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When No One Is Watching

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The gentrification of a Brooklyn neighborhood takes on a sinister new meaning…

Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo.

But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised.

When does coincidence become conspiracy? Where do people go when gentrification pushes them out? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other—or themselves—long enough to find out before they too disappear?

368 pages, ebook

First published September 1, 2020

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About the author

Alyssa Cole

44 books5,226 followers
Alyssa Cole is an award-winning author of historical, contemporary, and sci-fi romance. Her Civil War-set espionage romance An Extraordinary Union was the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award’s Best Book of 2017 and the American Library Association’s RUSA Best Romance for 2018, and A Princess in Theory was one of the New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2018. She’s contributed to publications including Bustle, Shondaland, The Toast, Vulture, RT Book Reviews, and Heroes and Heartbreakers, and her books have received critical acclaim from The New York Times, Library Journal, BuzzFeed, Kirkus, Booklist, Jezebel, Vulture, Book Riot, Entertainment Weekly, and various other outlets. When she’s not working, she can usually be found watching anime or wrangling her pets.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 11,297 reviews
Profile Image for Kat.
265 reviews79.5k followers
April 6, 2021
The concept behind this book is great. Gentrification is insidious and Alyssa Cole's idea to tie the injustice that accompanies it to a thriller plot was some big brain shit.

Let's start with praise: all of the (good) characters are easy to care about, and I was automatically rooting for Sydney from the very first page. I also think that the Rear Window and Get Out comparisons are accurate, and the elements that make those stories so gripping are apparent in this book as well. There are definitely moments when the intended effect of this story comes to fruition.

However, the overall execution was a bit off, specifically concerning the jumpy pacing and everything that went down in the final 1/4 of the story. Personally, I preferred the slow build of unease and psychological tension that was present in the beginning, and if Cole had stuck with it rather than go full on action movie by the end I think I would have liked it better. While that's my main critique, I realize it's probably a result of When No One is Watching being the author's first rodeo in the thriller genre, and is something that will improve over time.

I also wish that the romance.....hadn't existed?? Theo was a fine character, although I wasn't nearly as invested in him as Sydney, but I honestly didn't feel that their relationship needed to be anything other than a friendship. I'm generally not interested when a romance is intro'd in a horror/thriller book, because that's not what I came for. I'm sure many people won't mind the Theo/Sydney subplot, but to me it just felt like the book was strong enough without the added distraction.

Anyway, there's no doubt about it, Alyssa Cole can write a readable book. I was hooked from the start and if she ever decides to write within this genre again, I'm all for it.
Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews112k followers
December 15, 2020
3.5 stars. I LOVED the premise of this story and was so ready to rate it 4 or even 5 stars in the first 1/3 of the book. I love it when thrillers incorporate real world issues and social injustice, and I thought Cole’s approach to this genre was especially unique because it’s set up like a contemporary rom-com with very likable leading characters that you want to root for. I think the juxtaposition of having a setting that feels like a rom-com but is actually a thriller is a super interesting dynamic because it simultaneously makes me love these characters while fearing for what’s going to happen to them because I’m already attached. The main issue that I had throughout the book is that even though I love the concept of gentrification and redlining as a thriller, the bad guys felt so cartoonish and overtly evil. Yes, there ARE assholes that exist in real life who aren’t subtle about it, but I think the book would have fared better if the racism and corruption were more subtle and insidious. The message feels very in-your-face, when it didn’t need to be, and I would have been more impressed if the story were more nuanced. I also got the sense that perhaps the author struggled writing the last 1/3 of the book when the thriller aspect kicks in. The ending feels very rushed and fast-paced, which is especially jarring in comparison to the slow buildup. It doesn’t have an exciting climax as I would like either, because the author might have trapped herself by setting up a plot/conflict that is so much bigger than the characters are capable of handling. Still, if this book got picked up for a TV or movie adaptation, I would totally watch.
Profile Image for Roxane.
Author 118 books157k followers
May 18, 2020
Hmmm. I understand what the author was going for here, a gentrification based take on "Get Out," but the pacing is off. The ending happens all at once and is so wild and then it's the end. This had a lot of potential. Great premise. Lots of interesting Brooklyn/NY history. Missteps in execution.
Profile Image for Meredith (Slowly Catching Up).
793 reviews12.4k followers
September 14, 2020

When No One is Watching is a powerful and uncomfortable book to read. It is also difficult to describe, and although it's being marketed as a thriller, it is only part thriller, and not really a thriller until closer to the end. It is a mixture of genres blended together to craft a powerful message on social justice and gentrification.

Sydney Green, a black woman in her 30’s, is literally fighting to hold onto her mother's house in Gifford Place, a neighborhood going through “revitalization” in Brooklyn. Corporations, condominiums, and soul-crushing Bougie millennials are moving in and driving out the culture and people who built the neighborhood. Pressured to sell, but not willing to move, Sydney puts together a tour of the neighborhood that encompasses its African roots and a past that is on the verge of disappearing.

Theo, a white man with a secretive past, strikes up an unlikely friendship with Sydney and becomes her assistant on the tour. As the two begin researching and planning, their neighbors begin to disappear. They are both in danger and could be the next to be taken.

The narrative is split between Sydney and Theo. Both are dynamic characters. Sydney’s anger at the injustice of what is happening to her neighborhood emanates off the pages. Her anger masks her pain and fear of losing all she has ever known. On the other hand, Theo’s character is a little shady. He hides his emotions, and so many other things, and is a bit of mystery. He plays the role of the white person who wants to support the cause, but at the same time is oblivious to what’s really going on (I can identify with this aspect of his character).

The narrative kept me on my toes, as I wasn’t ever really sure where things were going, but it GOES there in a very blatant and obvious way. There is a level of underlying tension and suspense throughout that gradually builds as the narrative progresses.

I have to say this book goes off the rails in the last 25% or so. I was wondering if what was really happening was all just a crazy dream, but it was all very real. I was a little put off by how far Cole went, but then I realized she had to go in this way to get her message across.

This is a provocative, timely, and engaging read. It’s a page-turner with a message that will, hopefully, keep the reader thinking about history, racism, gentrification, and social justice.

“People bury the parts of history they don’t like, pave it over like African cemeteries beneath Manhattan skyscrapers.”

