Your Life Is Mine

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

The aftermath of life after being a part of a mass shooting at a mall. And your parents are the ones who did it. That's the story behind Your Life is Mine- Blanche is an up and coming film maker with a dark secret- her parents are the ones who opened fire at a mall in broad daylight when she was a little girl, all because of her father's cult ideologies summed up with one manifesto- your life is mine. Blanche is forced to relive her horrific past when her mother dies and a police investigation opens up about who the killer is. Can you ever really recover from being raised by sociopaths? I found it a pretty interesting read overall.
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Wow what a story! Kept me guessing till the end!  I highly recommend this book! Please read when you have enough time to read it all tomorrow n be sitting though 🙂
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The premise of this story is what originally caught my attention and on its own could have been quite compelling. However,the style of writing but in particular the stilted, awkward and unrealistic dialogue made me want to just bang my head against the wall and ultimately made me lose interest in the story and its outcome. If you’ve never read a psychological thriller, let this not be your first one. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster fir providing a digital copy in return for an honest, unbiased review.
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What type of day was required for the Harlow Mall mass murder? The day when the shopping centre was host to a shooting spree. Bright and shimmering in contrast to the act, or fogbound and dark in compliance. 
It may have been neither of these specifically when Charles Varner opened fire with his Beretta, his daughter watching from the food court railing one floor above. Blanche was seven years old in 1996 when the killing took place. 
From a trailer park in Stilford, California, Varner led his cult Your Life Is Mine, spouting the tenants he called The Varner 6:
1.	Chaos is our natural state. Violence reminds us of that.
2.	Leadership is essential, even in chaos
3.	Obedience = Faith.
4.	Spread our laws through action: keep your allegiance secret.
5.	There is no justice or peace in civilization. Only in chaos.
6.	The only order in chaos is death
What may strike you about this ideology is how inane the cult is, meaningless and rage driven. Profoundly, profound-less. Varner recruited the gullible, the estranged, including bitter, sexually frustrated young men. All of those who searched for something to believe in to justify their violence and mania. 

With his wife Crissy at Varner’s side, Blanche is taught to hide her emotions, shoot a gun and prepare for chaos. She became Varner’s sponge, sucking in all the rhetoric she knew he’d test her on. Together, her parents brainwashed her.

After the mall shooting Blanche moves into the house of her friend Jaya, and her mother Padma. There, with their help, she spends two years healing and creating an anonymous life at a new school. Twenty years on, going by the last name Potter, she is a documentary film maker. One who creates films about other murderous acts.

On the day her mother shows up at a film site, Blanche feels threatened, and terrified by Chrissy’s words, “Your Life is Mine is bigger than us. It’s bigger than our world. We’re going to let the bullets loose again.”
All Blanche wants is to get away from what her mother is saying to her, “Not that you need to be afraid. You, of all people should never be afraid. You’re the most important piece of all of this, Blanche. For when it happens again.”

Crissy’s words were as circuitous and non-specific as Varner’s had always been. Blanche is left with haunted memories and a slow-burning dread as she escapes from her mother’s presence in a crew truck from the lot. This scene in the book is well executed and serves the storyline well. 

When her mother is found murdered, Blanche goes back to Stilford. She needs to see Crissy’s body, to make sure she is dead. Then, perhaps whatever it was she had been talking about would cease to exist. The sad truth of it was, that it was never going to be that way. 

Ripley is an intelligent writer. However, you’ll find the characters have a discernable lack of depth which can at times can make the storyline seem flat. Despite this, the book premise is solid, and different enough to draw you in. The tension is cold, and compelling. It’s suspenseful, with an unfolding and grim presage of what is to come
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Main protagonist Blanche thought she’d put the past and the memory of her father’s crimes behind her, but they’ve come back full force. She’s a dynamic character, full of depth and her strong personality and relationships are well executed. Nathan Ripley’s descriptive writing draws you in. He divulges secrets and backstory at all the right moments, leading the reader to the intense, page-turning conclusion. 

More than just a fast-paced thriller, Your Life Is Mine delves into the real horror of mass spree killings - the aftermath and effects on the families of both the victims and the killers.
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Blanche has spent her life trying to forget and distance herself from her past.  Being the daughter of a deceased cult-leader and murderer is hard enough, but then another murder happens and Blanche is spinning in the past and in the present. 
A quick paced thriller. A good read.  At times, I struggled to connect with the characters. 

*I received an advanced reader's copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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Nathan Ripley's debut novel Find You in the Dark was deliciously dark and creepy. His second novel, Your Life is Mine, is just as dark.

Blanche Potter ran from her past and never returned - until the murder of her mother Crissy. She finally returns to her home -  to the town where her father, Chuck Varner, went on a killing spree in a crowded mall. He saw himself as a leader - the head of a self created cult. Blanche grew up listening the doctrine her mother and father espoused. And it looks like Crissy continued the 'teachings' after Chuck's death, keeping Chuck's legacy alive.

