Cover Image: If I Disappear

If I Disappear

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The main character in "If I Disappear" is a woman named Sera who becomes obsessed with the podcast of a woman named Rachel who lives on an isolated ranch with her parents. Rachel's podcast dives deep into the disappearances of dozens of women and Sera is fascinated by the concept of disappearing (hence the title). When Rachel's podcast suddenly goes dark, Sera knows that she is being called to come rescue this woman whom she feels a strong kinship with.

Sera arrives in the small town known as Happy Camp, and everything from there on is pretty weird. No one in town believes that Rachel is anything more than a woman who got fed up and left, except for her parents who believe that she was murdered but aren't doing anything to seek justice for her. This is the scenario that Sera was most concerned about: Rachel was missing or dead and no one was looking for her. Sera begins her own investigation, using the techniques that Rachel taught in her podcast and searching for the clues that Sera is certain Rachel would have left.

The story is told in a second person narration, with Sera talking primarily to Rachel in her mind. The characters are all pretty loopy and isolation is a big theme throughout the book. Sera experiences a lot of gaslighting from many different people and for a variety of different motivations. I think one of my primary issues with this book is that I was never able to believe Sera would behave the way that she did. Her actions seem more like what an 18-20 year old would do, but we are told that Sera is in her 30's. Rachel also reads like a much younger character than she is supposed to be.

"If I Disappear" is a unique book that is a little hard to classify. Goodreads has it listed as mystery, thriller, and suspense. It does have a mystery element, but I would argue it is better classified as a suspense novel than a thriller. I felt that there were a few horror elements as well. It doesn't quite have the right pacing to be considered a thriller. It has a great cover and a good concept, but ultimately just wasn't my cup of tea.
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The premise of this seemed like it would be interesting. I love stories that weave in a podcast format, and there was the possibility of an unreliable narrator. Unfortunately, there were a few plot holes I couldn't overlook. There was an attempt at a theme at the end that just felt out of place and just didn't work for me. I might just not be the right reader for this. I will say that it had great writing, and kept a good pace.

Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with a digital copy
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Thank you to NetGalley and Berkeley Publishing for an opportunity to read If I Disappear.

   “We’re so happy you’re here “

When her favourite true crime podcast host disappears, Sera decides to go 
investigating...

What I liked about this book :
✔️ the last 20-25% of the book. To be honest, I really wasn’t enjoying this book much until then, and all of a sudden it got really interesting - and that ending !

What I didn’t like about this book:
✖️ the first person “ let me tell you everything that happened “ narrative just doesn’t work well for me in any genre/ book, and it really didn’t work well for me either. I do think it’s a total style/ preference thing, because the book is quite well written.
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***Review posted on my blog meglovesreading.wordpress.com on 1/24/21***

3.5 stars rounded up to 4.

Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for sending me an eARC of this book for free in exchange for an honest review!

In theory, If I Disappear has everything I want in a book: murder, plot twists, and themes of podcasting. That being said, I had a lot of hope for this book, and while it wasn't necessarily bad, I don't think it was memorable either.

First of all, I think Sera is a bit too obsessed with Rachel and her podcast. Don't get me wrong, I love podcasts, but Sera's love for Murder, She Spoke was her only personality trait (much like those people who seem to only watch The Office). I guess the whole point of her character was that she didn't really have a life, but I just kind of felt bad for her.

The first 40% of the book was a bit slow, but once you get past that. the pace starts to quicken. I read the second half in one sitting because the mystery became more enthralling. I liked that you didn't really know who to trust. From the beginning, it was obvious that you couldn't trust Addy, but some of the other characters were hard to read and Sera herself even admits she doesn't know who to trust.

The ending before the epilogue was reasonable. It made sense to me. I wasn't thrilled with it per say, but it wasn't a bad ending. Then you get to the epilogue and the killer is revealed to be someone else! It's obvious the author was trying to go for shock value rather than a solid ending because it kind of comes out of nowhere. At first, I absolutely hated this ending, but as Sera begins to think about it in her head there is one clue she realizes meant something else and I had actually guessed the correct meaning when this clue first appeared so that made the ending more believable for me. I'm still trying to decide if I actually liked it or not, but it's definitely something that I'm going to think about for a few days and then move on! 

