If She Wakes

If She Wakes

Discover the electrifying new novel from New York Times bestselling author Michael Koryta, the "master" (Stephen King) of thriller writing, the story of two women fighting for their lives against an enigmatic killer.Tara Beckley is a senior at idyllic Hammel College in Maine. As she drives to deliver a visiting professor to a conference, a horrific car accident kills the p...

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Title:If She Wakes
Author:Michael Koryta
Rating:
Edition Language:English

If She Wakes Reviews

  • Monnie

    4.5 stars, actually.

    To the best of my recollection, I've read only one other book by Michael Koryta (

    in 2016, to which I gave 5 stars). And "Short Story," which he co-wrote with Karin Slaughter for the 2017

    compilation was my favorite of the bunch. So it was that I was delighted to get an advance review copy of this book from the publisher (via NetGalley). In fact, I stayed delighted all the way through the nonstop action; when I got within shouting distance of the end, not

    4.5 stars, actually.

    To the best of my recollection, I've read only one other book by Michael Koryta (

    in 2016, to which I gave 5 stars). And "Short Story," which he co-wrote with Karin Slaughter for the 2017

    compilation was my favorite of the bunch. So it was that I was delighted to get an advance review copy of this book from the publisher (via NetGalley). In fact, I stayed delighted all the way through the nonstop action; when I got within shouting distance of the end, not even this season's final episode of "Madame Secretary" could make me turn off my Kindle (well, okay, I finished up during the commercials, but you get my point).

    Tara Beckley, a senior at Hammel College in Maine, is tapped to escort a high-profile keynote speaker to his presentation at the college. Although they're on a tight schedule, the visiting professor asks her to show him some of her favorite spots in and around campus. Reluctantly, she agrees - even when he decides to get out and walk. Shortly thereafter, a car comes out of nowhere, mowing down the professor and knocking Tara into a bridge barrier. When she awakes (if you can call it that), she's in a hospital bed unable to move or speak. Readers know she can think, see and hear, though - but that's of little consequence because everyone around her (except perhaps her sister Shannon) assumes she's in a coma from which she'll never recover. If they all give up on a possible recovery, what would happen next is almost too frightening for her to bear.

    Meanwhile, former race and stunt car driver and now insurance investigator Abby Kaplan has been hired by the college to look into the college's potential for liability - after all, it provided Tara as an escort. To prove there's no fault, she must dig into every angle of how the accident happened. Right from the git-go, though, she learns one very important thing: The accident definitely wasn't an accident.

    Thrown into the mix is a very nasty predator known as Dax and his "boss" Gerry Connors, both of whom have intense, but perhaps different, interests in the late professor and what he really was up to. Then there's Hank, Abby's boss, mentor and friend, and Tara's aforementioned sister Shannon - Tara's strongest ally. And don't count out Tara herself, who struggles to make her family and doctors believe she's still "in there." Everyone who loves her, of course, is pulling for her return to the real world. But Dax and others are watching her progress closely; if she recovers, it's likely she'll need to be silenced - this time, permanently.

    Chapters flip among the various characters, holding my attention throughout and providing me with inside looks at what they're thinking before, during and after they do it. To that end, though, I must say that I marveled at how quickly and in-depth the characters figured out what was happening and how they should handle the situations. I like to think I'm a fairly intelligent person, but put me in high-stress, life-threatening scenarios like these folks faced and it would take me months to decide what to do next (by which time, of course, I'd be six feet under). Then, too, I do think the medical professionals should have been able to detect brain activity long before they did in this case.

    That noted, everything comes together to make for an exciting journey that ends with...oops, almost forgot that's not my story to tell. It's the author's -- and it's a doozy. Very entertaining!

  • Kat Dietrich

    is a psychological thriller

    Tara Beckley, a student at Hammel College, is currently escorting a rather tense Dr. Armandi Oltamu, back to the school so he can speak to the students on “batteries”. On the way,

    is a psychological thriller

    Tara Beckley, a student at Hammel College, is currently escorting a rather tense Dr. Armandi Oltamu, back to the school so he can speak to the students on “batteries”. On the way,  he requests a more scenic route. When Tara pulls over by the foot-bridge, they both get out of the car and he snaps some pictures, asking Tara to lock his phone in her glove box. That accomplished, they both turn as a vehicle slams into them. Oltamu is dead, and Tara ends up in a coma.

    Carlos Ramirez immediately confessed to causing the accident.

    Abby Kaplan is an insurance investigator hired by Hammel College to investigate the accident to make sure they will not be sued. An ex-stunt driver, Abby immediately sees an issue. There is no way Ramirez’s story adds up. Then she discovers that the doctor's phone is missing.

    Dax Blackwell, a young man with a black cap and hoodie looks like an innocent teenager. He is a killer, and he is looking for that missing phone. There is big money on the line. He isn’t the only one looking.