I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book in a GoodReads giveaway!
Profile Image for Warda.
1,153 reviews18.4k followers
September 21, 2020
“When I think of a Black community, the first thing that comes to mind—even if I don’t want it to—is crime. Drugs. Gangs. Welfare. That’s all the news has talked about since I was a kid. Not old people drinking tea. Not complex self-sustaining financial systems that had to be created because racism means being left out to dry.”

Emotionally, this book is 5 stars for me. As I read on, I found myself having this sense of respect towards Alyssa Cole.

Rationally, it is 4.5 star rating, but what are ratings other than an estimation of sorts. There's no accuracy to this. All I can speak about is how this book made me feel and I felt all of it.

This is not a thriller in the classic sense. Or a story you would picture when thriller is mentioned. Alyssa Cole has put her own unique spin on it and that's what I admired about this story. It's subtle, eerie, it sneaks up on you even though at the back of your mind you are aware that something sinister is lurking, but you cannot pinpoint its source.

This is very much the narrative the story follows. The thriller genre has been used as an educational tool almost. A story doesn't have to be constantly 'thrilling' in its literal sense for it to be chilling. That message can utilised in many different ways.
The micro-aggressions (which makes your blood boil) that were present, the way you see a community being targeted and pushed out adds to how horrifying this particular reality was and still is for Black and marginalised communities.

I was wondering how the author would combine thrilling aspects into a discussion on gentrification but Cole managed it perfectly. She really did her research and provided an alternative thriller story.

The ending, I believe, was intentional. In an interview Alyssa Cole did it was mentioned that it wasn't tied up neatly, but rather set the tone of a community that is still very much fighting the fight. The problems are still very much present and doesn't just disappear because of one or few incidents that have occurred that could’ve potentially paved the way to a better future. History has not worked that way.

I can't wait to read her back-list now and really hope we get more thriller novels from her.
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,169 reviews98.2k followers
August 26, 2020
ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss

Reviews you should check out: Bee's, Jazmen's, Carole's

I have adored everything Alyssa Cole has written, so when I heard about this new mystery thriller I knew it would make my most anticipated releases of the year list! I enjoyed this immensely and I hope people read this and fall in love with this thriller, but I hope they also realize how deeply rooted racism and systems built on racism are still thriving because of racism.

When No One Is Watching switches back and forth between Sydney and Theo's POV. Sydney is Black, recently divorced, and recently moved back to NY to help her mother who is ill. They have a brownstone in Brooklyn and the neighborhood and the neighbors mean a lot to her. Theo is white and recently moved into Sydney's neighborhood and is currently living with his abusive ex-girlfriend while they try to renovate this home Sydney is trying to put together a more extensive compilation of the Black history from her neighborhood so she can do a tour, and Theo volunteers to help her. Meanwhile, more and more Black people in the community are going missing, and more and more white people are moving in acting as if they have always owned the neighborhood.

It is never a Black authors job to educate you, but Alyssa Cole truly and unapologetically talks about the privilege that white and non BIPOCs have. From gentrification and the many systems that are stealing land, and buildings, and lives still in 2020, to police brutality and who they are willing to protect and who they are willing take everything from, to the vast different microaggressions they are forced to endure every single day. This book does not shy away from anything, and I hope it makes a lot of people uncomfortable, and I hope they sit in that uncomfortably and begin to check their privileges.

This book has a lot of scary parts, but the scariest part of all is how this country really is still running on racism and slavery, just a different (more well hidden) kind of racism and slavery. From prison systems, to the police forces, to huge corporations and all their different investments. It's not even well hidden, people just don't want to see, because they don't want to be uncomfortable, and they don't want to change a system that is working in their favor too. But friendly reminder that you can't be compliant with racism and racist systems and not be racist. :]

Overall, I really loved 80% of this book, but the ending was way too rushed for me. I just felt a bit unsatisfied with how a few storylines and character's stories went (and I wanted to know so much more)! But I still think this was such a powerful read, and a shining star in 2020 literature. Alyssa Cole is a gift to this world (and all the genres) and I hope you all pick this one up!

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Trigger and Content Warnings: gentrification, racism, so many microaggressions, talk of slavery, loss of a loved one, a lot of talk of financial debt, (medical) debt harassment, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, talk of cheating in the past (not the main characters), talk of domestic abuse in the past, themes of abuse and cycles of abuse, talk of institutionalization, murder, attempted abduction, brief mention of animal abuse, brief mention of suicide, forced medical experimentation, talk of drug addiction, threats of calling ICE and the police, and police brutality.

Buddy read with Maëlys & Penny! ❤
Profile Image for Melissa ~ Bantering Books.
206 reviews788 followers
February 19, 2021
Be sure to visit Bantering Books to read all my latest reviews.

I have never read a novel quite like Alyssa Cole’s, When No One is Watching.

Primarily marketed as a thriller, it has, for the most part, all the prerequisite tension, psychological suspense, and unexpected twists it needs to fit that bill. But alongside all that lies a fierce examination of institutional racism and gentrification in contemporary society. Not to mention a fascinating history lesson, to boot.

It sounds like a lot to try to pull together, doesn’t it? Most definitely. It takes a skilled, talented writer to effectively combine such diverse elements. Not every author could pull it off. But Cole does – and she does it without even breaking a sweat.

Sydney Green, a young Black woman in Brooklyn, watches in dismay as the neighborhood she grew up in disappears before her very eyes. New FOR SALE signs seem to be dropping out of the sky, as left and right, her beloved neighbors are forced to sell their homes. Some of her dearest friends are even silently vanishing in the middle of the night, never to be seen or heard from again.

To combat her burgeoning sense of loss, Sydney decides to funnel her frustration into the creation of a historical Brooklyn walking tour. She soon receives an offer of research assistance from her new White neighbor across the street, Theo, which she begrudgingly accepts against her better judgment.

Much to Sydney and Theo’s surprise, their straightforward exploration into the history of Brooklyn soon leads them to a frightening discovery they never saw coming. They have no choice but to work together, pushing all fear and distrust of one another aside. Otherwise, they may find themselves to be the next neighbors to disappear without a trace.

