Reviewed: Wednesday January 17, 2024.

Every year on her birthday after the disappearance of her best friend Bobby, Laura gets a letter from a stranger claiming to know his whereabouts. This stranger offers that information to her, piece by piece, in exchange for disturbing personal effects. This relationship goes on for years, time passes, and Bobby remains unfound - and then, her mysterious penpal suddenly disappears, leaving Laura thoroughly changed.

My rating
One and a half stars.

My review
Where even to begin with this book? It was dull, boring, uneventful, trite, any adjective you can think of, this travesty of a book was. It doesn't even deserve that title, it was just that dull. I've seen multiple people endorsing this book, recommending it as something thrilling and horrifying, something that you'd keep thinking about for weeks after reading it. It's very short - the audiobook was just an hour or two in length. I went into this with pretty high expectations, then, bearing the stellar reviews in mind.

The problem with this book isn't fully that it's boring, because that's just my opinion of it. Rather, the problem is that the book is too obsessed with itself in a way that is disarming to the reader, and that disarmament leads to its flaws being noticeable front and center. The primary antagonist of this book is, surprise surprise, Laura's penpal, who refers to himself with the moniker X. He's a run-of-the-mill predator and killer, every cliche movie villain rolled into one nauseating stereotype. Amor's X brings absolutely nothing new to the table, but nor does he subvert or play with any of the previous tropes established. That's okay. That's alright. But, and this is crucial: Amor is not equipped to handle the breadth of the monster she has created. This is where many films and books featuring non-fantastical villains fall flat for me: Too grounded in reality, and wholly incapable of sustaining their own mystery.

Amor paints X as a villain who is able to twist Laura up into knots, grooming her from a very young age to be pliant with his demands. Nothing about her relationship to him doesn't make sense, as sickening as it is. But all of this stickiness, all of this wrong feeling, deflates miserably towards the middle of this story where there are significant issues with the pacing as Laura rushes through adulthood, and that, combined with the increasingly (unintentionally) pathetic air of her tormentor leads the reader waiting for the book to end so they can get on with their day.

The ending had the same issue: Not surprising, not interesting. It's visible from a mile off, and not in a way that feels satisfying. All in all, I would not recommend "Dear Laura" to anyone who's not looking to waste a few hours of their life. It's boring, it's trite, it's a nothing kind of book.