    Tara may be in a coma, but she is aware of everything going on around her. Her sister, Shannon, seems to be the only one that feels Tara’s energy. Her mother, step-father and most of the hospital staff have already written her off. If Tara can’t let them know she’s still with them, they will pull the plug. That’s if the killer doesn’t get to her first.

    WOW. This one grabbed me from the first page, and I just hung on. Didn’t want to put it down, not for nothing! There was so much suspense, and edge-of-the seat moments, that you just had to take a breath every now and then.

    The plot and twists were really good, and the characters had enough background that they felt real. The relationship between the sisters was really good, and so was dynamics between Abby and Dax. They “got” each other.

    This was an action-packed book, and although I am not into spy or mafia novels, it did have that sort of feel. It didn’t bother me a bit. There was so much suspense, and edge-of-the seat moments, that you just had to take a breath every now and then.

    Highly recommend this book!

    For a more complete review of this book and others, please visit my blog:

  • Susanne  Strong

    A Visiting Professor, murdered. College Student, Tara Beckley, now in a Coma.

    An Insurance Investigator is positive that the Police have it all wrong. A Hit Man covering up the tracks. Is anyone safe?

    As Abby Kaplan, the Insurance Investigator discovers, the answer to that question is no. Lucky for her, she has agility, speed and intelligence on her side. The Hit Man Dax, however, never loses. Ever.

    A Visiting Professor, murdered. College Student, Tara Beckley, now in a Coma.

    An Insurance Investigator is positive that the Police have it all wrong. A Hit Man covering up the tracks. Is anyone safe?

    As Abby Kaplan, the Insurance Investigator discovers, the answer to that question is no. Lucky for her, she has agility, speed and intelligence on her side. The Hit Man Dax, however, never loses. Ever.

    Thank you to NetGalley, Little Brown and Company and Michael Koryta for an arc of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

    Published on Goodreads, NetGalley and Amazon on 5.27.19.

  • Patrice Hoffman

    Michael Koryta has grown to be one of my favorite suspense writers over the last few years. His novels are intricately woven with thrilling characters, plowing through a plot that just won't let go.

    does not disappoint.

    Tara Beckley is given the responsibility of welcoming a professor who's scheduled to give a speech at her college in Maine. One moment she's wondering why the professor is behaving so strangely, and the next, she's a prisoner in her own body. A fatal crash leaves her

    Michael Koryta has grown to be one of my favorite suspense writers over the last few years. His novels are intricately woven with thrilling characters, plowing through a plot that just won't let go.

    does not disappoint.

    Tara Beckley is given the responsibility of welcoming a professor who's scheduled to give a speech at her college in Maine. One moment she's wondering why the professor is behaving so strangely, and the next, she's a prisoner in her own body. A fatal crash leaves her with "locked-in-syndrome".

    Completely aware of her surroundings and the people around her, Tara fights to be heard. Yet, there are many who hope to silence her forever. Koryta introduces us to a world where no one is to be trusted and that the only person holding the key to survival is locked in.

    presents readers with a host of characters most would not want to encounter for their whole lives. And what everyone is after is the professor's phone that may have extremely valuable information that is worth killing over.

    I would like to say I had at least one gripe with this novel, but all the characters are so clever (and cleverly drawn), and the mysteries behind their motivations are equally captivating, that I don't have anything bad to say at all. Koryta delivers twist after twist with the skill of a professional driver hitting the pavement in a car that goes 0-60 in less than 5 seconds.

    is a thrilling ride with a master in the thriller/suspense genre. Michael Koryta is at the top of his game with this one. I might be a tad bit bias since I am a fan, but I only hope to wake-up those who haven't had the pleasure of reading his books.

  • Jon Recluse

    A tragic auto accident in a Maine college town has left a visiting professor dead, and his senior escort, Tara Beckley with locked in syndrome.....fully conscious, but unable to move.

    And in extreme danger.

    An accident that may not have been accidental, yet didn't go the way it should have.

    Someone is out to clean up the mess....and the bodies begin to drop....

    Koryta's latest is an engaging thriller that takes Murphy's Law for a breakneck ride, which the author masterfully keeps right at the edge o

    A tragic auto accident in a Maine college town has left a visiting professor dead, and his senior escort, Tara Beckley with locked in syndrome.....fully conscious, but unable to move.

    And in extreme danger.

    An accident that may not have been accidental, yet didn't go the way it should have.

    Someone is out to clean up the mess....and the bodies begin to drop....

    Koryta's latest is an engaging thriller that takes Murphy's Law for a breakneck ride, which the author masterfully keeps right at the edge of losing control, leaving the reader with their fingers embedded in the dashboard.

    Highly recommended.

    This was an eARC from NetGalley.

  • Holly  B

    The tension builds as they travel along and you just know something is just

     Wild ride ahead...

