BOOK REVIEW: The Gift by Louise Jensen

The Gift is the new novel by Louise Jensen, author of The Sister. Even though I have yet to read The Sister, I've heard very good things about it, so I'll definitely be picking it up soon. I felt drawn to The Gift, particularly due to its rather interesting premise.

Jenna's life is changed when, after an illness, she has to undergo a heart transplant. Now recovered and facing many more years of life, rather than feeling lucky about her situation, Jenna is unable to shake off the guilt she feels. Guilt that she is only still alive because someone else is dead.

Worse still, Jenna has been experiencing strange dreams and thoughts since her operation - thoughts that don't seem to belong to her. And since leaving long-term boyfriend Sam, it's proving difficult for Jenna to share her worries. The dreams won't stop, leading her to believe that this isn't simply a coincidence.

Despite the warnings of both her therapist and best friend, Jenna tracks down the family of her donor. Her heart, she soon discovers, had belonged to Callie, a young woman who died in a car crash. Even though the investigation was closed, with Callie's death ruled as accidental, there are still some unanswered questions about what happened. Why was Callie driving in that particular area? Was her boyfriend involved? When Callie's distraught father admits that the uncertainty keeps him awake at night, Jenna decides to investigate the case herself.

Feeling as though Callie's heart is attempting to give her answers, Jenna sets out to solve the mystery surrounding her donor's death and finally bring closure to her family. The strange dreams that Jenna experiences provide clues to Callie's life - people, places, glimpses into her final days. Jenna is even starting to like foods that she didn't like before; foods which Callie loved.

Jenna researches the odd goings-on, leading her to discover the theory of Cellular Memory - a hypothesis that memories can be stored in cells. By inheriting Callie's heart, has Jenna taken on a part of Callie herself?

Whilst her therapist and friends are concerned about her new 'obsession', Jenna is getting ever closer to working out what happened on the night of Callie's death. She even tracks down and befriends Callie's boyfriend Nathan after her suspicions grow, but can he really be responsible? Meanwhile, as Jenna focuses her efforts on Callie, other aspects of her life are starting to become difficult. There's her relationship with Sam, and the job as a veterinary nurse which she once loved. Her constant mistakes are driving her to believe that returning to work so soon was a bad choice. As Jenna learns more about her donor's life, her own is falling by the wayside.

But she has to find out what happened - and figure out what Callie is trying to tell her.

The Gift is an addictive, fast-paced read. It was impossible to put down. I enjoy thrillers and had expected to be taken with this one, but it was much more gripping than I had envisioned. I personally loved the concept of Cellular Memory in The Gift, which was such an original premise. It gave the novel a slightly supernatural feel, which I loved. There were various possibilities when it came to Callie's death, and plenty of ways to keep the reader guessing, but I thought the outcome was unpredictable. Obviously I don't want to give spoilers here, but I felt that the ending was perfectly written. Nothing was left out, nothing left me disappointed (something I've experienced with a few thrillers recently.)

Great pacing, well-developed characters and an original plot make The Gift a fantastic thriller. Louise Jensen is a very talented writer, and I'm looking forward to reading her future releases as well as The Sister.

Rating: 5/5

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