Lana Grainger has worked hard to put her traumatic past behind her. So hard, in fact, that sometimes it’s hard for her to remember the truth behind all the lies, all the fiction she’s created. She begins babysitting a local boy who has behavioral issues who, chillingly, sees her as just another person he can manipulate and control. When Lana’s roommate goes missing, and it becomes clear that Lana was the last one to see her, she can’t bear to tell the truth to anyone, even to save herself. But it soon becomes clear that someone else knows the secrets of Lana’s past, and she may no longer be in control of the one thing she’s compulsively hidden away.
A searing thrill ride from beginning to end, In the Blood is a meticulously crafted psychological thriller. Unger probes deeper questions of identity and genetics as she establishes a unique, unexpected voice in Lana.
I’ve read quite a few psychological thrillers; they’ve become one of my favorite genres, so I’ve started to seek them out. And while they’re usually satisfying, rarely does one of these novels absolutely floor me anymore. I’ve just read too many. That’s why Lisa Unger’s In the Blood came as such a surprise. I’ve always been a fan of Lisa’s, but this novel was, quite simply, incredible.
Lana is a fascinating main character in In the Blood. From the beginning, it’s clear she’s not telling the whole story. There are parts of herself she’s keeping hidden; it makes the reader question her as a bit of an unreliable narrator, but at the same time, she’s very sympathetic. Lana has one of the most unique and freshest voices I’ve read recently, in this genre or any other. I loved her different perspective, especially as events unfolded and became more complex. Without giving anything away, let me just say that seeing things through Lana’s eyes is both disturbing and enlightening.
Unger doesn’t leave In the Blood on the surface, though it would have been easy to write just a thriller. No, the author makes sure she’s asking the difficult questions in this novel. She probes the nature of identity; can we fool ourselves into thinking we’re someone we’re not? Is identity a construct, or is it something innate? Furthermore, she also questions the role genetics plays in identity. How much is up to us, and how much is dependent on our genes? Not only is this book a pulse-pounding thriller, it’s smart.
I don’t think I even need to say anything about the plot, but in case my gushing hasn’t made it clear: this is a twisty, crazy thrill ride from beginning to end. Unger gets in your head, making sure In the Blood leaves you unnerved and looking over your shoulder. Just when you think you have things figured out, another from-left-field (yet completely believable) twist is thrown into the mix. Unger’s intricate plotting shows what a master of this genre she is; once you pick this novel up, you shouldn’t be planning on putting it down until you’ve breathlessly raced through the entire thing.
Other books by Lisa Unger: