyable book to read. I finished it in a day because it was that good. I just wouldn’t say it’s particularly a thriller, perhaps something of a dystopian mystery novel, but definitely a philosophical book that provides a deep insight to marriage.