If you're not sure whether or not you'd like this book, I'd say read it. You'd definitely be in for a surprise.
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When Sera’s favorite true crime podcast host goes missing, she believes it’s up to her to solve the mystery of Rachel’s disappearance. But Sera’s life - and indeed Sera herself - is unstable and diving headlong into this investigation proves to be more difficult than she expected. Is everyone in Rachel’s isolated Northern California hometown really a suspect or has her steady diet of true crime made her see suspicious behavior where there is none?

The concept of this novel is interesting, but the execution fell short for me. I’m a fan of stories with unreliable narrators, but Sera proved to be too unreliable. While captivating to start, things eventually felt repetitive and vague. Recommended for suspense or thriller fans who are looking for something different. Veteran readers of the genre may guess some of the plot twists.
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I love this trend of incorporating podcasts into books! This is super creepy, twisted, and you have to be patient because the narration is so different and nonlinear. Ultimately, I think people who like unreliable narrators and thrillers will find this enjoyable!
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Can I just start with this cover is EVERYTHING. I adore it. Then the synopsis: true crime podcast element (CHECK), mysterious disappearance, a potentially unhealthily invested MC, and then a creepy ranch in the middle of nowhere? This is everything my little thriller-loving heart could ask for. 

If I Disappeared grabbed me from the start and I read it over two days because I HAD TO KNOW what was up! I am not typically a can of first-person narratives but I think Brazier did such a good job and I really loved her writing style that it worked well for me. Sera was also just a really compelling, flawed, interesting main character. 

I'd say the first 80% of the book earned a 4.5 stars from me, but the ending (which I do consider a make it or break it with thrillers) was.... confusing? rushed? abrupt? fast-paced? I'm not terribly sure what happened and I didn't feel like it was explained or foreshadowed enough to work for me.
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Okay, I cannot go on any further without mentioning, HOW AWESOME IS THIS COVER?! Literally, so stunning! Now to the book...here is your fair warning (just like Rachel gave *wink wink*). It's a tad WEIRD. Like mind-twisting, what the heck are they thinking/doing, what did I read type of weird. Not too much so that you wouldn't enjoy reading it, but just be prepared for a mind-bending experience. The story is told in the second person which is different than most which leave elements of suspense, but it also left me with plot holes and confusion. The concept is so unique and it truly has suspense all throughout, so I really did enjoy the read but may not find myself picking it up ever again.
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If I Disappear was a creeping and dreamy thriller for the podcasting age. Elegantly written, but fast paced and twisty enough to keep you guessing. If I Disappear get's into the action on the first page and does not let you breath until the very last. 

When Sera's favorite true crime podcast host appears to go missing, she believes it a call to action. It is up to Sera to find Rachel--through her podcast Rachel has already given Sera the tools to investigate and shown her how to solve this mystery. But there might be more to Rachel's life and her disappearance that Sera was able to glean from her podcast... 

Sera follows clues in the podcast's episodes back to Rachel's own hometown and family ranch. There she takes up work and residence as a horse handler. But as the mystery unfolds, Rachel slows becomes more intrenched in Rachel's real life, and she's is no longer sure in which direction the danger really lies.
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A must-read for fans of unusual narrative styles, Eliza Jane Brazier’s If I Disappear is a unique story, featuring unique characters, and told in a truly unique way. It’s the type of book that surprisingly reappears in your subconscious long after you have finished it.

Sera is an avid listener of true crime podcasts, but when Rachel, the host of her favourite podcast suddenly goes missing, Sera believes that she alone has the instincts and ability to find Rachel. As the story builds, it starts to seem like Sera not only believes she can find Rachel, but that she needs to find Rachel – perhaps more for herself than even for Rachel.

Based on what Sera believes are “clues” Rachel has given throughout her podcast episodes, Sera goes to Rachel’s hometown and even starts working at Rachel’s family’s remote, isolated horse ranch. Though she starts out believing she is in control of her investigation, Sera soon comes to realise she is in a strange, unfamiliar world. She realises there are many details that Rachel never mentioned and there is clearly much more to the story than Sera ever anticipated.

Brazier has Sera tell this story in a mostly stream-of-consciousness format, and entirely in second person as if she is telling the story to Rachel and keeping her apprised of the investigation status. It is a bit disconcerting at first, as we read so few books written in second person, but soon Sera’s constant use of “you” starts to give the reader the feeling of being personally involved in the events of the story. It gets easy to forget she is talking to Rachel and think, “she is talking to me!” This type of intimacy with the main character would never have been as effective any other way.

