How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie recently won when I asked all of my social media followers to vote for what book I should read next. Evidently, this means it’s a very popular book and one which I’ve seen mixed reviews for. It’s dark, it’s funny but I’m just not sure how much substance it has.
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How To Kill Your Family is a book about Grace’s determination to kill her father’s side of the family having been planning it since she found out he left her mother to fend for herself despite being an incredibly wealthy individual. As aforementioned, Grace then goes on a killing spree of her father’s offspring and family in an attempt to, I presume, make herself feel better for the loss of her mother and take some revenge on him for never being there for her.
How To Kill Your Family Plot – 3/5
The story in How To Kill Your Family is fairly simple – we start off with Grace in Limehouse Prison for a murder she actually didn’t commit retelling the tales of some murders she did commit. It sounds like a really good premise and one that could have been executed so much better.
Firstly, the murder she supposedly committed isn’t interesting enough to have made her as famous as she and her prison mate keep going on about. Secondly, the murders she does commit are done in such an incredibly dull way. Yes, some of them are more clever than others and there is definitely some meticulous planning involved at points – but I never really cared when one of the characters died and I felt very underwhelmed when suddenly they were dead.
Then there’s the ending. The final section of the book felt like Mackie ran out of things to say and wanted to round off the story quickly with a fairly weak attempt at a twist.
Mackie clearly has a talent for writing and the prose was incredibly enjoyable. However, the story itself just never felt like it got going. I know it is a fictional story of someone retelling the events of how they murdered some people but it really felt non-fictional in how dull these were told. Then there’s Grace herself…
How To Kill Your Family characters – 3/5
Grace is the lead in How To Kill Your Family – yes she meets other people and has some mildly interesting interactions with others, but every story is told from her very opinionated point of view. And this is where it began to grate on me. I’m a fairly opinionated person myself, however, Grace seemed to have a fairly strong assumption of almost every single individual she meets and even doesn’t meet. She starts to become quite unlikeable and egotistical throughout with her thoughts and musings becoming degrading and almost mean at some points.
I’m not easily offended and I love some harsh truths, some of which I agreed with in this book. However, to add “personality” to Grace it felt like Mackie was choosing to insult everybody in one form or another for the sake of giving her depth. What it created, however, was a 20-something woman who seemed to have this false grasp of humanity and how everything worked despite being so young.
Don’t get me wrong, there were moments where I laughed, smiled and possibly agreed with Grace’s opinions on people and cultural references, however, it simply began to become too much towards the end with it starting to become expected and monotonous.
How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie overall rating – 3/5
I wanted to like How To Kill Your Family so much. I like a good, dark sense of humour, I liked the premise for the book and I’m a big fan of Greg James, Bella Mackie’s husband so, vicariously through him, a fan of Mackie. However, with an incredibly dull plot, an annoyingly opinionated and honestly unlikeable character and a weak “twist” of an ending, the fantastic writing and rare moments of comedy just weren’t enough for me to recommend this one.