Alex’s Book Cave: ‘Verity’

Verity released Dec. 7, 2018.

Photo by Lily Werner

“Verity” released Dec. 7, 2018.

When famous author Verity Crawford suffers an accident leaving her in a vegetative state, struggling writer Lowen is picked by Verity’s publishing company to finish the rest of her seven book series. Lowen is baffled, having only written freelance articles.

While Lowen pushes back on the idea of her ghostwriting Verity’s novels, she eventually relents after she sees the millions she’s set to make from it. Lowen moves from bustling New York City to the remote, grandiose Crawford house in upstate New York.

While doing research in Verity’s home office, Lowen discovers an autobiography Verity never wanted published. It chronicles her life from her first meeting with Jeremy, their kids and to the reason for her “accident.” The lines between real and fake become tangled in a deadly web.

Things get more complicated when Lowen swears she can see the brain-dead Verity moving. This psychological thriller switches between Lowen’s perspective and Verity’s autobiography and will leave the reader wondering: Who is Verity?

Rating and Review (Spoiler Warning):

In October 2021, I went home for one last hurrah at my cottage in central Wisconsin. In my mom’s minivan, I saw she had a copy of “Verity” from one of her coworkers. From 4 p.m. that day until 2 a.m. (with a break for supper and a campfire) I devoured this book. It’s one of those novels that just sucks you in in the worst way. 

Where “Project Hail Mary” was full of banter, humor and optimism, “Verity” was the complete opposite. Filled with nothing but gut wrenching horror on every page, this is a book leaving you wanting to have a light on. It’s not a paranormal book, all the monsters in this book are human. This book shows the utter depths of the human psyche, where this no good, only evil.

For me, none of the characters were as likable as Andy Weir’s Ryland Grace. Verity’s husband Jeremy has love for her and the life they lost, and while admirable, to me he didn’t really have time to shine or develop. All of Lowen’s assumptions are based on Verity’s autobiography. I get it, the book is about Verity and Lowen’s pursuit of the truth, but Jeremy is integral to that truth, and his story is just as valuable as Verity’s. 

Lowen, while not relatable, offers a glimpse into what any of us would do in that same situation — snoop and procrastinate. I’m not one to defend her actions, I’d do the exact same thing, but maybe with a little more gusto. She is in a remote mansion in upstate New York living with a semi-dead woman and her husband whom she doesn’t know anything about. 

I must give credit to the author Colleen Hoover. I’ve read some of Hoover’s other work but this book is a first for her. “Verity” is her most exciting work yet, as she pushes her creative boundary beyond what she normally publishes. She primarily writes adult romance fiction, and while “Verity” could be placed in this genre, I would put it in a psychological thriller category. 

I’m usually not a huge fan when authors switch between perspectives or time periods, but Hoover does an amazing job balancing Lowen’s perspective and Verity’s autobiography. The two compliment each other very well.

The ending was something else to put it mildly. Lowen finds a letter Verity wrote, recanting everything in her autobiography. Verity claims it was a writing exercise for the next installment in her series. I don’t buy it; Verity writes with such hatred and evilness that it just makes my stomach turn. Quotes like “I’m here to discuss the first thing my baby stole from me: Jeremy,” or “miscarriages are just as easy to fake as pregnancies” demonstrate this.

While not a light-read by any means, “Verity” is sure to strike you at your very core, going beyond just a traditional murder mystery novel. If you have a day to kill, I highly recommend this book. Set the ambiance and read during a thunderstorm when you’re home alone (or in a remote cottage in central Wisconsin where paved roads are a luxury), to really feel the soul and the terror of this wonderful novel. 

I give “Verity” by Colleen Hoover five out of five stars. 

This story was written by Alex Wagner. He can be reached at alex.wagner@marquette.edu.