Having previously found success writing romance, When No One is Watching is Cole’s first foray into the land of thrillers. And what a successful venture it turns out to be. Overall, the novel is a smart, engrossing, addictive story with just the perfect amount of tension.

And Cole puts some serious writing chops on display. Her prose is excellent. It’s intelligent and direct; clear and concise. Her words flow smoothly and are effortless to read. And she doesn’t waste time by bloating the narrative with needless filler.

As is so popular these days, the novel employs the literary tool of dual narration, with the story unfolding through the eyes of both Sydney and Theo. The strategy works effectively, seeing as Cole has crafted two likable, but slightly unreliable protagonists. Sydney’s emotional and psychological stability is debatable, thanks to an ill mother and a recent divorce. And Theo is surrounded by a dark air of dishonesty, dubious motives, and hidden secrets. They are two remarkably interesting and complex characters, and their questionable behavior abundantly increases the novel’s underlying sense of disquiet.

Be forewarned, though. The majority of When No One is Watching is not very thrilling. It’s more suspenseful, in nature. It isn’t until the last 25% hits that the novel becomes what I would consider to be a true thriller. There is also a romantic element to the story, which I found to be a bit unnecessary.

Still, Cole creates a perfect aura of eeriness, paranoia, and unease, all of which serves to amplify the reader’s need to understand what exactly is happening and why. The pages fly by, and it is difficult to put the novel down.

But then the ending comes.

And in a matter of a few pages, my thoughts flip flop. One minute I’m thinking I have a five-star thriller in my hands. The next, I’m wondering what in the world is happening and if any of it is even supposed to be real. Because the novel completely goes off the rails, verging on the edge of ridiculous. The ending is just too unbelievable. It’s too far-fetched.

I understand that When No One is Watching is supposed to be a thriller and the intention is to be shocking. But for a novel that spends so much of its time being deeply rooted in fact and history, this type of sudden, extreme, and incongruous conclusion simply does not make sense. And I think that in the end, Cole unwittingly undercuts the powerful message she works so hard to send.

Sigh. My opinion may not be a popular one. Of this, I am mindful.

Nonetheless, my hat is still tipped to Cole. When No One is Watching is immensely enjoyable and gripping, even with the outrageous ending. It is expertly written. And it is in the running to be my favorite thriller of the year.

My sincerest thanks to Harper Collins Publishers and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions included herein are my own.

Bantering Books
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,537 reviews9,797 followers
April 30, 2023
**4.5-stars rounded up**

Needing a distraction from the stressors of everyday life, Sydney Green, decides to take one of the over-priced historic walking tours of her neighborhood in Brooklyn.

Sydney is a bit of a history buff and is curious to see what the tour will cover. She quickly realizes that the community she has lived in for her entire life isn't represented in the discussion.

It's hard to understand the history of a place while simultaneously ignoring the people who have lived there for generations.

Sydney decides to create her own, truly historic, walking tour of the neighborhood. With encouragement from her neighbors and friends, she begins to research the events and people she would like to cover.

It's a big task, however, and she can't do it all alone. Help comes in the form of a most unlikely source. A new neighbor, Theo, who just moved into the brownstone across from Sydney's offers to be her assistant.

She's hesitant to accept help from him. She doesn't really trust him, or understand what his motives may be. As Sydney sees it, him and his Lululemon-loving, live-in girlfriend, are part of the problem.

Gentrification, they call it. Wealthy people swooping in and taking over urban neighborhoods; raising home prices, tax assessments and rents for all, thus displacing the long-term residents in the process.

Sydney can see it happening around her, changing everything. Theo's persistent though and in a sort of dorky, yet charming way, he works his way through Sydney's defenses and into her life.

Before she knows it, the two of them are working together on a daily basis. Also, as it turns out, the girl Sydney assumed to be Theo's girlfriend, is actually his ex; it's complicated.

At the same time that they dive into the research process, events in the neighborhood begin to snowball. People are disappearing and both Sydney and Theo encounter strange things happening in the night.

It appears that something more sinister is going on than Sydney initially assumed, but who is going to believe her? Is she just paranoid, or is someone, or something, actually behind her neighbors mysterious disappearances?

I loved this story! I started out reading the paperback, but ended up switching to the audiobook and thought the narrators were fantastic.

When No One is Watching has a lot of layers. It is that rare type of Thriller that I would actually read again.

I've noticed the reviews are mixed and I totally get that. The narrative heads in a direction that won't be for everyone.

It definitely toes the line of Horror. I would comp this to Get Out meets Lock Every Door. If you loved either of those, I think you will enjoy this just as much!

Additionally, this story played to one of my biggest fears; knowing the truth about something and having no one believe you.

I guess it boils down to a feeling of helplessness. I love how Sydney fought back and how Theo supported her. Their relationship was great to read.

Overall, I found this to be a fast-paced, mind-reeling, horrifying modern-day Thriller and I loved every minute of it. Crossing my fingers this gets adapted into a film. It would be so fun!!

Highly recommend!

Profile Image for myo ✧༺ ༘♡ ༻∞.
742 reviews6,496 followers
July 18, 2020
The craziest thing about this book? Is that this shit could actually happen. Usually when i read thrillers i’m like “okay this could happen” but like it’ll have to be like the craziest thing ever but this book? This shit DOES happen. I enjoyed this book because it brought out the right kind of anger, frustration and fear. There were points where the characters were mircoaggressive and I wanted to put it down so bad but I literally could not put this book down.

I think the pacing was really slow at the beginning but i was enjoying the characters and their dynamic so i didn’t mind all too much, i think if it was maybe 50 pages less it would fix the pacing? but honestly i didn’t care all that much because once you get to the part where the plot twist at the end kicked in the pacing got so much better!

I really liked the main character, Sydney. I don’t think she was boring or useless like most main characters in thrillers. Maybe it’s because i got to read her use AAVE which added to her character. Which, the AAVE is another thing U enjoyed. Maybe it’s because I don’t read many books let alone thrillers where the characters look like me and tsk me. Also enjoyed her dynamic with Theo, ugh I just love a pathetic loser white man, you know?

I kind of guessed one of the plot twists but I didn’t mind, I like how it played out and I was still spooked. A lot of this book was scary but in the way that this could actually happen to me, like the uber scene? I take ubers very frequently and I get so scared when they take the wrong turn even when i can see that their gps told them to go that route.

