Author: Anne Heltzel
The premise for Charlie, Presumed Dead grabbed me and I had high expectations for a gripping read. It definitely kept me guessing and there were some spectacular twists.
Written in the first person by multiple people does make it a little difficult to keep up at times and there are times that it almost seemed the characterisation blurred. Lena and Aubrey are two very different girls, from very different backgrounds who both managed to have a long term relationship with the same guy. A fact they only discovered at his memorial service after the plane he was flying exploded and he was presumed dead.
Charlie Price was the son of a wealthy family who attended the best schools and was very well travelled. He was also suffering from a quite serious mental health issue which had gone unnoticed for most of his life. He was living two completely separate lives, with two very different girlfriends…. except I don’t think they were quite as different as we were lead to believe. They had very different backgrounds, and very different upbringings but the fundamentals of their personalities weren’t quite so opposite. Lena was blond and Aubrey brunette and most of their differences were quite superficial.
Lena is the spontaneous rich kid who has been in a relationship with Charlie for three years, she has given him her heart and is completely devastated by the loss. She has spend time with his family and is quite close to his parents.
Aubrey on the other hand has been quite sheltered and is the midwestern good girl. She was once totally smitten with Charlie but things had started to change. She went to the memorial service, and realised she knew no-one and had very nearly missed knowing what happened at all. Her relationship with Charlie had always been long distance and she hadn’t met his family or friends.
Lena and Aubrey discover Charlie’s duplicity at the memorial service and end up embarking on a pilgrimage to discover answers. They now know he was a liar and are out to discover what else he was lying about. Lena has it in her head that his disappearance could be planned and he’s still out there somewhere and she wants to find him. Aubrey isn’t sure that’s possible but allows Lena to convince her to go with her on a hunt for answers to all the questions this discovery has raised.
This seems to be one of those books that lots of people absolutely loved and just as many absolutely hated, I fell in the middle. There were some things I really loved but on the whole it didn’t quite reach the heights I had hoped for it.
There is an element of having to suspend disbelief because the idea of the two of them deciding their shared betrayal means they should take off on a whirlwind quest across continents to chase down the spectre of a guy they both dated after having known each other a day is a little hard to believe. They don’t trust each other, that much is established, so why willingly put your fate in their hands? If I’m not sure I can trust someone I certainly won’t be putting my safety and wellbeing in their hands, and allowing them to finance an intercontinental trip.
Unexpected twists, there were plenty, and the ending was an absolute cliffhanger. The story left me with questions unanswered and wondering about the depth of the behind the scenes involvement that we were never made aware of.
At times I found it hard to keep the characters straight but I must admit to being enthralled by the rather disturbing looks into Charlie’s head. He was a very messed up young man in desperate need of help.
This book was definitely disturbing and it kept me intrigued trying to work out where it was all going to end; but I’m not sure I liked the girls and I was definitely completely creeped out by Charlie.
If you can suspend disbelief, abide profanity and ignore the whining of these two girls who can’t decide whether they hate each other or would be best friends in different circumstances then give it a go. I enjoyed it, except the cliffhanger – I hate them, and I would definitely read a sequel if there was one because I have questions that need answers but I’m not sure I loved it like I had hoped I would. The premise is undeniably gripping but it didn’t quite do for me what I wanted.
Charlie, Presumed Dead is available through Nero Publishing and in all good bookstores.