‘Stay Awake’ by Megan Goldin | #20BookOfSummer

Author : Megan Goldin
Title : Stay Awake
Pages : 350
Publisher : St. Martin’s Press
Publication date : August 9, 2022
Source : Netgalley


Liv Reese wakes up in the back of a taxi with no idea where she is or how she got there. When she’s dropped off at the door of her brownstone, a stranger answers—a stranger who now lives in her apartment and forces her out in the cold. She reaches for her phone to call for help, only to discover it’s missing, and in its place is a bloodstained knife. That’s when she sees that her hands are covered in black pen, scribbled messages like graffiti on her skin: STAY AWAKE.

Two years ago, Liv was living with her best friend, dating a new man, and thriving as a successful writer for a trendy magazine. Now, she’s lost and disoriented in a New York City that looks nothing like what she remembers. Catching a glimpse of the local news, she’s horrified to see reports of a crime scene where the victim’s blood has been used to scrawl a message across a window, the same message that’s inked on her hands. What did she do last night? And why does she remember nothing from the past two years? Liv finds herself on the run for a crime she doesn’t remember committing as she tries to piece together the fragments of her life. But there’s someone who does know exactly what she did, and they’ll do anything to make her forget—permanently.


Well, I must say I’m not entirely sure what happened here but I’ll do my best to put it into words.

Stay Awake‘ was one of my most anticipated books of the year. Let’s face it, with a blurb like that who wouldn’t be excited? On top of that, I absolutely loved Goldin’s previous book and so I expected a lot of insanely good things. Unfortunately for me, ‘Stay Awake‘ failed to convince me.

The story is told via two characters. One is Liv Reese. Whenever Liv falls asleep, she wakes up with no memory whatsoever of the last two years. This time, she wakes up in the back of a taxi with a bloody knife in her pocket and the words “Stay Awake!” written on her hands. The other point-of-view is offered by Detective Halliday. She and her partner are investigating the murder of an unknown man, who was found stabbed in an apartment. Unsurprisingly, these two events are connected but how?

What was definitely surprising, however, was how hard I struggled to get into this story. For the first half of the book, I contemplated giving up multiple times. It often felt rather repetitive and as if nothing much was happening, particularly in Liv’s chapters, set both in the past and the present. Liv’s storyline required a ton of suspension of belief I really wasn’t prepared for. She made mistakes that made me roll my eyes and if it had been mentioned one more time that she was sleep deprived, I would have screamed.

I couldn’t find anything to sink my teeth into. The pace was too slow, the tension too low, nothing about it was compelling or gripping, and I honestly started to wonder if this was the same author as the one from ‘The Night Swim’. Sheer determination, and because it’s Megan Goldin, made me stick it out and halfway through the story things started to pick up a little bit. But I think for me, it was already too late and I had lost most, if not all, interest. Sure, a part of me still wanted to know what happened but even the reveal left me rather cold and I found it all rather unconvincing. It’s a shame because the plot had some serious potential.

Looking at other reviews, I’m very much in the minority. Maybe my expectations were just too high. But nothing I said here will stop me from reading one of Goldin’s books again in the future and I’m excited to find out what she comes up with next. This one just wasn’t for me, I’m sorry to say.

Stay Awake will be published tomorrow! My thanks to John at St. Martin’s Press for the advanced review copy, which I received via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Bookshop UK

20 Books of Summer : 17/20

  11 comments for “‘Stay Awake’ by Megan Goldin | #20BookOfSummer

  1. August 8, 2022 at 1:07 pm

    Oh God, I’m starting this book and I’m really not in mood for slow read. 😐 Hopefully this works for me as I really liked previous books by author.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. August 8, 2022 at 1:17 pm

    Oh, how disappointing, Eva. I’ve seen the mixed reviews but was hoping you’d have a better reading experience. Excellent review💜

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 9, 2022 at 9:50 am

      I’m not sure I’m the best judge of books lately but I was sure glad to see I wasn’t the only one who was disappointed. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. August 8, 2022 at 1:47 pm

    That is disappointing Eva. 😞

    Liked by 1 person

  4. August 8, 2022 at 3:43 pm

    I’m sorry this one let you down. I am lucky that I’m one of the people that really enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 9, 2022 at 9:53 am

      I’m very glad to hear that you did! As did many others. I’m definitely in the minority.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. August 9, 2022 at 2:00 am

    Whoops, looks like I was wrong about you enjoying this one after all. xD I do get why this story isn’t for everyone though. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 9, 2022 at 9:54 am

      It seems there’s a line of over-the-topness (totally a word) my fiction isn’t allowed to cross 😂.

      Liked by 1 person

      • August 11, 2022 at 4:48 pm

        Haha I used to be the same, but now somehow I like the over-the-topness if it’s done in a certain way? Better to distract me from the ‘real’ world I guess. xD


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