I really enjoyed this book and it was actually the very first thriller i’ve ever given 5 stars. I love that Alyssa Cole branches out a lot with her genre’s and i could see her being the ‘Jordan Peele’ of thriller’s. I hope she rights more thrillers in the future.
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,439 reviews78.1k followers
August 10, 2020
"People bury the parts of history they don't like, pave it over like African cemeteries beneath Manhattan skyscrapers. Nothing stays buried in this city, though."

When No One Is Watching is an expertly crafted thriller that is as informative as it is entertaining. It's not easy for an author to unpack a large amount of American history in a thriller, but that's precisely what Cole has done here. What begins as a slow burning mystery eventually converts to a heart-pounding reveal, and while I think this story was incredibly creative and necessary, my only complaint was that the pacing felt off, and the ending felt as if there was so much packed in that might have been served better spread out a bit more across the length of the story. Knowing that Ms. Cole is a romance novel, I was pleased to see a bit of love story included in the narrative here, and found it to be such a welcome and positive inclusion which broadened the credibility of the characters. Highly recommended for those who have all but given up on the thriller genre, because this one is a must read that will renew your faith in a stale genre.

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,200 reviews40.7k followers
February 20, 2021
Wow! This is quite surprising! It’s not only well written, sinister, disturbing thriller, it is also thought provoking, informative, historical fiction tells us the unknown face and ethnical background of Brooklyn history which I found so interesting and which makes this book unique from the other regular thriller novels I lately read.

It’s great mash up of Us, Rear Window and other creepy neighborhood stories. Some parts also reminded me of third episode of Lovecraft Country which you should watch it immediately!

The story starts Sydney Green’s attendance to a walking tour at her neighborhood. She’s born and raised in Brooklyn and she witnesses the sudden changing of her environment. The people she knows already moved to another places and white, rich people started to buy houses, condos surrounded the place like uncontrollable growing weeds and as soon as “ for sale” signs are popping out, somebody takes out that sign and moving into that place.
Some strange things started to happen as soon as the new neighbors conquered the area who are planning a quite impressive rejuvenation.

Sydney thinks she may be acting like paranoid but she needs to find out real sources of her own fear by digging out the history of area and she reluctantly accepts the help of her new neighbor Theo, even though she is still suspicious about his motives. Maybe he is the real reason to her problems and he might be the part of a grandiose scheme. It’s all up to her to find out the truth.

It’s unputdownable, moving, eerie thriller about racism, classification, drugs and whirlwind, breath taking historical journey that I highly enjoy and recommend.

The publisher rejected my arc request but it is worth every penny I paid. It’s one of the best thrillers of the year.
Profile Image for H..
304 reviews1 follower
September 6, 2020
I love Alyssa Cole. But I'm a New Yorker and I reserve the right to be persnickety about literary representations of New York. Taking on Brooklyn as your muse is no small thing to commit to, and this particular Brooklyn felt very...off.

Earlier this year I read and loved N.K. Jemisin's The City We Became. The comparisons between When No One Is Watching and The City We Became are unavoidable for me because they're so thematically similar, but the latter is executed much more cleverly. Jemisin depicts gentrification as a sinister homogenizing force that steals cultural specificity from white people. That is, when white people align themselves with whiteness, they give up the true parts of their own heritage. They surrender their language, their food, the memory of their ancestors in exchange for the privilege of being considered white in America.

When No One Is Watching buys into the paradigm that all whiteness (and all Blackness) is the same. The book depicts a Brooklyn oddly demographically scant. There are "Black people," some of whom have their West Indian roots acknowledged but most of whom are just depicted as a reductive group. Then there are "white people," all of whom are clueless (or ruthless), cop-loving transplants from the suburbs. I think one unnamed East Asian person is mentioned one time. She is wealthy but less racist than her white friends. Every person belongs to an easily categorizable race, and their actions can be predicted based on that category. There are no Jewish people. No Hispanic people. No one speaks Haitian Creole or Yiddish or Spanish or Chinese. There's one guy named Abdul who briefly speaks in an unspecified language just called "his own language." This Brooklyn felt underpopulated and barren.

It felt like a cop-out to write about New York but then make up a fictional neighborhood for it. People were praising Cole's research, but it felt like she'd created an imaginary neighborhood that's pretty obviously based off of Crown Heights, except her neighborhood has no Orthodox Jews in it. I couldn't not find the implications of that chilling.

Small stuff was just...off? The protagonist, Sydney, takes Ubers and not subways, for example. I'm pretty sure Sydney never ventures into another borough, giving the book an oddly claustrophobic feel. The whole book is about gentrification but the protagonist is problematically nativist, reminiscing about the glory days of a perfect Brooklyn that has obviously never existed. I think there are ways to talk about displacement that don't make it sound like you need to live on the same land your family's owned for generations in order to claim a place in the world. It felt like she should have been wearing a Make Brooklyn Great Again hat; she had the same creepy ideology, just dressed up in a slightly different way.

At the end she In this way she doesn't seem to be of New York at all. This is a Brooklyn that is utterly hopeless, entirely without joy. This is a Brooklyn where the only possible future is toting a gun and killing everyone you have an issue with—which, again, is something I'm more likely to associate with people wearing Make America Great Again hats. In my experience most New Yorkers have never even seen a gun, let alone owned one, let alone used one. To have our protagonist do all of these things makes it feel like she herself would be more at home where the gentrifiers came from, maybe frequenting a shooting range in Connecticut to practice for when people step onto her property.

Cole depended a lot on telling and not showing; she had her protagonist make constant, wild assumptions about people and we needed to believe these assumptions were true in order for the book to have any meaningful context or development.

For example, Cole takes the time to put these two white lesbian women in the gentrified neighborhood and have the protagonist criticize them for being too obvious about their queerness. She says, "they seem to have been told all Black people are homophobic, so they go out of their way to normalize their presence." I'm not really sure why this had to be a part of the book. It makes no mention of the fact that same-sex couples are provably, statistically over-policed in New York; queer PDA is still dangerous in the city today. The narrator makes a bunch of assumptions about them, but we're just being told, not shown, and we're supposed to believe it's true. It just felt dangerously like "I don't mind gay people except when they're Too Gay."