We also see Sera’s almost encyclopaedic knowledge of Rachels’ podcast as she frequently refers back to specific episodes in order to draw conclusions about current events that are happening. Some readers may find this a bit distracting as obviously we have never heard any of these episodes of this non-existent podcast.

There are also characters that ultimately are important to the story, but personally I never felt like we were given enough information to understand who they really were, or what their motivations were.

The book’s ending will likely be much debated. Without getting into any spoilers, I will say that it is the ending that I have found myself thinking back on frequently since finishing the book. That is the part that I find myself wanting to dissect and reexamine all over again, and I think it’s always a positive when a book just will not quite let go.
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I loved this book.  The narrator gave me strong vibes similar to 'The Girls' or 'Eileen' in which there was something off and odd about her.  I have to say I ended up liking Sera much more than I did the narrators of those other 2 books.  The book tapped into a vice that so many of us have these days, listening to podcasts.  And when you listen to a podcast regularly you start to really feel like the hosts are your friends.  But what happens when you leave your life (even if there doesn't seem to be much to it) and try and help someone you've never met?  I will definitely be recommending this book.
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Overall, I feel like this would be a better experience for someone who is a bigger fan of the "unreliable narrator" trope. That being said, I do think the podcast elements were enjoyable and I would potentially reread this on audio to see how those are incorporated.
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This review was originally posted on  Books of My Heart
 

Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I am really enjoying this genre but If I Disappear was not what I expected at all. Unexpected can be good but this was crazy town.  Sera is an interesting character and stronger than I would be in figuring out the situation.  She has far less support in her life and not too many options available.

Sera becomes attached to Rachel who is a podcast host.  The podcast shares information about women who go missing.  When Rachel goes missing, Sera sets out to find her.  She goes to the town where she lived, takes a job with her parents, and goes to her brother's church.  Everything is completely bizarre.  I did worry about Sera's life being in danger.

I can't see that Sera makes any progress but she is a catalyst for a bunch more weird because she is asking questions.  Many people are clearly not telling the truth.  In the end, I'm not sure if good or evil prevailed. It's ambiguous which is not my favorite.

This world and characters are well developed.  It was easy to read and stay engaged with wanting to know what happened to Rachel and others.  None of the characters was very likeable, though.  Perhaps you are smarter than me and will understand the ending.
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I listen to a lot of true crime podcasts, and I was excited to read the book If I Disappear due to its story involving a true-crime podcaster.  Obsessive fan Sera Fleece becomes concerned when the host of the podcast Murder, She Spoke suddenly stops putting out her very regular episodes.  As the majority of episodes of the podcast had dealt with missing women, Sera immediately becomes convinced that Rachel, the podcaster, has been murdered (or somehow the victim of foul play).  Using clues from the various episodes, Sera decides to travel to Rachel's home and see if she can get to the bottom of the disappearance.
Sera is a very hard character to like or even sympathize with.  She mentions over and over how she was "born to disappear" and has just never felt at home in the world.  She married her ex-husband because he seemed like some she could tolerate and describes feeling detached at her wedding. She couldn't hold a job and wasn't close to her parents.  Now in her 30s, she has been sitting at home doing nothing for the past year other than listening to Rachel's podcast over and over.  

Rachel began her podcast with a story that was local to her:  the disappearance of a girl from her high school when she was also a student there.  Rachel has talked about her life a great deal on the podcast:  that her parents run Fountain Creek Guest Ranch in Happy Camp, California; that she doesn't get along with her parents; that she lives in a yellow house on the property.  

Sera shows up in town asking for directions to the ranch and is met with stares and hostility from the local townspeople.  When she finally finds it, the ranch appears to be mostly run-down and overgrown with blackberry brambles.  Rachel's mother, Addy, quickly agrees to give Sera a job at the ranch cleaning and helping with the horses.  The other people who live at the ranch are Rachel's father Emmett and a hired man named Jed.

Soon, Sera begins, not very subtly to ask about Rachel and her disappearance.  Maddeningly for her, no one seems concerned or upset that Rachel is gone.  Many people tell her Rachel was strange, didn't get along with anyone, and had a habit of disappearing for long periods of time only to return with outlandish tales of what had happened to her. Only her mother Addy has a different story: that Rachel has been murdered by "gangs" from town.  Even if her mother believes that, Sera finds it odd that no police investigation has been done.

