Reviewed by Emma Crowley
When Lauren takes a photo of a stranger on a beach and shares it online, she has no idea what will come of that single click.
Her daughters are surprised that she posted a photo without consent, but it’s only when she starts to get anonymous messages about the woman on the beach that she deletes the photo. It’s too little too late, and the messages escalate, prompting Lauren to confess to the woman. The woman has her own dark story, one that might explain the messages, but Lauren isn’t convinced. Then her ex-husband begins to harass her, telling her she shares too much online and brought this on herself.
She’s also dealing with other problems. A difficult client at work starts to show up in places he shouldn’t be. Her younger daughter is behaving out of character and Lauren can’t work out what’s wrong. And the cracks are literally beginning to show in her old South Dublin house, mirroring the cracks in her carefully curated life.
Meanwhile, the messages from the internet troll become more personal and more vindictive. Her friends feel she should stand up to her stalker, but Lauren isn’t so sure. And then she makes one small mistake that brings everything tumbling down.
Many thanks to Poolbeg for my copy of One Click to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.
I left Andrea Mara's début The Other Side of the Wall sitting far too long on my TBR pile and given how brilliant it was there was no way I was going to make the same mistake twice. As soon as I had finished the book I was reading when her second book One Click popped through my letterbox I was all over this book and didn't leave it out of my hands until I had read every word of another fantastic and outstanding book. Everything else got pushed to one side and no one was to disturb me as I was all consumed in the story of Lauren and how one snapshot taken in all innocence can lead to the most devastating, chilling and disturbing of consequences. Yes, although I couldn't wait to read this book, there was a very small amount of trepidation. Simply because there is always that worry in the back of your head having loved a début so much, you wonder can the author do the same again? Can she have you rapidly turning the pages, hooked as to the stalker was? Will she leave you chilled to the bone by some of the actions ? Will you be attempting to guess the culprit and then be thrown so many red herrings that you just don’t have a clue as to what could really be going?
Well Andrea Mara delivered on all these questions and even more. One Click is another astounding book that proves The Other Side of the Wall was no one hit wonder and it deserved every ounce of praise heaped upon it. Because the same can be said for this book, and no I can't choose between the two as to which was better and that's saying something for me as usually I rapidly form very strong opinions with regard to books and can easily separate one from another as to my preference. Not here, both of the authors books so far have been incredible and given crime/thrillers wouldn't be my go to genre of choice, Andrea Mara has certainly done an awful lot to persuade me that I shouldn't push this genre to the kerb in favour of always staying in my comfort zone when it comes to my reading choices.
One Small Click leads to so many unwanted and disastrous consequences. One photo couldn't hurt could it? If only psychologist Lauren, away on holiday in Italy with her two girls had not clicked and taken that photo on the beach. A lone woman sitting on the sand with her face upturned to the sun. It was a study of a woman having a moment in time. The woman looked so happy and chilled that Lauren had the photo taken and uploaded before she knew what she was doing? Consent didn't come into it at all. The photo with the description how I wish I spent my twenties attracts lots of attention mostly good but then things start to take a strange, sinister and dangerous turn. Lauren starts to receive menacing notifications wanting to know who the woman is. These comments come thick and fast and are unrelenting.
Lauren is being hounded and all because she took a photo but once something is out out there online it is there forever even if you delete it. Having warned her daughters always to be careful, Lauren now regrets she didn't take her own advice. Andrea Mara has cleverly highlighted the affects of social media today., how we all use it on a daily basis and yes to some degree we all have an addiction. But social media can bring joy, laughter and friendship but this book focuses on the more seedier side and what happens when things go wrong and one can't get out of the hole they are sliding ever deeper into.
I loved how there was no messing around setting up the story. We were straight into the action and it was full of mystery and intrigue. I desperately wanted to know who the stalker was and what was their motivation? What made them so desperate to know who the woman in the photo was? Why were they so obsessed with her? Would this even have happened if Lauren hadn't gotten carried away with herself and taken the photo when she shouldn't have? Do we even think about things like this when we ourselves are out in public? Well, I sure do now after reading this book. This book could have all been about identifying said woman of the photo but I thought it was clever that Lauren is able to find her before she returns home to Dublin and American Cleo Holloway was able to share her story with Lauren.
Lauren soon realises she misjudged the happiness and contentment that radiated from the picture. So there must have been another strand to the story as it couldn't have ended so soon. Identifying the woman was not the focus of this book it was more why she was being targeted and what happens to Lauren as a result. We are taken back to delve deeper into Cleo's story and it makes for a dark and twisted tale. Possession, compulsion, lies, secrets and a cloying sense of suffocation abound. So many twists and turns that I would never have thought possible given this all started with someone taking a random picture. It was all so cleverly woven together and I loved how we were presented with both Lauren and Cleo's perspectives.
But when Lauren returns home the messages continue to come and she doesn't know how to handle them. She is separated from husband Dave and feels she has no-one to confide in bar Cleo about what is going on. What really unnerved me was that the stalker, for that is what they become, literally knew every move that Lauren and the girls made. Everything really got under your skin and to say I was worried for Lauren was an understatement. Internet trolling seemed like something that you just read about or see on the television and you never think it will happen to you but now Lauren realises this is not the case. But this story proves the ordinary, run of the mill normal person can be affected too.
Lauren feels overwhelmed and guilty too, in the fact that she brought everything on herself and now the repercussions are more far reaching than she ever imagined possible. Lauren feels lost, vulnerable, foolish and perhaps most crucially powerless. Her life is being taken out of her hands but you can't control what other people do. You can't manage their motivations and intentions but you can work to put a stop to this and Lauren won't rest until she has the answers. She no longer wants to hear the sound of a notification coming in, then checking to see what malice and hatred is being poured forth.
The temptation to take a sneak peek to the end of the book was very very strong for me. Normally, this idea wouldn't even enter my head, it's like some form of betrayal by skipping parts and then going back and reading, I would openly criticise people who do this with every book. I consider it a book sin so to speak but I just had this overwhelming sense of desperation wanting to know who it was and why they did everything that unfolded throughout the story. That's testament to the phenomenal writing from Andrea Mara that just better and better with each turn of the page. Suffice to say I held myself in check and resisted and waited until I reached the dramatic climax and reveal and boy was I glad I did. I will say whilst reading this book I did feel guilty and ashamed because I had this awful sneaking suspicion as to who the stalker actually was. I kept thinking my feeling couldn't be correct that surely the author would not do such a thing but it was the way certain sentences were interwoven amongst different scenarios that made me feel this way. I gave this book to a friend to read and afterwards she said oh I thought it was so and so and I was like yes I thought the exact same. But either we were reading into this totally wrong or the author wrote it in such a way to have us thinking this person could be behind all the madness. Thankfully, I was barking up the totally wrong alley.
All kinds of situations, reasons and every character were rushing through my head the faster I read in order to reach the end. Andrea Mara had me second guessing at every word and statement that came out of characters mouths. I was certainly reading way more into things than I should have. But suffice to say there was no way I was going to bed until I knew what the definitive outcome was. For the last 50 pages the words passed by in a blur as we raced to the epic conclusion and we were granted that mind blowing twist that this genre definitely has to have.
Andrea Mara has done herself proud with One Click and has shown what a talented author she is. Clearly she loves writing and loves providing her readers with an exhilarating tale that is thrilling, tense and powerful with a plot and characters you won't forget in a hurry. Don't even think about leaving this book on the bookshelves, it is astonishing and mind blowing. Now if we could only have another book from Andrea before the year is out I would be one very very happy reader.
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