AWAIT YOUR REPLY by Dan Chaon [Review]

Await Your Reply

In Dan Chaon’s new thriller, Await Your Reply, he explores the meaning of identity in today’s world of computers and the Internet. He makes the reader think about what constitutes a person’s identity besides personal data like social security and bank account numbers that are sitting on a server somewhere. He also looks at the sometime romanticized idea of abandoning your old life and starting over as someone new. For the characters in this book, the reality of a new identity is a lonely existence that also has dangerous consequences.

Await Your Reply follows three separate storylines of people who have left behind their families to start a new life. Ryan walked away from his life as a college student when he found out he was adopted. He lives with his biological father in the backwoods of Michigan where they are engaged in identity theft. Lucy graduates from high school and runs off with her history teacher, George Orson. He’s promised her a luxurious lifestyle, but when they end up in a deserted motel straight out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, you have to question his motives. Finally, we have Miles who has spent ten years searching for his twin brother, Hayden, a paranoid schizophrenic who may have started the fire that killed their mother and stepfather. Hayden doesn’t want to be found and outwits Miles at every turn, but Miles can’t seem to get on with his life until he finds his brother.

As the story constantly shifts between the three different storylines, the reader is given pieces of the puzzle to try to put together. In the end, I thought the puzzle came together in a satisfying way, though I still have a few questions. I also thought the characters were all interesting, but I never really felt connected to them. They didn’t seem that real to me, so I wasn’t too invested in their outcomes.

Await Your Reply is a dark novel that is full of suspense and twists and turns. It’s a thriller, but the action is balanced by the characters’ struggles with their identities and feelings of isolation. As much as I enjoyed it, it’s more than a little depressing and I think I need to go read something happy now.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars | Publisher: Ballantine Books | Pages: 336 | Buy on Amazon

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