Consent - Annabel Lyon
(Actual rating 3.5)
Consent follows the lives of two sets of sisters; Mattie and Sara and Saskia and Jenny. Mattie has a learning disability, is the apple of her mum's eye and sees the world through rose-tinted glasses loving everyone and everything, Sara is a bitter alcoholic obsessed with fashion, designer produce and living a fancy life. Saskia is a broke, undergraduate student and the more sensible twin, Jenny is reckless, there seems to be some minor allusions to her having mental health issues and is also obsessed with living a glamorous and expensive lifestyle. The first half of the book focuses on the sibling relationships between each set, Sara and Jenny seem to view their siblings as burdens however in the second half both sets of sisters are struck by tragedy. I'm not going to say what happens as I don't want to spoil the plot but there is a man who connects the two tragedies, Sara develops an obsession with him and Saskia tries to completely understand her twin by wearing her clothes, making decisions for her and constantly being beside her.
The first half of this novel was absolutely beautiful; the writing was so simple but effective and poignant. In the chapters between Mattie and Sara I developed a total soft spot for Mattie with her zest for life and obliviousness to Sara's negative thoughts about her, similarly I had more empathy for Saskia than for Jenny as Saskia seemed to be living in the real world whilst Jenny was more an adrenaline junkie. I could be totally wrong but to me the two sisters both represented the best and worst of humanity more strikingly between Mattie and Sara.
Consent explores complex family dynamics with Mattie bringing out the best of Sara's mother and the small amounts of compassion she has, Sara seems to dislike her family and just wants to be as far away as possible however when Mattie is left all alone she goes out of her way to be the one caring for her and feels this is her obligation, Saskia has always been the golden girl of the family but when she goes to university to study a more liberal degree she disappoints her parents and they are more proud of Jenny's achievements as she is well known in her field and can afford fancy restaurants. There's a really interesting part where it describes Saskia as being Jenny's control, however when Jenny has a life changing accident Saskia seems to lose all of her control and identity without Jenny beside her.
The second half of the novel primarily focuses on Sara and Saskia and how their lives start to intertwine, I felt like the reduction in both Mattie and Jenny's presence had a detrimental affect on the novel, it kind of felt like all the characters had more to give but the novel just hit a stale-mate situation. It also began to feel like some of the encounters and interactions and this point were drawn out, throughout the novel there's an obsessions with designer outfits and stores and famous designers, I felt like a little bit of this way okay to set the scene initially but it just ended up becoming a bit tedious and I would skim-read the parts set around designer stores or bars and restaurants. I found the ending to be the twist that keeps on giving, it was set up in a way that you had no idea what Sara and Saskia were planning, this had been done really well and I felt like the ending redeemed the latter half of the book.
I'd initially expected that due to the title Consent it would tackle a sexual kind of consent; it does not however it's still such an apt title as it explores consent throughout; families, relationships, lifestyle choices and in a magnitude of ways. I found it easy if occasionally uncomfortable reading reflected by the fact I read it within a day. I would recommend it to others as I found it an enlightening, thought provoking and enjoyable read.
Disclaimer: I received a free ARC of Consent from Netgallery in exchange for an honest review.