Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Review: The Flight Attendant - Chris Bohjalian

The Flight Attendant
by Chris Bohjalian
Published: March 13, 2018 by Doubleday
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

Cassandra Bowden is no stranger to hungover mornings. She's a binge drinker, her job with the airline making it easy to find adventure, and the occasional blackouts seem to be inevitable. She lives with them, and the accompanying self-loathing. When she awakes in a Dubai hotel room, she tries to piece the previous night back together, already counting the minutes until she has to catch her crew shuttle to the airport. She quietly slides out of bed, careful not to aggravate her already pounding head, and looks at the man she spent the night with. She sees his dark hair. His utter stillness. And blood, a slick, still wet pool on the crisp white sheets. Afraid to call the police--she's a single woman alone in a hotel room far from home--Cassie begins to lie. She lies as she joins the other flight attendants and pilots in the van. She lies on the way to Paris as she works the first class cabin. She lies to the FBI agents in New York who meet her at the gate. Soon it's too late to come clean-or face the truth about what really happened back in Dubai. Could she have killed him? If not, who did?

4 Stars
Cassandra "Cassie" Bowden is a binge drinker, having accepted that she is just like her father. Her sister doesn't trust her, her coworkers are used to her being absent from dinner plans, and the bartenders at each of their flight stopover points know her drink of choice. When she awakens next to one of her many dalliances, she is surprised to find she spent the night when the last thing she remembers he's leaving. Sneaking out is easy, she's used to it, what she isn't used to is the blood and the pale pallor of the man lying beside her. Afraid to call the police Cassie runs and so begins a long, frightening trail of lying and looking over her shoulder. Did she do it? And if she didn't, who did?

I have had The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian sitting on my Kindle for a little while and I finally had the chance to dive in this last week. The cover and the blurb pulled me into this one, promising a novel filled with suspense and thrill and, my favorite, a lying unreliable narrator. Cassandra Bowden is the sort of main character you can both love and hate and, save for a handful of chapters told from the perspective of another, we have the pleasure of seeing everything unfold from the eyes of a beautiful, often drunk woman. She seeks love in the arms of one night stand men, she drowns every feeling in the bottom of a bottle, and she lies like she doesn't even know that the truth exists. She's in a terrifying predicament, made worse by her poor decisions and her bad habit. She is, however, a kind, loving person and her desire to uncover the truth and her will to continue just living daily is really refreshing for a main character being pulled through the mud. The occasional perspective from Elena was my least favorite and unfortunately I never got a real feel for her, as her chapters were boring and easily skimmable. Those breaks from Cassie's perspective threw me off, but ultimately made me like Cassie even more, she needed a few more people on her side.

Just as the blurb tells us, Cassie awakens from one night of spectacular drinking and finds herself in the bed of a handsome man, except he is no longer alive. From the very first page this book is twisted, the writing style perfect for this high anxiety tale. We travel alongside Cassie, visiting various airplanes, beds, destinations, and far too many offices of lawyers and agents. Chris Bohjalian uses Cassie's drinking problem to his advantage, leaving both the narrator and the readers unaware of what really happened that evening. We are just as unsure of Cassie's innocence, our trust in her wavering with every pour of a bottle and yet we also believe her. Though not fast paced, there is a significant amount of detail in The Flight Attendant and I could see every location Cassie visited on her hunt for both the truth and for normalcy in her life. Though not as edge-of-your-seat suspenseful as I expected, it was an enjoyable thriller that takes us into the mind of a woman unsure of her place in the world and the dangers of freeing your mind with alcohol.

The Flight Attendant was a unique read for me and while it wasn't a five star read it is definitely one I would recommend. It is twisted, especially near the end, and I never saw much of it coming.

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