Blanche's arrival is immediately met by a police officer who seems intent on not investigating Crissy's death. I was a little surprised that Blanche didn't push harder here. A journalist named Emil who knows who knows Blanche really is, is also there - intent on using Blanche's life to write an exposé.

Your Life is Mine is driven by Blanche, but Emil is also given a voice. He too has more than a few issues with his parent.

Blanche ran, but you can't escape that kind of upbringing. She is mentally scarred, scars she has kept hidden from her best friend Jaya. Ripley does a good job of imagining how a survivor of such an upbringing might turn out. How her outlook on life might be, what paths in life she might choose, what relationships might look like after such trauma. The relationship between Blanche and Jaya goes into much detail. Despite her past, I did find it hard to connect with Blanche. I found myself drawn more to Jaya.

Just as disturbing are the 'lessons' and 'wisdom' that Chuck preached. But they are topped by those willing to buy into his vision. This is unfortunately not far-fetched at all.

Ripley gives us some twists along the way to the final conclusion. There are some clues along the way, so they weren't completely unexpected. The build up to an inevitable, final confrontation keeps building and takes most of the book. I did find the resolution happened much quicker than I expected and the speed of those final chapters left me slightly underwhelmed with the conclusion.

Ripley's writing is very readable. I liked the first book better, but will absolutely read what he writes next.
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I honestly had a hard time connecting with this book. It was slow and disjointed at times. It was just lacking something I couldn’t put my finger on. This author’s previous book was more like what I was expecting so it was a let down of sorts. Still an ok book but not for me.
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Your Life is Mine

When Nathan Ripley starts a story, you get pulled in pronto. His turns of phrase, his descriptive language; it’s sharp and demands your attention. The main character, Blanche, who’s father was a cult leader and mall shooter, has a quick wit and sardonic sass, which moves the dialogue at a pleasing pace. Ripley certainly has command of the English language, which you’ll notice and smile to yourself yet it’s not smug. You have to come to care about Blanche in order to move through the dense details of her past (which I failed to do...) and invest in what happens next. This is a multi-layered tale, which plenty of observations on human behaviour and family relationships, all with a sinister undertone. If you’re a reader who enjoys the darker story, this is a book for you.
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A very interesting physiological thriller with lots of twist and turns. I very much enjoyed the authors writing style. I will look forward from reading more books from him!
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This book was good but not great! There was some great plot twists but wasn’t enough to keep me wondering. I truly believe this book could’ve been taken a bit further.
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A slow burn of a novel that took a while to draw me in. I really liked the friendship between Jaya and Blanche. Also it was interesting to learn about the cult. The majority of the book was spent getting to know Blanche, Jaya, Chrissy, Chuck and other supporting players in the story. I liked learning about the character's backgrounds but wish the events in the second half of the book had taken place sooner. There were a few surprises which was nice. I look forward to reading more titles by Nathan Ripley.
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2.5 Stars⭐⭐💫
When I came across the blurb for Your Life is Mine I was intrigued by the cult aspect, and so I decided to give this new-to-me author a try.

It took me a while to get into the story, and I can't honestly say I was ever fully invested. The pacing for a good majority of the story was slow, and only really picked up in the last quarter.

As the story unfolded there were a couple predictable twists, and the conclusion was underwhelming. After all the (slow) build up, the wrap up was too quick.

In the end, this thriller wasn't an exciting, memorable read for me. 

**Complimentary copy for review provided by Simon and Schuster Canada and Netgalley. All opinions expressed here are honest and entirely my own.**
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Your Life Is Mine by Nathan Ripley is a psychological thriller.
First, let me thank NetGalley, the publishers Simon & Schuster,  and of course the author, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
My Synopsis:   (No major reveals, but if concerned, skip to My Opinions)
Blanche Potter has tried to get on with her life. Her career as a filmmaker is taking off. But she can’t out-run the past. Changing her name, moving, having nothing to do with her mother…nothing has worked. She will always be the daughter of the serial killer/cult leader Chuck Varner. Even though he died when she was a child, he lives on in people’s minds.
When her mother dies, Blanche feels nothing but relief. The woman who had raised her until she was 16 was as much of a monster as her father had been. In the years since Blanche left home, her mother has been carrying on Chuck’s name, and enlisting followers. She recruited weak-minded people and filled their heads with the same propaganda her husband had spouted. She was grooming another mass murderer….
My Opinions: 
I struggled with this book. I found it to be very slow, with little excitement until the end….and then still not enough.
The premise was good, and the characters were deep enough. I just didn’t really like any of them.
There’s not really anything major wrong with this book, but somewhere it just missed the mark for me.
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If you love psychological thrillers or are new to the whole concept of a psychological thriller than you are in for a treat.  
Blanche was 7 when her father walked into a mall and started a shooting.  He was a notorious cult leader who had amassed a dedicated following.  After he turned the gun on himself on that horrific day, Blanche made a point to leave her mother and the rest of her past behind her.
Many years later, Blanche is now an up and coming filmmaker and has done an excellent job of hiding her past, that is until a journalist finds her and threatens to expose her.
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YOUR LIFE IS MINE is a great suspense novel. Nathan Ripley does a great job a character and plot development. Worth the read for sure.
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I was so excited going into this book, the premise is so different than any other mystery/thriller I have read but unfortunately, this book did not do it for me. 

