Someone Like Me by M.R. Carey

SHE LOOKS LIKE ME. SHE SOUNDS LIKE ME. NOW SHE’S TRYING TO TAKE MY PLACE.

Liz Kendall wouldn’t hurt a fly. She’s a gentle woman devoted to bringing up her kids in the right way, no matter how hard times get.

But there’s another side to Liz—one which is dark and malicious. A version of her who will do anything to get her way, no matter how extreme or violent.

And when this other side of her takes control, the consequences are devastating.

The only way Liz can save herself and her family is if she can find out where this new alter-ego has come from, and how she can stop it.

Someone better fucking hold me, because that was intense.

This is not a book for the faint of heart. I don’t always do these in reviews, but this merits a content warning: There are graphic depictions of domestic violence, emotional manipulation, and mental illness. If that’s not for you, please steer clear from this book.

Someone Like Me kicks off with Liz’s ex-husband, Marc, returning their kids after a weekend spent in his custody. Liz and Marc get into an argument while the kids are waiting in the car, and Marc nearly kills her. He would have killed her, if not for the alter-ego that suddenly manifested in Liz and allowed her to fight back.

For the first 20% or so of the story, it’s not clear whether there are any speculative elements. Is Liz’s alter-ego something psychological or magical? Over time, we slowly find out, and the answer is not a clear-cut as you’d think.

The other POV character is Fran, a 16-year-old girl who is still emotionally traumatized from being kidnapped as a child. She’s coping better than she used to, but her trauma still presents itself in the form of vivid hallucinations.

Don’t go into this expecting a fast read. The pacing is very slow and much of the plot focuses on the mundane rather than the fantastic. That said, if you stick with it, there are some incredible twists and turns that I never saw coming.

The story is equal parts magic realism, slice of life, horror, and hopepunk. If that seems like an unusual mix, I’d agree. This is an unusual book.

Someone Like Me is like watching a car crash in slow motion. It’s horribly painful just to witness as a bystander, but there’s a dark fascination that makes it impossible to look away. This was by no means a “fun” book, but it was a powerful and deeply thematic read.

Domestic violence, the cycle of abuse, and toxic relationships are explored in depth. Thankfully, so are the themes of family and standing up for oneself.

Carey brilliantly balances the inescapable darkness and stubborn hope in humanity. There are plenty of awful things in the world that we often don’t have the strength to face on our own. This is a story that embraces that darkness, while showing that it can be overcome… for a price.

I can already tell that this will be one of the most moving books I’ll read this year. Just like One of Us by Craig DiLouie last year, this book will have me thinking about it for a long time to come.

 

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