Ruth Ware is a power house in the mystery/suspense genre, and I was in the mood for an isolation read amidst, you know, pandemic quarantine. So, I was thrilled to receive an eARC of One by One.
Snoop, a start-up music streaming app touting connection and anonymity, is holding a corporate retreat at a remote ski chalet. Alternating between Erin, the chalet's host, and Liz, the outlier with mysterious ties to the company, we meet a cast of quirky, hipster characters, from the hot-head CEO Topher who's used to getting his way, to Eva, the stylish and painfully ambitious co-founder who's hell-bent on monetizing the company before they go bankrupt. When an avalanche decimates part of the chalet and Eva is presumed dead, the remaining guests are forced to question each other, spinning a web of lies and suspicion that carries to the very last page. First, I'd like to say that I loved this read. The Death of Mrs. Westaway was difficult for me to get through, and comparatively, I found this to be a much more interesting title. While there are certainly themes of merit and critiques on our reliance on social media, Ruth Ware has created an immersive, effortless read that is more of a distraction than a study. For this, I was engrossed. Breathing life into the staff and guests, the mountain itself becomes a character, and I could've been sitting in the room itself, snuggled up in front of the fire watching the hours tick by on the mantel as we waited for help. Ware nailed the dialogue and structure; having each chapter start with user stats was genius and added to the intrigue, helping us get to know the characters through song choice while enforcing an sub-layer of tension. The plot, as a whole, is not terribly difficult to figure out. The characters discuss motives in detail, introducing doubt about alibis and motives and dismissing them just as quickly. The fun, then, is not in the "whodunit" but the "will he/she get away with it" aspect. Ware's exposition to get to the final climax is expertly built and executed, and I appreciated the skill in which she used the character arcs to push the tension. This is a very character driven novel, but the pace is quick and light in spite of the murders, a perfect read to take your mind off things or get lost in the mystery. Overall, I really enjoyed One by One. Atmospheric, fun, and delightfully twisty, One by One is a winner. Thank you to Gallery/Scout and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.