The story meanders along with Sera confronting everyone at the ranch and in town with her suspicious about Rachel's disappearance.  She keeps trying to find a bond between her "disappearance" from her own life and Rachel's absence.  The book was a little confusing because while real-life true-crime cases were mentioned, there were also many fictional ones that made up some of the cases Rachel covered on her show.  The only thing I can say I really enjoyed about the book was the fact that several times I thought I had elements of the story figured out, but none of what I was expecting happened. Still, the ending felt somewhat rushed and illogical, so I wasn't entirely left feeling as if the story delivered on a satisfying resolution.
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This was a really creepy and fast-paced book.  I tore through it in 24 hours, because I couldn't wait to get to the end in the hopes of getting some answers about what was going on at the creepy, desolate ranch where the bulk of the story was located.

Sera is at a place in her life where she feels down, depressed and alone.  The one person she really feels a connection to is Rachel, a true-crime podcast host (whom Sera has never met) that investigates the disappearances of women.  When Rachel herself appears to go missing, Sera decides to go in search of answers.

I found the setting and characters in this one to definitely be eerie.  It wasn't the kind of thriller that would make me scared to be alone in the house or to go to sleep, but it was definitely creepy enough to keep my interest to the point that I stayed up way too late reading it.

As someone who has had a lifelong interest in true-crime (and has spent the past several years listening to true-crime podcasts), I found the plot and format of this book to be really appealing.  I liked that each chapter started with a snippet from a podcast episode, and that the chapters were short and quick to read.  The story definitely kept me guessing, and while I had of course formed my own potential theories, I was never confident in them and they continually changed over the course of the book.  I enjoy thrillers in which I do not guess the ending, and this one did not disappoint.

The only thing I will say is that the pacing could be improved.  There were some sections of the book that felt a bit drawn out and overly detailed, and then the last section of the book felt like so much was crammed into a small part of the book.  It didn't take away from the book, but was just something that I noticed.  I suppose that can be true of a lot of thrillers, as the author doesn't want to give anything away too early - I just felt like maybe the last section was a bit rushed, after so much build up.

If you like thrillers and you are a fan of true-crime, I think you will find this an enjoyable read.
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Beautifully written, expertly plotted. The concept is timely and wonderfully executed. True-crime podcast listeners will LOVE this book. Anyone who enjoys a good mystery and evocative, atmospheric writing will also love this book.
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Thank you to the publisher, the author, and Netgalley for the advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review.

Murder podcast meets mystery thriller in this debut novel by Eliza Brazier. While dealing with the hardships of a divorce and no job, Sera finds herself spending days listening to her favorite murder podcast, Murder She Spoke. When the host of the show, Rachel, abruptly stops posting to the podcast and social media, Sera decides to take things into her own hands. After all, Sera has obsessed over the podcast and knows Rachel better than anyone, so when she believes she’s found clues in the episodes she sets off to Fountain Creek Ranch, the home of Rachel and her family. As Sera begins to uncover clues and talk to the locals, she realizes there’s more to the disappearance than she thought. Rachel isn’t the first or last person to disappear in this small town.

I have to start this review with what caught my attention initially. I absolutely loved the cover. I think the design is super intriguing and I think it works well for this mystery/thriller.

The concept of this novel was really interesting. I haven’t read a book that includes a podcast and I loved how it was worked in. At the start of each chapter, there is an outtake from Murder She Spoke where we can (possibly) find clues as well as get a better understanding of what Sera was referring to. Sera also references certain excerpts from the podcast that relates to a specific part of the book which was a great addition.

The writing style for this book tripped me up a little bit and actually took a bit to get used to. . and now that I’m finished I’m not sure I ever did get used to it. The story is written in first person; however, Sera is not talking to us, the reader, she is speaking to Rachel. Although, I think this choice was best for the book and I can’t see it being written another way.

This book did start out kind of slow and I don’t believe anything started to pick up much till around the 40% mark. But because Sera is constantly changing her mind on what happened and “who done it,” the reader’s mind is also kept guessing. Now I seem to have this unrecognized talent of guessing the killer or twist and this book was no different. While I didn’t guess every twist that happened, I was somewhat close.