    Things go horribly wrong, some bad dudes are on the hunt for information and it turns into an action-packed, dodging bullets and run for your life ride. The beginning pieces of the puzzle start to emerge as the events

    The tension builds as they travel along and you just know something is just

     Wild ride ahead...

    Things go horribly wrong, some bad dudes are on the hunt for information and it turns into an action-packed, dodging bullets and run for your life ride. The beginning pieces of the puzzle start to emerge as the events unfold at a fast pace.

    A few chapters felt a bit slow when the doctor is working with the coma patient, but the process was interesting. Also really enjoyed the character of Shannon and her love for her sister, Tara.

    Recommend to fans of suspense with high action, a layered mystery with a kind of mafia feel and a strong female protagonist. 

    Thanks to NG and Little, Brown and Company for a review copy. Out May 14,2019

  • Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)

    Tara is tasked with one thing - get a VIP to his destination by a certain time. So why did that VIP die and she in a coma? Clearly something is afoot. The crappy thing about being in a coma, besides the obvious.... being trapped inside (locked-in syndrome) while your memories start to come back but no way to communicate or let anyone around her know she's actually in there. HELLOOOOO!

    Dax - young, scary and eerily calm... didn't quite fulfill the job he was assigned and now he has to clean up the

    Tara is tasked with one thing - get a VIP to his destination by a certain time. So why did that VIP die and she in a coma? Clearly something is afoot. The crappy thing about being in a coma, besides the obvious.... being trapped inside (locked-in syndrome) while your memories start to come back but no way to communicate or let anyone around her know she's actually in there. HELLOOOOO!

    Dax - young, scary and eerily calm... didn't quite fulfill the job he was assigned and now he has to clean up the mess others think he created and that he just shrugs off. It's in his blood. He's devious, smart, quick and undeterred. I fear for anyone who comes across him or gets in his way.

    This is my first Koryta and I've heard nothing but amazing things about his books. Honestly, I'm surprised I haven't picked up one of his novels before but there's no time like the present, right? I can tell you that I absolutely love his writing style. Very easy to read, you get engaged with each character and the dialogue was honestly my favorite part. I don't know how this would compare to his previous work but I guarantee I'll pick up more by Koryta moving forward. I did feel this particular story could've been shorted just a teeny bit - especially as the ending felt slightly rushed. I also didn't understand why that very last chapter was necessary. I feel like maybe I missed something somewhere?

    Here's something that I adored about this book - very strong women characters.. and Dax. **wink** The banter between Dax and Abby, and Tara's sister, Shannon, with everyone was really fun to read. I love snarky, smart women. The locked-in syndrome gave me SOMETIMES I LIE by Alice Feeney vibes. I don't know what it is about this that I just find so fascinating. Maybe it's from watching SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW eons ago and thinking that would be one of the worst things to happen to someone. Who knows?!

    Those who like thrillers that have that mob mentality / trapped in your body vibe, then this is absolutely the read for you.

    Thank you Little Brown for this copy.

  • Chelsea Humphrey

    This wasn't a bad book, but I'm starting to feel that I'm just not 100% compatible with Michael Koryta's new books. This is a shame, because I'm an avid cheerleader of all his older works, and perhaps this makes me biased, but it's tough to engage with your standard mob thriller when you know an author can offer so much more than your run-of-the-mill gangster plot. This also felt a smidge too long, and if it had been shaved down a little to provide a snappy, faster paced reading experience, I ma

    This wasn't a bad book, but I'm starting to feel that I'm just not 100% compatible with Michael Koryta's new books. This is a shame, because I'm an avid cheerleader of all his older works, and perhaps this makes me biased, but it's tough to engage with your standard mob thriller when you know an author can offer so much more than your run-of-the-mill gangster plot. This also felt a smidge too long, and if it had been shaved down a little to provide a snappy, faster paced reading experience, I may have given an extra .5 star to bump my rating. If you've enjoyed the author's books in the past, and are looking for your typical thrilling read, I still recommend giving this one a try.

  • Sandy

    3.5 stars

    I was a big fan of this author’s Lincoln Perry series but it’s been a while so I was happy to get my hands on his latest stand alone. For me this was very much a book of 2 halves. I see you squinting at me so I’ll try to explain but first, the 411.

    “Nineteen minutes before her brain and body parted ways, Tara Beckley’s concern was the cold.”

    Got your attention? That’s the opening line & you may wonder if it might be a good idea not to get too attached to poor Tara. No worries. After a

    3.5 stars

    I was a big fan of this author’s Lincoln Perry series but it’s been a while so I was happy to get my hands on his latest stand alone. For me this was very much a book of 2 halves. I see you squinting at me so I’ll try to explain but first, the 411.

    “Nineteen minutes before her brain and body parted ways, Tara Beckley’s concern was the cold.”

