Release Date: 04.25.17
Ross Armstrong’s forthcoming debut novel, The Watcher, is a stylish and experimental challenge — one that will surely leave many a reader scratching his or her head when the story is done, but not without a faint sense of satisfaction . . . an inkling that something unique was just experienced.
Lily, the protagonist, lives in a new apartment building with her husband, Aiden. An avid bird watcher, she has taken to watching the people in the apartment building next to hers. Though she does not know these people, she is fascinated by them — going so far as to make names and backstories up for them. Soon she witnesses a murder and becomes entirely obsessed with catching the culprit, for she suspects he lives in the apartment she has spent so much time studying. Things get dangerous, out of control, and confusing . . . needless to say, Lily is the definition of an unreliable narrator (and I don’t consider that a spoiler, as it is very much hinted at in the synopsis and apparent from page one). This is an in-depth look at a spiraling character in duress. The reader is totally inside her mind, helpless to do anything except hang on tight.
Like most reviewers have said, this novel confused me — but that’s the point. It’s intentional, though the reason for that does not become apparent until the story’s final quarter. I must admit, I spent the first 50% of this one annoyed, lost . . . intrigued, too. This one just broods, right from the start. Lily is an interesting character, for sure. The author keeps the reader at a distance from her, yet by the end one feels as if he or she fully knows this character. I can’t explain it, for this book is up to tricks I’ve ever experienced in modern fiction. I’ll say this: The Watcher contains reveals that will knock you on your ass. So buckle up.
I finished this one feeling relieved that I made it through, relieved that it was over . . . and so happy I requested an ARC. While I can’t award it a full five stars (the experimental style isn’t a full success; I don’t feel as though I fully grasped everything, either . . . maybe that’s the point?), I can give it a solid four. Recommended. The Watcher hits shelves on Tuesday; check it out if you’re looking for something off-beat and a little weird.