All of the white people were racist in an easy-to-see, quantifiable way. None of the prejudice was implicit and at no point is the protagonist ever wrong about the white people she interacts with. I think that took out of a lot of potential within the story; Sydney is too good at just nailing people, when in reality one of the most painful things about discrimination is that it often reveals itself in subtle ways from people you thought were your friends. When No One Is Watching gets compared to Get Out, but one of the genius things about Get Out is that the main character, while certainly not being dim, believes initially that his relationship with his girlfriend is genuine.

It was also VERY weird that Sydney knew the names of literally every recently arrived gentrifier on her block? There are no strangers in the book, pulling out a lot of potential tension. Part of the point of gentrification is that the people moving into these neighborhoods aren't neighborly and don't want to get to know you. So while the white people are supposed to be menacing, there's this weird integrated neighborhood vibe going on that I've literally never seen in real life Brooklyn.

I'm also confused about what year the story takes place in. I assumed it was the present day since the protagonist uses familiar technology and slang still current on Twitter, but in retrospect it seems like a dystopian future Brooklyn where multiculturalism died a long time ago. The protagonist talks to an older neighbor who mentions that there was once a more multicultural Brooklyn where different people coexisted mostly peaceably. She says, "My grandmother used to tell me about her best friend growing up, a Jewish girl." Her...grandmother? So, like, according to this book, the last time multiple cultures and races co-existed in Brooklyn was in the early 1900s? Because that description of Brooklyn literally sounds like 2005. It's true that that Brooklyn is disappearing and tensions are mounting, but to have no acknowledgement that it ever existed in recent history just seems willfully ignorant.

As other people have mentioned, the pacing was wild and the characterization was whack. Overall the book's kind of a mess. For better books on New York, I recommend—as mentioned—N.K. Jemisin's The City We Became and Victor LaValle's The Changeling.
Profile Image for Christina.
545 reviews201 followers
June 15, 2020
EDITED TO ADD: To everyone, but especially white folks - if you are looking for a good book to read about what's going on in our country now with race and white violence, this is an excellent read. Though it takes the form of a suspense novel, and is extremely fun to read, it also does a fantastic job of letting white readers know what it is like for people of color to be targeted and to feel constantly unsafe. In addition to being a great thriller read, this book is educational and I learned a lot about redlining in Brooklyn, among other things, while enjoying a very good read. Read on for my original review.

This is an awesome book, and I have a lot to say about it, so buckle up!

This book is Get Out meets Rear Window meets The Stepford Wives, if the Stepford Wives wore Lululemon. As a past resident of Brooklyn very near where this books take place, I can tell you all her statements about gentrification are right on the nose. And not just in Brooklyn - this is happening all over the country. I WISH the “OurHood” posts weren’t so similar to NextDoor posts I see every day here in California. I loved the multiple perspectives, all of which the author nailed, and I especially loved Sydney.

I don’t agree with a previous reviewer that this book should flag that it’s about “social justice” issues for the reader. This book is about racism, which is a fact. It’s also about historical events like redlining, which are also facts. This is history and stuff white people should be reading more about. The book will draw readers in. No "racism warning” necessary. (And anyway the blurbs also mention Get Out, so the reader will know what she’s in for.)

Like Get Out, this is a scary story with awesome symbolism and a lot of laughs. It does a great job contrasting the irrational fears of some white people with the very real fears of black people. it’s also just a great book to let anyone blow off steam about the annoying crazy neighbors we all see posting on NextDoor, and what they might really be up to.

To sum up, pleasee read this book. It’s fun, funny, scary, has something important to say, and you’ll probably learn a few things along the way. The ending is wild, but it works. I love this author’s voice and sense of humor and she will be on my list of must-reads in the future.

Thanks to NetGalley, HarperCollins and Alyssa Cole for a preview of this great book which I think people will definitely be talking about.
Profile Image for Dr. Appu Sasidharan (Dasfill).
1,145 reviews2,177 followers
June 6, 2022

Sydney Green is born and brought up in Brooklyn. She is very proud of her neighborhood. Some of her neighbors are disappearing suddenly, and for-sale signs are popping up in front of their homes. Are the neighbors moving into the suburbs, or is it a portent of something sinister? Will Sydney be able to find it out? Are a selected rapacious bunch enjoying some prerogatives at the cost of innocent people? Are the boroughs of New York becoming too much extortionate for the proletariat? This novel will tell you the answers to these questions.

What I learned from this book
1) Real Estate in New York City
New York City is a place where something big is going on every day from a real estate perspective. It might be regarding the condominiums overlooking Central Park or the Billionaires Row or traditional mansions in the Upper East Side or the Modern lofts in Brooklyn. I have read very few books focussing on this aspect of the "Big Apple." Alyssa Cole is focusing on this facet of New York City
"They can break, but they can't erase," Gracie says. "They can build, but they can't bury us."

2) Racism that African Americans are facing in the USA
This is a topic that needs more in-depth analysis, especially after the events that led to the Black Lives Matter movement. I am glad to see that Alyssa Cole had done a splendid job in discussing sensitive topics in a subtle yet effective manner in this novel. She criticizes objectifying the black community in such an inappropriate manner in Western countries.

I still remember the first day when I went to Brooklyn. I went for a walk in an area considered one of the roughest neighborhoods in New York City. African Americans were the majority living there. I was told to be very careful while dealing with the people there by my friends. I decided to take a risk as I love to have a conversation with people from different communities. The crime rate was indeed very high there. But I found some of the loveliest human beings I have ever seen there who took care of me like their own son and made me comfortable. I am happy to say that I even got a couple of close friends from there. I think it is not the communities that have to change, but it is our mindset towards them that should be ameliorated.

"When I think of a Black community, the first thing that comes to mind—even if I don't want it to—is crime. Drugs. Gangs. Welfare. That's all the news has talked about since I was a kid. Not old people drinking tea. Not complex self-sustaining financial systems that had to be created because racism means being left out to dry."