    Got your attention? That’s the opening line & you may wonder if it might be a good idea not to get too attached to poor Tara. No worries. After a car crash, she’s still alive albeit trapped in her own body with locked in syndrome. Her passenger, a professor she was driving to a conference, didn’t fare as well.

    Meanwhile a woman named Lisa Boone is wondering what happened to her latest client. She’s in the Detroit airport waiting for a professor who had one more lecture to give before she whisks him away. All she can do is ponder his last text: ASK THE GIRL.

    As Tara lies in a coma, family gathers at her bedside to consider the options. It’s probably a good thing they don’t know she’s listening as they discuss when to turn off the machines & let her go. Luckily she has someone in her corner. Her sister Shannon has always had her back & refuses to believe Tara is already gone.

    Then we meet Abby Kaplan, a claims investigator hired by Tara’s college to look into the accident. They sponsored the conference & want to nail down any potential legal liability stemming from the professor’s death. Fatal accidents are something Abby knows a bit about. She recently returned to Maine after surviving a crash that killed her boyfriend. It’s obvious Abby is still traumatized but she needs this job. So maybe she’ll have a couple of drinks before tackling the crime scene.

    There’s a lot of history & more characters to introduce before the story can really take off. This is what I meant in the intro. The first half sets up various sub plots & establishes the cast but you soon realize Tara & Abby will be the main narrators. I enjoyed Tara’s side. Making one of your MC’s a person who never leaves her bed is an interesting choice. I fared less well with Abby. First, I have a thing about drinking & driving. That’s just a personal tic. But it was mostly the frequent references to the accident in California that sent her running back to Maine.

    Her boyfriend was a well known actor so in addition to her personal grief, Abby had to deal with being excoriated in the press. It’s a horrific experience that would leave anyone reeling & we better understand her behaviour after the initial reveal. However, she (and the reader) delves into it over & over again including long passages of conversations she had with her boyfriend. Not only does it slow the pace & yank you out of the present, it doesn’t add anything to the story. We already know she’s suffering & I confess I found myself skimming these sections to get back to the current situation which was much more compelling.

    Thankfully, this happens less often in the second half. The plot is intricate & things really get interesting when we spend time with a creepy young killer hell bent on making sure no one digs into the circumstances around Tara’s accident. It becomes a fast paced read with several nice twists that keep you turning the pages.

    So with 3 stars for the first half & 4 for the second, I’ll split the difference.

  • Brandon

    Tara Beckley is escorting a professor to speak at her university when tragedy strikes. A runaway van collides with Tara’s CR-V instantly killing the professor and sending Tara careening into a nearby river. A short time later, Tara awakens to discover she is fully conscious and aware but unable to communicate with the outside world – a victim of “locked-in syndrome”.

    Private Investigator Abby Kaplan has been hired by the university to look into the accident and remove any shred of liability on th

    Tara Beckley is escorting a professor to speak at her university when tragedy strikes. A runaway van collides with Tara’s CR-V instantly killing the professor and sending Tara careening into a nearby river. A short time later, Tara awakens to discover she is fully conscious and aware but unable to communicate with the outside world – a victim of “locked-in syndrome”.

    Private Investigator Abby Kaplan has been hired by the university to look into the accident and remove any shred of liability on their behalf. As she digs deeper, she begins to uncover that this was no simple accident, but rather an execution. Can Abby put together the pieces before those that eliminated the professor return to finish the job with Tara?

    If She Wakes reads like a script for a Liam Neeson or Keanu Reeves action thriller, although I’m not sure if either of them would have a role to play. It reminds me of the type of movie I would have rented on a Friday night in my early twenties when I was obsessed with low-budget action flicks.

    The novel’s principal protagonist is an Irish mobster who came of age as a member of the IRA during the 1980s. His dispatched hitman, Dax Blackwell, is a great villain and the perfect adversary for Abby – a former Hollywood stunt driver. I felt the scenes they shared were the best parts of the novel as the duo played cat and mouse.

    As for the plot, I found things got a bit too silly and a little too unbelievable. I wasn’t big on the twist in the novel’s finale and I didn’t much care for the character of Lisa Boone, a government agent racing against Dax to retrieve the professor’s lost phone, as I felt she added yet another layer to an already convoluted plot.

    I will say there are two things I didn’t like outside of the actual content of the book. I really do not like the book’s title and I very much dislike the cover. If I didn’t have prior experience with Michael Koryta (his novel The Prophet is exceptional), I wouldn’t even pick this one off the shelf. Maybe it’s the plethora of “The Girl with/that/who” titles that are just clogging up the shelves nowadays coupled with the fact that Tara is basically awake the entire time. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but sometimes you can’t help it.

    All negative criticism aside, If She Wakes is surface-level storytelling that hits the highway and speeds to its destination, despite that it is on a road that is littered with potholes.

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