The Missing // unreliable narrator basically losing her mind

The MissingThe Missing by C. L. Taylor
Published by William Morrow on 7 November, 2017
Genre: Adult fiction, Crime, Fiction, Mental health, Mystery, Psychological thriller
# pages: 482
Source: Giveaway
Rating: ★★★

You love your family. They make you feel safe. You trust them. Or do you…?

When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother, Claire Wilkinson, blames herself. She’s not the only one. There isn’t a single member of Billy’s family that doesn’t feel guilty. But the Wilkinsons are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn’t until six months later, after an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the truth begins to surface.

Claire is sure of two things—that Billy is still alive and that her friends and family had nothing to do with his disappearance.

The Missing was a psychologically thrilling journey. It was a whirlwind of a whodunit—a roller coaster of events and emotions; every time I thought I had things figured out, the plot thickened and the cart jerked me in another direction. One by one, secrets within the family are revealed, resulting in unreliable narrator and mother, Claire, struggling to figure out who she can trust—herself included.

It was a stressful ride for me to read, because I’m not familiar with British slang/lingo/etc., and Urban Dictionary is great and all, but Google Search can only pull up so much. So I had to guess and assume a lot of the time what was being said, and I’m thankful to have watched all seasons of E4’s Skins, because I doubt I’d have gotten as far as I had had I not watched it (I’ve watched it four times, heh #obsessed).

I read this book last year, but never got around to publishing it on my blog?? I don’t publish every book review to my blog, but I keep linking to this post despite its lack of published status. I think The Missing was a good book, but I did take a few issues with it, all regarding…

Character development

Claire’s greatest fault is that she is an unreliable narrator, but I don’t feel it should count toward faults and developing from them in a not-Mary-Sue way of speaking, because everyone else has had to acknowledge shitty things they did, whereas she basically sat there expectantly, as if she was a saint. Beyond her blackouts, she has nothing she has had to acknowledge for fault.

As a result, she constantly attacks people around her—she has one of those freakishly obsessive personalities you can’t talk a person out of to make them realize, because she’s so far off from it. I understand her son has gone missing, but in numerous other fictional stories—and then in the nonfictional stories—regarding abduction, therapists have often acknowledged this obsessive personality and offered up treatment/emergency plans for when it happens.

I was disappointed in the conclusion due to this St. Claire attitude. To me, it wasn’t fair that the mother was portrayed as a do-no-harm persona whilst everyone around her walked on eggshells.

I grew to dislike Claire for the reasoning above. At the end of the day, she’s not super likeable, and she doesn’t seem grateful to have the support system she does.

Altogether, Claire felt like a hypocrite from start to finish.

Dissociation in The Missing

There are instances of dissociation in this book, and it was interesting to read about it. The author did well in illustrating the terror one feels after exiting one. However, after Claire exited one fugue state, something that was never again mentioned since happened—and it seems to me mighty important?? It was misleading, like it was thrown in for decor as if it was nothing more than a bouquet of flowers in a vase: the flowers aren’t needed to make the vase, but they’re there, so they are admissible.

For me, this thing added to her unreliability—can I even trust her at all? Can I trust anything she’s said in all these pages?


I rated this 3/5, even though it’s an accelerated reader copy—I didn’t rate on grammar, so that’s a start. I guess that, because of this lacking (i.e. a flaw to acknowledge and develop towards the end), I feel more indifferent about this book than I’d have liked. She was in everyone’s business. She didn’t have that epiphany most multidimensional characters have. I kept turning page after page after I got into it, but the more familiar I became with Claire, the less I wanted to be in her life.

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