3) Merits and demerits of history
History is not only learning about the past but also learning from the past to shape our present and the future. Is it ok if people are trying to forget the evil? We can see multiple such instances in history. The author is discussing this idea in depth.
"One is astonished in the study of history at the recurrence of the idea that evil must be forgotten, distorted, skimmed over. . . . The difficulty, of course, with this philosophy is that history loses its value as an incentive and example; it paints perfect men and noble nations, but it does not tell the truth"

My favourite three lines from this book
“A lot of people don’t even know that they can earn more than their entire life just by moving.”

“What is the proper response to seeing a child arrested? Arrested for something you can’t be sure actually they did even if they found guilty..”

“My hair is grey but my grey matter is still functional enough.”

What could have been better?
Alyssa Cole is an author who has the potential to write literary fiction like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This book shows us her potential in multiple parts. But sadly, she didn't utilize that talent to the fullest in this book. I am sure we will be able to see some extraordinary books from her in the future.

4/5 This is not a thriller with extraordinary twists. But still there is a high probabilty that you are going to love it.
Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,068 reviews3,614 followers
March 10, 2021
You ever get the feeling you read a different book than anyone else?🤷🏻‍♀️. I saw such great reviews for this book. I’d been looking forward to it for so long. But…then I listened to it.

This book had a bit of an identity crisis. This book was touted as a thriller. Hmmm…. but it didn’t come off as one at least till the end (sort of).

I felt like I was listening to three books all smooshed together into one. And well…. that never works well.

We start with Sydney Green who lives in Brooklyn keeping her mother’s secrets. She is watching her neighborhood in the midst of gentrification. And more and more of her long-time friends and neighbors are simply ‘disappearing’.

Midway the book moves into a bit of a romance mode. And don’t get me wrong at love a good romance! And these characters did have chemistry. But it just didn’t really fit with the feel of the book. Not sure why it was added in.🤷🏻‍♀️

The ending went full speed into thriller mode that was just too much too late! Once again didn’t fit the book….at all. I’m actually at a loss for words when it came to the ending.

A buddy read with Susanne who thankfully had a better experience with this book so make sure to check out her review!

Posted to: https://books-are-a-girls-best-friend...

Thank you to Libro.fm for my 🎧 to listen to.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
125 reviews82 followers
August 25, 2020
A haunting portrayal of gentrification, exposing the undertow of redlining, underhanded deals, and unfair taxes that prey upon hardworking homeowners. Covered by a glossy veneer of revitalizing a deteriorating community, gentrification in reality uproots lives by displacing poorer, often Black and minority, inhabitants with whiter, middle-class residents. When No One Is Watching is a slow-burn thriller set in Brooklyn that builds around this premise, a string of new move-ins triggering a gaslighting descent into psychological madness for Sydney Green and her close-knit neighbors of Gifford Place.

When No One Is Watching begins with dogged realtors trying to push the mostly Black residents to sell their houses for bad prices and VerenTech Pharmaceuticals threatening to establish their headquarters at Gifford’s shuttered Medical Center. These ominous developments are narrated in alternating perspectives: Sydney, a thirty-one year old divorcee who has moved back into her childhood home, and Theo, a white man who has moved in with his fiancée into the opposite house on the street.

Although a bit heavy-handed at times, Cole does an excellent job of incorporating informative tidbits about the gentrification history of Brooklyn, touching as far back as American colonists claiming the land from Native Americans. Cole captures the cyclical nature of oppression in its many forms, establishing how easy it is to erase identities of marginalized people and community—particularly when people aren’t paying close scrutiny, even easier when deep pockets are involved.

While Sydney has no qualms with uncomfortable conversations that confront stereotypes and racism, Theo never becomes much more than a romantic interest and mouthpiece for Cole to play out and critique proper dialogue between whites and blacks. Both characters have a trove of haunting secrets that manufacture suspense, but too much withholding of their backstories and deliberate vagueness caused frustration to overwhelm the intrigue. The villains are obvious, and hints are so heavily dropped that I was impatiently flipping pages for the reveals to finally happen.

As much as Cole kicks it up a notch with a chilling atmosphere, melding the nastier underbelly of historical fact with a psychedelic mystery, the crazy morphs into sheer implausibility by the last few chapters. As if I was reading an entirely new story, the absurdity of the ending left me scratching my head. This is ultimately endemic to the rest of the book, which was plagued with uneven pacing for most of the story. Rather than striking a balance between heavy exposition and thriller, each ended up clamoring for space and sending the flow off-kilter. Unfortunately, a salient topic and illuminating themes are not quite enough to transform this into a solid execution.

Many thanks to Netgalley and William Morrow for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for ✨ A ✨ .
427 reviews1,716 followers
December 31, 2020
“People bury the parts of history they don't like, pave it over like African cemeteries beneath Manhattan skyscrapers.”

Sydney returns home to Brooklyn after her divorce to take care of her sickly mother. Her beloved neighbourhood has changed and it seems like everything she loved about Brooklyn is disappearing - and fast.

With the help of her new neighbour Theo, Sydney researches into the history of the neighbourhood for a historic tour she's planning. However, the more she learns, the more paranoid she becomes.

But strange things start happening and there's no denying something sinister is going on.

This book surprised me. Before starting it, I was only half sure I was even going to like it. I read this with a few friends and we were wondering how Alyssa Cole was going to combine privilege, gentrification and thriller all into one book. At about 30% in I began to worry. But I pushed ahead and it all paid off.

This book is not a typical thriller. In fact I don't know why it's being pitched as a psychological thriller. It has elements from different genres which was awesome! I love a good genre blend!!

I'm still in awe of everything this book contained. It read like a contemporary, while also being educational (we love learning through fiction, kids!), mysterious, some romance (wink wink) and scary parts that had me regret reading at 2AM (I swear I don't know why I keep doing this to myself 😭).

Alyssa Cole made me feel more connected to these characters than I usually do when reading books like this.

As usual, I'm not going to give away too much about the plot. It's not a mystery if I tell you whats going to happen, now is it?

I highly recommend the audiobook. The narrators were really good. And listening to it made it feel 10 times spookier and really set the atmosphere.

4.5 stars

Buddy read with: May, Warda & Ameerah

« Thank you to libro.fm for providing me with an ALC »
Profile Image for Dorie  - Cats&Books :).
992 reviews2,772 followers
September 14, 2020
This was going to be a four star book until I got to the ending, more about that later.

