Rachel Hall's Reviews > The Pact

The Pact by Amy Heydenrych
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it was ok
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A potentially decent novel marred by its over the top female empowerment agenda that stifles any coherent plot & a slow pace.

Despite not having read Amy Heydenrych’s first novel, Shame on You, I was aware that it was recognised as making some very pertinent observations about the all pervasive world of social media. The premise of The Pact intrigued me and I had high hopes for a tension fuelled workplace thriller with a look inside one of Silicon’s Valley’s hottest start-ups and women in the male dominated tech industry. Disappointingly, it was not only painfully slow and repetitive but the author seemed so concerned about scoring points and the agendas she had for the novel that it snuffed out any chance of a gripping storyline.

The novel opens on the morning after the vicious murder of thirty-one-year-old, Nicole Whittington, an employee at the hottest technology start-up on the block, Atypical. Battered to death with a bronze sculpture and propped up in the shower like a doll, even the lead investigator who lets reporter, Isla Davis, into the crime scene seems shaken up. As the narrative winds back to three months before the murder and the perspective of Atypical’s newest recruit and Nicole’s colleague, Freya Matthews, it tells the story of how she has overcome her past to secure such a prized job. From life as a foster child and sleeping in her car throughout college, Freya has battled against all the odds to make a success of her life and is about to begin work at a company that cares about women and is using its resources to take Wi-Fi to some of the worlds most rural villages and provide medical relief.

But alongside enigmatic Atypical founder, clean-cut Julian Cox, it doesn’t take long for Freya to catch the eye of office bad boy, Jay Singh, or to make an arch enemy of Nicole, whose team she is a member of. Although the reader never hears from Nicole, her bullying and undermining of Freya is a little too juvenile to believe that it would actually go on and colleagues would not comment or intervene, despite the reason behind it (both women being romantically involved with Jay), made apparent early on. If only the premise had made clear that the revenge prank was all whipped up due to jealousy over a man and a slimy one at that, then I would have saved myself a few wasted hours! What follows is excessively drawn out, repetitive and could have easily been streamlined and fitted into half the number of pages as it limps onwards. My interest waned, the story lost its momentum and the character of Jay becomes less and less credible.

The narrative veers all over the place, moving back and forth from the night of the murder to years before and weeks after, with chapters in the third-person from San Francisco Times journalist, thirty-one-year old Isla Davis and the prodigiously talented Freya Matthews. There are even snapshots to ten years earlier and the night that changed Isla’s life and brought Inspector Simon Cohen into her orbit. As the narrative swings from past to present, never once do readers get to hear the thoughts of Nicole prior to her death or from the source of so much trouble, Jay Singh. It is only in the penultimate chapter that what actually happened to Nicole on the night of the murder is revealed.

Although I found both Freya and Isla hard to connect with and was frustrated by how they tackled the issues they are faced with on multiple occasions, I appreciated how their histories had shaped their outlooks and left them fragile. For being a smart and savvy modern young woman I was disappointed at how Freya turned doe-eyed at the first sign of Jay’s attention and lapped up his stories and excuses without question. She certainly wasn’t a great role model for modern working women and Isla too seemed as interested in her male police contact as reporting on the case. To be honest, there are some very surprising twists that I certainly didn’t pick up on ahead of their arrival, but the pity is that these are never given the space or allowed to have their full impact before the author swiftly follows up with another chapter about female victims, females being undermined in the workplace or forced to contend with unhealthy workplace relationships.

On the whole the novel felt like a missed opportunity and despite Amy Heydenrych making some relevant and timely points about gender inequality and toxic female friendships, it rather got lost alongside a narrative than feels firmly anti-male. This is even more disappointing when the revenge prank appears to stem from jealousy regarding sleazy Jay Singh, who along with Julian seems to manipulate so much of the female behaviour. After the frustratingly slow pace of the bulk of the novel the concluding chapters feel abrupt and unsatisfying, and left me with several unresolved questions and serious reservations about the novel.

With thanks to Readers First who provided me with a free copy of this novel in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
Finished Reading
November 15, 2019 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by Sid (new)

Sid Nuncius You're saving me from some pretty grim reading experiences just now, Rachel. Thanks! :o) xx

Rachel Hall My services to fellow readers.. or something like that! xx

message 3: by Sid (new)

Sid Nuncius 😊 xx

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