Review: Everything That Follows by Meg Little Reilly
CAUGHT IN THE BACKWASH, THEY HAVE LOST CONTROL OF THEIR LIVES…
For fans of Megan Abbott and Chris Bohjalian comes a novel of moral complexity about friends who must choose between self-preservation and doing the right thing in the wake of a fatal boating accident. Set in the moody off-season of Martha’s Vineyard, Everything That Follows is a plunge into the dark waters of secrets and flexible morals. The truth becomes whatever we say it is…
Around midnight, three friends take their partying from bar to boat on a misty fall evening. Just as the weather deteriorates, one of them suddenly and confusingly goes overboard. Is it an accident? The result of an unwanted advance? His body disappears quickly, silently, into the dark water. The circumstances are murky, but what is clear is that the other two need to notify the authorities. Minutes become hours become days as they hesitate, caught up in their guilt and hope that their friend has somehow made it safely to shore. As valuable time passes, they find themselves deep in a moral morass with huge implications as they struggle to move forward and live with their dark secret.
Everything That Follows was...not what I was expecting. I was expecting a thriller and instead, I got a bunch of annoying characters making the worst decisions and then trying to justify them all wrapped up with a horrible ending! It was really just a bunch of characters worrying about what they did for however many pages this book is. Some spoilers ahead.
This is the story of Kat, Sean, and Hunter and how they deal with a boating accident. This story starts off with Kat and Hunter going off on a boat with a new bartender after a night of drinking. Kat is dating Sean, has been for years, but still lives by herself and goes off with their friend Hunter and the bartender she was flirting with earlier? Okay. So Kat is drunk and a bit of an unreliable narrator as she doesn't accurately remember what happens. She thinks she pushed the guy overboard when he was sexually assaulting her, but Hunter thinks he is the one who did it. They both feel really guilty, but of course, Hunter is the f-up in his family and his dad is a politician so he doesn't want to go to the police and report what happened, so Kat doesn't. And then we start the forever long Kat agonizing about what they didn't do. She starts going crazy, doesn't sleep, doesn't leave her house, and keeps making poor decisions. Eventually Sean is dragged into it all and then it is will he tell? Things get trickier when the body shows up and they are on pins and needles seeing if someone will come to arrest them.
We also have Ashley, a grad student finishing her PhD on coastal erosion. She sleeps with Hunter one night who promptly kicks her out and then she befriends Sean and tries to sleep with him. She is also sure that the body didn't wash up the way the cops think because of the currents and such, and that Hunter, Sean, and Kat are all keeping secrets from her and it has something to do with the dead guy! And she is going to take them down! At first I thought she was alright, just doing more research and trying to help out the police and didn't know Sean's maybe ex was involved, but once you get her point of view I absolutely hated her. She was crazy. Like she was only doing this because Hunter kicked her out after sex and so she wanted to get back at him. Then when Sean rebuffs her efforts to sleep with her she loses it and is determined to take them all down. Because she is petty like that. Ugh.
Now the book is written in this detached kind of way. I never really felt like I was in the story, just reading how everyone is dealing with what is going on. What people are thinking and doing and all that, but from an outside perspective. It was alright, but not my favorite style. Now, for the most part, the story was okay. I didn't like anyone in it, well maybe Sean's mom and daughter were okay, but everyone else was annoying. I never understood why Kat was even with Sean as she didn't seem to care for him as much as she should. It was more like she wanted to belong to a family and they took her in when she got there so she stayed with him. But anyway, it was an alright story. I was really curious how it was all going to end. I was hoping something would happen. Maybe Ashley made some headway in proving they did something, maybe the cops just figured it out, or maybe Kat just lives her life and goes crazier and crazier until she is insane or something. But nope. Instead we have her go on this voyage to take her hush money (Hunter's dad wanted to pay her to make sure she kept quiet forever) to the dead guys mom, then she comes back and gets drunk before telling her friends she is back, gets picked up by the cops when she is stumbling home and pretends to sleep on their bench while they conveniently get the tox results back from the dead guy and find that he had drugs in his system case closed. So then they can all live happily ever after, so she writes Sean a note how he was so important to her and she loved him, but they can't move on from this, then runs off into the sunset with Hunter. Yep, apparently they are together now and they live happily ever after. It was...I didn't want a happily ever after. They were horrible people and didn't deserve to just forget about what they did and go on like nothing happened. Did not like. At least not the way it was written that everything suddenly wrapped up perfectly nice with a bow so suddenly. Oh, and Ashley got her dream job while Kat was delivering the hush money so she let it all go. Hurray!
Rating: ★ ★