Book: This Darkness Mine
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Published by: Katherine Tegen Books
This psychological thriller is told through the main character’s perspective, Sasha Stone, as her carefully organized and perfectly structured world falls into pieces around her. Sasha is the best musician in her school and has worked her whole life to accumulate the best GPAs and academic recognition to get into her dream college, Oberlin, and someday become renowned for her talent. However, underneath all of her achievements and perfect façade, there’s girl with a manipulative, cold heart that has a hard time empathizing with others.
As she begins to experience memory loss, fatigue and a sudden, undeniable attraction and longing for the school’s biggest bad boy, Isaac Harver, Sasha discovers that she had absorbed her twin sister in the womb, and attributes all the new and unwelcome strangeness in her life to her dead sister’s presence inside of her, seeking revenge for her death. Sasha is convinced her heart is controlled by her sister and is unable to own up to the feelings she’s developed towards Harver, blaming it completely on her sister, along with all the other impulses that ‘perfect’ Sasha Stone would never have…
Personally, I thought the writing was very enthralling and had the capacity to pull you in and string you along until you read the very last word. That, combined with the thrilling and very unique plot, is enough to guarantee that I will be looking out for any of Mindy McGinnis’ work in the future. The imagery and descriptions McGinnis injects into the story are purposefully crude and verging on disgusting but I think it complimented Sasha’s cold, calculating and objective outlook on life. The pacing at the start was good and I enjoyed the way McGinnis revealed Sasha’s discovery of her sister and how she pieced everything that was happening together. It was only after she got to the cardiac center that I felt the pacing seemed to unnecessarily slow down, though I enjoyed how the hardships and sad reality of the patients ailing from cardiac failure awaiting a heart transplant to survive was portrayed. I don’t think many books do that and I felt for Sasha and all of the other patients.
One thing I felt was off was how everyone she told about her deceased twin sister’s influence on her actions seemed to just accept it. They’d be like, “Huh. Are you sure? That’s freaky” and then they’d move on as if it were the most normal thing in the world. Harver might have just pretended to believe it just to humor her but it’s still weird how that revelation didn’t raise any red flags for him. Her mother, too, just seemed to accept it at face value, and though they tried to write it off as a reaction to the grief and guilt over losing one of her daughters (a daughter she never even met that died SEVENTEEN years ago), her reaction seemed a little too unrealistic.
~Sasha Stone: Character Analysis~
The reader has insights into Sasha’s family dynamic (her father’s indifference towards her, her mother’s obvious depression, her parent’s lack of affection and communication with each other, Sasha’s ambivalent feelings towards her mother and the repulse she harbors towards her father, the three of them making up a dysfunctional and ineffective system of a family…), which could be one of the many roots that Sasha’s indifferent personality stems from.
Throughout the book, she exhibits many characteristics that are pertinent to those of a psychopath, some of which include the inability to feel empathy for other’s plight, her incapacity to establish deep and meaningful relationships with those around her, her constant manipulation of others with superficial charm to get what she wants with a complete disregard for their feelings, irrational thinking that borders on delusional… In one specific scene, her Dad tells her how he always knew there was something off about her even from an early age, how she always seemed to relish in other people’s discomfort. However, there were still a lot of elements and traits present in this book that could throw off that diagnosis.
Upon analyzing Sasha’s story and behavior, I could infer, as a reader, that Sasha’s need for perfection and control of everything in her life repressed some very real emotions and impulses that were necessary for her to grow up and mature, and when these feelings could no longer be repressed and manifested themselves she deemed them to be ‘wicked’, so accepting that they were coming from her was unacceptable. Discovering that she had a dead twin sister that she ‘killed’ was a convenient way for her to pass on the blame and remain ‘perfect’ while still enjoying the bad and dark side that lurked within her.
What really disappointed me in this book was Sasha’s lack of character growth. At some point in the book, she begins to accept that maybe all of those unwelcome impulses and desires weren’t entirely her sister’s fault, that maybe they were hers too. That led me to believe, or at least hope, that she would eventually come to terms with the fact that she was not perfect and embrace and accept her sister’s personality and needs as her own. However, just when I thought she was making progress, Sasha resolved to taking revenge on her sister, and that’s when things got weird. All I have to say is: poor Harver.
Speaking of Harver, I know that maybe his background was not essential to the plot, but I was very much intrigued about his reputation. What, exactly, made him ‘the bad boy’? More than once he hints at his perfectly good and functional relationship with his parents, how he doesn’t mess around with other girls and it is also clear that not only is he a smart guy, but he also has a big heart…. So, why is he portrayed as a delinquent? What makes him so?
~The Ending ~
The ending and epilogue left me speechless and they were the reason why I took so long to write this review. I can’t say I was disappointed exactly but I still felt it would’ve been more satisfying to see Sasha overcome her delusions (or at least what I believe to be delusions) and become her own person. But, alas, we do not live in a perfect world and the Book Gods can only grant us so much.
All in all, I do not regret reading this book. It was highly entertaining and it had me thinking and speculating the whole time. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys psychology thrillers that provide for an intense ride that forces you to analyze the characters and their circumstances, allowing you to form your own conclusions and hypothesis, only to have the rug pulled out from under you at the last minute and leaving you with a strong feeling of “What the @#$&%?!”.
Yep, that’s to whom I recommend this to.
B & L
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