My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Almost impossible to put down. From the very first page I was completely hooked and the gradual build in tension throughout meant that I was reaching for this book at every possible opportunity. It’s not without flaws but there is something about the narrator that is instantly likeable and the premise is so unique that these are very easy to overlook.
Definitely one I’d recommend for all psychological thriller fans.
It’s the perfect wedding gift.
Newlyweds Jake and Alice are offered membership of a club which promises members will never divorce.
Signing The Pact seems the ideal start to their marriage.
Until one of them breaks the rules.
Because The Pact is for life.
And its members will go to any lengths to ensure nobody leaves . . .
Honestly, having read this book and the rules you apparently have to follow to have a happy and successful marriage I have to say I’m happy to be single. In all seriousness though, this is a book with a very unique and thought provoking premise. Just what does it take to make a marriage work and what would you be willing to sacrifice to ensure it lasts?
The whole story is told from Jake’s point of view and I found him to be an instantly likable and seemingly honest narrator. He’s a psychologist, who comes across as very empathetic (he really cares about his patients), self deprecating and completely devoted to his new wife Alice. As he tells the story of their relationship, his proposal and their wedding it seems very clear that he worries he’s not good enough for her and that she’s not as committed to the relationship as he is.
This is perhaps why, when they are offered membership of an exclusive club known as The Pact which guarantees a successful marriage, he jumps at the opportunity. He’ll do whatever it takes to hang on to Alice.
Alice is a bit more of a mystery. We only see her through her husband’s eyes so it’s difficult to tell exactly what’s going on in her head. It’s frustrating as hell but it does work incredibly well (although I would have loved just one chapter from her pov). She was once a singer in a well known rock band but is now a successful lawyer. She’s ambitious, single minded and determined to be the best at whatever she does. She’s more interested in joining The Pact because of the exclusivity and to prove that marriage is something else she can succeed at (in case you can’t tell, I didn’t find her the most likeable of characters).
Neither Jake nor Alice realize what they’ve let themselves in for when they sign on the dotted line and they’re provided with a huge manual of rules to follow. A lot of the rules seem sensible and are mostly around prioritizing your spouse (buying them meaningful gifts, going on trips) but some are a little more extreme and failure to follow them has some very serious consequences, something it takes Jake and Alice a bit of time to discover.
I loved the mystery around the Pact that the author managed to create. It’s a secret almost cult like organisation with some very important and influential members. We, the reader only discover all of the rules, the punishments (or re education as it’s often referred to) and extent of the organisation as Jake and Alice do and this creates a real tension in the novel. You’re never quite sure how far the Pact will go, who’s a member or what their true motivations are. It all starts fairly mildly but builds and builds until I actually found myself becoming a little paranoid and freaked out.
I also loved the way the author used Jake’s move into marriage counselling to compare their relationship with those of other couples and scatter in facts and statistics about what factors increase (or decrease) the probability that a marriage will succeed. A lot of these were quite surprising to me and absolutely fascinating (I highlighted a lot). It definitely makes you think and I couldn’t help but wonder, alongside Jake, whether his marriage was headed for the rocks. I have to admit I wasn’t convinced they were a well matched couple, but then you only hear from Jake’s point of view and he’s not exactly objective.
It’s not a perfect story and there were a few bits that niggled at me, the fact that they signed up to the Pact without reading the rules first, the jumps in time in the beginning, but these are fairly minor and very easy to overlook.
This was a book that took me completely by surprise. I thought I was becoming a little bit fed up with psychological thrillers but this kept me completely engaged throughout, on one sleepless night I found myself reaching for it at 3am (not something I recommend if you want to get back to sleep). It was just completely addictive and genuinely thrilling.
Definitely one I recommend.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC.