by Ciara Fineman
Mazey Sutton lost her wife a year ago in a brutal tragedy and has been struggling to cope. When she receives an invite back to the foster family that she left behind and whose main carer, Suzan, is her ex-wife’s biological mother, she knows it won’t be easy. After all, Suzan does blame Mazey for her daughter’s death. And, there is also the matter of Phoenix, her dead wife’s brother, the man she spent the evening with while her wife was murdered ….
Life 2.0 is an intriguing and enjoyable read despite the issues it confronts and there are some dark topics here. The reader is plunged straight into Mazey’s chaotic and complex life; there is a lot of drama and twists aplenty that, on the whole, work well. The prose has a really easy, readable style, it’s quite simplistic and makes for a fast paced read. The lively tempo is aided by the chapters beginning a little way on from the previous and I liked that technique; it stripped back detail to get to the heart of the plot which when it is quite involved was a good idea. Although she had been through an awful ordeal, Mazey is not always likeable; I did find she carried a sense of entitlement and an occasional lack of awareness which was frustrating. The scenes between her and Suzan were blistering in both pace and awfulness. The book is written in first person and although the reader is aware of Mazey’s thoughts and behaviour, it would have been interesting to have known Suzan’s point of view; she does come across as lacking in any empathy or sympathy towards Mazey, which in some respects is understandable but her perspective would have given the issues some extra dimension. I thought the rough and tumble of the foster family added a good distraction to the narrative. Phoenix is the seemingly stable, calming influence in the midst of the tensions and Ms Fineman is very good at dissembling the grey areas of relationships. However, I did think that there was a lack of chemistry between Mazey and Phoenix despite some explicit scenes. Yet, what begins to build suspense is quite what Phoenix is up to when he keeps disappearing. Mazey seems unable to put two and two together, but we as readers can, and it does become pretty nail-biting as you gallop towards the conclusion, which is quite heart-rending. Personally, this sub-plot was the strongest element in the book and Ms Fineman makes a brave decision to steer away from the expected ending.
Life 2.0 is an interesting book written in a naturally engaging style that tackles some unsettling issues. Well worth a read.