Book Review: Second Life

Second Life is a thriller by author S.J.Watson. Full review on the blog

Second Life follows the protagonist Julia, a photographer living a seemingly normal life with her husband and son in London, but from the start is peppered with delicious hints at a dark past, that Julia toys with in her narration.

The main plot follows the second life that Julia creates and juggles with her own, after her sister is brutally murdered in Paris. Julia takes matters into her own hands to try and solve the big mystery to unmask her sister’s killer. Jumping into the digital unknown, Julia creates an online persona to lure her sister’s killer, but it soon crosses the digital line, stepping into real life with dangerous consequences.

The back story and the present story are slowly & simultaneously teased out in the first half of the book. When I say slowly, I mean REALLY SLOWLY!

I desperately wanted to like this book but there were too many glaring plot holes I just couldn’t ignore. Her back story was pretty predictable in some places but any element of interest or surprise was dragged out so far that by the time you got to digest a new piece of the story it was a huge anti-climax.

Julia is very annoying as a character, she seemed to take a bloody age to do anything at all, especially looking for her sisters killer – I know I would have been knocking on people’s doors long before Julia even looked at her sister’s belongings. Just too unrealistic, I think whether the relationship was strained or not the love of your sibling would kick in and you would demand answers. And if that wasn’t the case I would expect the author to present some compelling storyline that excused the character.

The plot finally sped up in the second half of the book but became completely ridiculous. The connections between characters were flimsy at best and I think the author was clutching at straws with his attempt at a plot twist. I must admit a couple of surprises were welcomed near the end but nothing mind blowing. It was almost as if the author were trying to be too clever and too sensational that he started with scattered twists and tried to make them all fit together somehow.

I also found that the author’s writing and narration through Julia, was monotonous and lackluster; the author describes the scene like a disinterested estate agent trying to sell an ugly house. It was rather flat and unimaginative.

I will add that the book wasn’t so bad that I totally lost interest, I guess the anticipation is there but not because it’s tantalising, more because you keep convincing yourself that the build up must be so drawn out for a good reason. Unfortunately not.

Overall an interesting look at the dark side of online social interaction and a good effort from the author to gel an unlikely back story and an even stranger double life for the protagonist…. But for me I’m afraid the plot was too stretched and totally unrealistic.


A Bland, unrealistic and slow read with some gaping plot holes. Mild entertainment found only in the second half of the book. Don’t waste your money, read it only if you are bored and its free!

Do you have any good thrillers to recommend?



ps. Have you listened to Serial, the real life crime podcast?

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