I have never read this author before and I was interested in where she would go with this premise. The blurb for this book already tells a large part of the first half of the book. “ Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, for sale signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing.” What others called gentrification of the neighborhood she views more as destruction of the community. And where are all of the older black neighbors disappearing to???

I enjoyed the first two thirds of the book. I liked getting to know Sydney, a young black woman, what has brought her back to Brooklyn, her loves and losses. While overhearing part of a “walking tour” in her neighborhood she feels that there is no real history being talked about. She decides to organize her own tour which will delve into the real history of Brooklyn. She needs to do a lot of research and she has a lot of other things on her plate. She is still reeling from a recent betrayal and trying to keep up her mother’s garden which she has let go to weeds. The first point of view is Sydney’s.

Theo is white and has rather recently moved into an overpriced house that he and his girlfriend plan to renovate. The last few months have been stressful. He is recently unemployed and his relationship with his girlfriend is eroding. She comes from a background of wealth and doesn’t have much patience with Theo and his struggle to figure out his next steps in life. We will learn later that he has some secrets even she doesn’t know.

When Theo meets Sydney he is immediately captivated by her enthusiasm, determination, beauty and strength of character. When Theo learns that Sydney needs help with her research for the walking tour, he volunteers and she reluctantly agrees.

The middle third of the book reads a little bit like a romance, but the narration was good and I went with it. Some of the history that this duo reveals is very interesting, the white people who originally founded Brooklyn, the slaves who helped to build it, and the people who are living there now was insightful. I’m sure that many of the issues of racism and white privilege are authentic but then she begins to veer into speculation.

This was still a four star read for me until the dystopian like ending. I wasn’t prepared for the violence and completely unbelievable ending. I have now read more about this author and her background writing sci fi romance and then this ending makes some sense. It was, however, too far fetched and unbelievable for me.

I am reviewing the audiobook which I received from the publisher through NetGalley. The narration was well done and seemed to match the characters as I would picture them. This was a quick audiobook to get through and I would recommend that you read a bit about the author and then decide if this book is for you.

Profile Image for Michael David (on hiatus).
625 reviews1,538 followers
September 13, 2020
A well-executed thriller and a very timely read all in one!

Sydney’s predominately Black neighborhood in Brooklyn is going through gentrification. Her neighbors are moving out of their houses with no notice and no goodbye, and white families are moving in. Anxious to make sure everyone knows the roots of the community she’s almost always lived in, Sydney is researching information for a walking tour she’ll host as part of the upcoming block party on her street. Her new, white neighbor, Theo, is working alongside her as a research assistant. They are about to uncover something more sinister about the neighborhood than either of them could fathom.

The blurb says that this is “Rear Window” meets “Get Out”, which is pretty accurate...but there’s so much more to it than that. This is a suspenseful and anxiety-inducing thriller that is about many important issues: The aforementioned gentrification, racism, redlining. There’s a lot for people to learn as well. My jaw dropped when I read about Black America, a late-1800’s theme park about plantations and slavery. IT WAS REAL. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at this point. This book is very realistic, as a lot of it has happened/is still happening in real life. The ending is crazy, but the scary thing is...I can actually picture it happening sometime in our future with the way things are going in our world.

Author Alyssa Cole does a fantastic job with keeping the story moving and making us care for the characters. There are also some very funny moments and lines that are so accurate! There are definitely some Karens in this book. I think it’s a fantastic read, and one that should be read by those who enjoy realistic suspense and hard-hitting truths. This should also be read by those who say, “I’m not racist, but...”

4.5 stars. I’m thrilled to say this one didn’t disappoint.
January 25, 2021
Hot Mess!! I am not sure what to say about this one. What started as an insightful look into gentrification, history, poverty, and racism turned into an off the rails thriller with no thrills for me. Any insight into the themes I picked up on was lost with that ending, and this story missed the mark for me.

Another story that fell victim to this over thinker and a case of the wrong reader for this one.

I received a copy from the publisher on EW.
Profile Image for Danielle.
806 reviews401 followers
May 12, 2021
I didn’t feel like this book was a ‘thriller’ until the last few chapters. 🤔 I almost added this to my DNF list, simply because it wasn’t ‘thrilling’ and felt more politically fueled. 😬 It’s an okay read- a lot happens in those last few chapters and honestly if it were not for that, this would be a 2 or 1.
Profile Image for Sumit RK.
481 reviews457 followers
September 14, 2021
When No One is Watching is a part thriller, part social commentary and part contemporary romance. It is a mixture of genres blended together to craft a powerful story about racism, gentrification, and social justice in America.

Sydney Green is born and raised in Brooklyn, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo. But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly soon leads to the discovery of a conspiracy. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may not be routine but a sinister conspiracy. Where do the people disappear after all? Can Sydney and Theo find out before they too disappear?

When No One Is Watching switches back and forth between Sydney and Theo's POV. Sydney is Black, recently divorced, and recently moved back to NY to help her mother who is ill. Theo is white and recently moved into Sydney's neighborhood and is currently living with his abusive ex-girlfriend while they try to renovate this home. Sydney is trying to put together a more extensive compilation of the Black history from her neighborhood so she can do a tour, and Theo volunteers to help her.

This is not a thriller in the classic sense. Like Get Out, this is a scary story with lots of symbolism and strange happenings. I really liked the premise for this novel.. The book includes discussions on New York's history which add authenticity to the subject matter. Alyssa Cole touches upon many relevant issues like racism, economic inequality, racial profiling, police brutality, gentrification, colonialism this book doesn’t shy from tackling any topic.

The two narrators do a fine job of taking the story forward, with Sydney coming across as possibly paranoid and Theo as an untrustworthy character. Though I feel the story would have been better with Sydney as the sole narrator.

What starts out as a novel about discrimination and racism shifts into a romance midway and that didn’t quite work for me. As it got towards the end, the plot became implausible for me. The shift from contemporary romance to thriller mode happened a little too late which made the ending felt rushed. But the biggest drawback for me was that the book was more of social commentary and romance and less of a suspense thriller. So as a story it works just fine but if you are expecting an out-and-out thriller, it may fall short.