Our main character in general keeps the reader on their toes. From the beginning, I was questioning Sera as a narrator. Her over-the-top obsession with Rachel was sort of concerning and the fact that the story is told from first person to Rachel made it creepier. I really found it difficult to feel for her, which may have been the intention but in actuality it made me want to send her to get professional help.

Okay, the ending. . honestly I was a bit unsatisfied. I felt there were still loose ends that needed to be cleared up. For example, (non-spoilery as we already know Sera is divorced) what happened with her ex-husband? He’s brought up several times and there’s a bit left unspoken between the two that was just never cleared up as well as some instances with Rachel’s parents and other characters in the story. When scenes towards the end started to unfold, I was hoping for a bit more explanation and clarification as I was a bit confused at certain points. I was just a bit let down in that aspect.

I would recommend this book to those who like true crime mixed with fiction. For those who like a slower mystery and calmer thriller.

I’m really glad I got the opportunity to read this book, I think it’s a nice start as a debut novel and I’ll definitely be checking out this author’s future work as I think she has good prospects.

***Review will be posted to my blog on release day***
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My Review:⭐️⭐⭐.5/ 5 stars 

This cover is so captivating and attractive - I wanted to read this brand new thriller by Eliza Brazier just by looking at it. It follows the story of Sera Fleece who is obsessed with Rachel’s true crime podcast and listens to it religiously until one day when Rachel herself disappears. Believing that Rachel herself is a victim this time, Sera flees to the rural, desolate backwoods of Northern California to infiltrate, investigate, and find Rachel by pretending to work for Rachel’s family farm. The entire story, Sera, seems to be talking to Rachel herself in her mind - and there are clues from the podcast excerpts to lead to the serial killer on the loose and what secrets the family and people in town  are hiding.  

I was thrilled to the end, almost believing I figured it half way through and was completely wrong. I was constantly trying to figure out the next step, but found the narrator Sera to be annoying. Don’t get me wrong, she’s supposed to be unhinged and obsessive - but I almost found it hard to read her cult-like behavior risking her life for someone she’s never met. That all contributed to the insanity of the entire town and family - you just never knew who you could trust. If you were anything like me reading this, you’d be screaming inside for Sera to just leave, abandon the case, and go home. You are guessing the whole way through right up to the end - and even now I don’t really know who to believe in this story. I liked it and highly suggest it to anyone who is a true crime junkie.  

Thank you to Berkeley Publications and Netgalley for my advanced copy in exchange for my honest review!

US Pub date: January 26,2021
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3.5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for an advanced readers copy in exchange for my honest review.

Sera loves podcasts. You could also say she has an unhealthy obsession with one in particular, Murder She Spoke, and it's host, Rachel. When Rachel goes dark, Sera assumes that she is missing and is going to find her, based on listening to her podcasts and the clues she has supplied. Sera feels that she knows Rachel enough to find out what happened to her, so she drives to her home town and family ranch...where everything is just creepy and not right.

This book started out strong for me. I was all in for the creepy vibes and extremely weird characters of Rachel's parents and ranch hand, Jed. Part of the narrative is that Sera is talking to "you" Rachel and that even worked for me. What didn't work for me...the ending. It just got too crazy. I was confused as to what actually happened to Rachel and who did what to whom and why. The epilogue (three months later...kind of an epilogue?) just threw everything we thought we knew off and I didn't think it was necessary. It was like a twist thrown in there just for a twists sake. The ending was also open ended, so you, as a reader, are left to decide what you think happened. If you are in the mood for a crazy, creepy read with a possible unreliable narrator, then check this one out.
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{3.5 stars}

If you love a twisty story full of panic and lots of likely suspects then this is a must read. Written in mostly as a first person sort of diary / letter stream of consciousness to the person that is missing, this one is a quick read. There is a ton of anxiety and panic as Sera immerses herself into the life of her favorite true crime podcaster who has disappeared. Her own life is a mess so she decides to focus on helping find the one person who gave her solace and stability.

As she meets the people on the isolated ranch in a small town, literally everyone is a suspect. She goes absolutely bananas pinning everything on everyone. This gets confusing at times but definitely heightens your senses. There are times where she completely spins out and many times where she makes entirely stressful and unwise decisions but you're with her for the whole ride.

The ending is an actual ending which I appreciate in a world of thrillers that never seem to wrap up. The truth was equally plausible and far-fetched enough to keep your head spinning. Lots of red herrings along the way to keep you thinking.
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