I'm going to start off with some positives: 
- As I said, the premise of this book was so interesting! I loved the idea of a cult being the main focus of a thriller book and I haven't read any other books that focus on cults previously. 
- I think there was a lot of realism of how the cult and violent acts throughout operated. I liked reading about how Chuck Varner recruited people and the philosophies he had. 
- I love books with strong female friendships, which this one had! Even though it was an extremely complicated relationship throughout the novel, I loved that the main character and her female friend were there for each other even when things got difficult. 

And here are the negatives:
- First and foremost, I think that the dialogue throughout the whole book was awkward and forced. A lot of the time the dialogue even felt completely unnecessary to what was going on. Also, a lot of the dialogue really took me out of the story as it didn't feel real. I found myself saying a lot of the time, "nobody would actually talk like this in this situation right?!" 
- I think this book brought up a lot of really serious and intense topics such as cult followings, mass shootings, and emotional child abuse. However, by the end of the story, it felt like there was no discussion on the seriousness of these acts and how it affected the characters involved. I was hoping for some resolution but didn't receive it. 
- Additionally, I feel like there was so conversation from the main character about growing up in this cult environment and how it really affected her. Everything that she talked about felt very one-dimensional and surface level which was unfortunate as I feel like there could be a lot to say from that perspective. 
- There was many twists and turns throughout this book, and while I can't say I predicted any of them, they also weren't exciting or shocking when they did happen. Everything that happened did feel very predictable and unoriginal and I was hoping for something new and exciting to happen especially since the premise of the story was so interesting to me. 
- I also didn't like how this book ended. I really wanted some discussion about the events that happened but instead, we had the climax and then 1-2 chapters of the aftermath which felt very rushed. 

Overall, I didn't love this book even though I really wanted too.
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I gave Ripley's début novel, Find You In the Dark, 3 stars. It was pretty good, but the pace was sluggish and I found the characters a little stale. Neither is the case for his second novel, Your Life Is Mine. I LOVED this book so much, and Ripley has solidified his spot on my auto-read list.  

I love Ripley's writing style, in particular the way Blanche's childhood trauma is told in flashbacks throughout the story.

• The morally gray characters are complicated, baffling, riveting and realistic. No person is simply good or evil, we all make our choices in that moment, for that situation.

 LGBT rep? I'm not 100% sure, but did anyone else get the feeling that Jaya and Blanche have had, or could have a romantic relationship?

Your Life Is Mine drives home the value of information, and how that knowledge can be used to dig up the truth. This is a story about a young girl who overcame the odds to become a successful woman, but who isn't done growing until she can deal with her guilt and trauma.

When I learned what this book was about I was incredibly worried that it would glorify mass murderers, but I'm glad to report it does not do that. Instead, this story shows the impact that a shooting spree has, not just on the victims and their families, but also the lasting negative impact on the family of the shooter.

   › Final Thoughts
• Your Life Is Mine is an engaging, intense, creepy novel that is one of the best thrillers I've ever read.
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This was definately a slow burn for me i found it a little predictable and had a hard time connecting with the characters however the presimse of the story was an interesting.

Blanche is the daughter of Chuck Varner the shooter of the Harlow Mall Mass shooting. Blanche had done everything to put Chuck and the shooting in her past. Until she finds out about the death of her mother, Crissy. Blanche knows this wasn't an accidental robbery shooting that it has something to do with her Father. Blanche then goes on to discover skiing with the police what actually happened to her mother. 

I would like to thank Simon & Schuster Canada, Simon & Schuster and Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

You can also find my review on Instagram as of Tuesday may 28th
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Nathan Ripley just keeps getting better.  I loved his best selling first novel, so I knew I was in a treat when I received a review copy of this second one.  I was NOT disappointed.
Ripley has a talent for making really creepy people seem almost normal.  In this one, the daughter of a shopping mall mass shooter who thought she'd left his weird cult following behind when she changed her name and walked away from her mother at 16, suddenly finds herself pulled back into his madness as she investigates the murder of her mother years later.
Through Blanche, her best friend, the local police, a reporter and a cast of supporting characters, Ripley relentlessly pokes at the madness and motivations of the now dead Chuck Varney and his wife Chrissy while spinning out a murder story that will keep you riveted to the page, while making you cringe every time you walk into a busy mall or down a crowed street.
A great story, destined to be another best seller.
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