Overall, When No One is Watching is an engaging and well-crafted story. If you enjoy reading contemporary suspense, you will enjoy this book. Three and a Half Stars.

Many thanks to the publishers HarperCollins and Edelweiss for the ARC.
Profile Image for Tina Loves To Read.
2,456 reviews1 follower
October 17, 2022
I have to say this is not a thriller, but it is a psychological suspense/fiction book. I really wanted to love this book, and I push myself to finish this book. I could not making myself care about any of the characters, and I was confused most of this book. I think this book could have been great if it was done different because the thoughts behind the book is really good. Again, I do not think this is a thriller or a mystery.
Profile Image for Bookishrealm.
1,909 reviews4,799 followers
September 24, 2020
Well I don't think that I've ever read a book like this. This is absolutely bonkers. HAHA. I didn't expect a lot of what I read even though I heard a lot about this book before going into it.

So this is going to be a difficult book to explain without delving into spoilers, but I'm going to try my best. When No One is Watching is Alyssa Cole's debut into the thriller genre (although I would categorize this more so as horror than a thriller). If features a character by the name of Sydney who slowly watches her neighborhood experience these drastic changes. Of course, this entire book is an ode to the process of gentrification with realistic and terrifying consequences. First, let's just start by saying that Cole is a brilliant writer. This definitely feels a little like "Get Out" but with a different purpose and more realistic implications. I connected to this book because for a lot of people it is a reality. I currently live 5-10 minutes away from a neighborhood that is experiencing gentrification so seeing certain descriptions and elements described in this book literally made my skin crawl because this isn't a fantasy or made up things that might happen...they do happen every single day. I was definitely pulled in by the confusion and fear that Sydney faces as she watches her neighborhood change. The results of gentrification as implied in the twist at the end are things we learn as Black children when we're taught Black history. None of it and I mean absolutely none of this book felt far fetched. Sydney was easy to connect with as a character. The moments when she felt fear, anxiety, and sadness I found myself feeling the same way. She wanted nothing more, but to her save her community and I feel that Cole leaves the question to that answer open-ended because it's not that easy. Gentrification is such a complex thing that wanting to save a community and having a "happy ending" isn't realistic.

Now there are definitely a few criticisms of this book that I agree with. When this book is read as a thriller, the pacing is COMPLETELY OFF. It doesn't have the feel of a thriller and it feels as though absolutely nothing happens. However, I feel (as many readers have stated before me) that if this book is read as a horror, the pacing issue isn't as glaring. Don't get me wrong. I know that both the author and publisher have classified this as a thriller, but as a reader it definitely feels more on the horror spectrum. Also, a huge part of me wonders whether Cole was attempting to showcase the true slow burn of gentrification. It isn't always a quick process. In fact, sometimes it looks and feels as though not a lot is happening. There are a few changes that may seem noticeable, but for the most part everything remains "normal." Then all of sudden, as if it has happened overnight, the entire neighborhood changes. If that's what Cole was attempting to illustrate in her writing process, I think that it works. However, I do understand why readers would find it challenging. Then, there's the "romance." Personally, I felt like it was unneeded. I understand Theo's purpose in terms of representing the complexity of "woke" White people; however, I think the two of them could have remained friends. I honestly found it a little cringy, but that's just me.

Overall, I think that it is was a good jump into a new genre for Cole. She did an excellent job showcasing the process and affects of gentrification. The ways that White characters treat Sydney as they move into her neighborhood are interactions that Black people face all the time. The microaggressions blew me away and made it difficult to read at certain points because I've dealt with some of those same things. It was laced with so much interesting history about Brooklyn. I found myself googling things as I read. To be honest, I would love to see more books like this from Cole soon. She's just a gifted writer and I love that she has a willingness to explore other genres and do so in such an insightful and educational manner.
Profile Image for Jessica.
325 reviews366 followers
September 8, 2020
Full review https://justreadingjess.wordpress.com...

When No One is Watching was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Alyssa Cole really surprised me with this book. I read her Reluctant Royals series and really enjoyed it, but I didn’t know what to expect with her writing a thriller. Alyssa Cole included all of her best writing qualities in this book and an important issue. When No One is Watching is releasing at the perfect time with the importance of race issues in 2020.

Thank you Harper Collins/William Morrow Paperbacks and Edelweiss for When No One Is Watching.
Profile Image for Katie B.
1,294 reviews2,962 followers
August 27, 2020
There are many things I loved about this book even though it fell a little short in the thriller department. I was impressed how the author incorporated relevant issues into the story. I also appreciated how the story featured a Black female lead character as non-white characters are underrepresented in the thriller/mystery/suspense genres. (Definitely the case in other genres as well, but in my opinion the genres I mentioned have the worst record for diverse reads.)

Sydney Green has spent most of her life in the same Brooklyn neighborhood. But due to gentrification so many of her long-time neighbors have left and the new people moving in have drastically changed the look and vibe of the neighborhood. Sydney wants to preserve the history by giving guided walking tours of the area. Theo, one of her new neighbors, offers to help Sydney with her research. As they dig for info, let's just say things get weird and perhaps they should proceed with caution. The story alternates between the perspectives of Sydney and Theo.

I read books in this genre all the time, and I really feel like the author brought something new to the table. To take a topic like gentrification and to build a story around it was a brilliant move in my opinion. This wasn't a typical mindless read as it was definitely thought provoking. And the reason you feel uneasy, tense, and even angry while reading is because it feels so darn realistic.

The pace unfortunately is very slow for so much of the story but then the ending feels rushed. It doesn't hit all high marks for specific things I like in a thriller but the depth the author brought to the story and Sydney really outshines everything.

Highly recommend giving this book a chance.

Thank you to William Morrow for sending me an advance copy! All thoughts expressed are my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Lisa (Remarkablylisa).
2,253 reviews1,813 followers
September 9, 2020
This book is only good because it educates you on gentrification and the history of slavery and America and everything else that needs to be discussed but it is not a thriller.

There are no thrilling aspects for the majority of the book. There is no good build up. There are no moments where you think the characters are getting somewhere or working towards solving the issue of people disappearing. There is no logical path that moves towards the ending. It just wasn't a good thriller.

It read more as a fiction novel mixed with sci-fi in the end.
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