Title: One by One
Author: Ruth Ware
Publication Date: September 8, 2020
Age Range: Adult
Source: Gifted by Audris 🥰
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The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Turn of the Key and In a Dark Dark Wood returns with another suspenseful thriller set on a snow-covered mountain.
Getting snowed in at a beautiful, rustic mountain chalet doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world, especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a cozy fire, and company to keep you warm. But what happens when that company is eight of your coworkers…and you can’t trust any of them?
When an off-site company retreat meant to promote mindfulness and collaboration goes utterly wrong when an avalanche hits, the corporate food chain becomes irrelevant and survival trumps togetherness. Come Monday morning, how many members short will the team be?
TW/CW: murder, gore, sexual harassment, attempted sexual assault
Ruth Ware is slowly becoming a new all-time favorite thriller author and her newest book is no exception. This review will contain spoilers (clearly marked section) as many of the things contributing to my rating are massive spoilers.
—>spoiler free thoughts<—
This book follows a group of coworkers who get snowed while skiing in the Alps. The ski trip is a team-building trip, though some of the coworkers appear to have a secondary motive.
Ruth Ware’s strength in her recent books has been the atmosphere and that is definitely still true with this book. While it does take on a significantly different tone than her other books, leaning more into suspense than thriller, it really works.
Oh and Ware reminds me just how terrifying snow can be.
Yeah, I think that’s all I can say without accidentally giving anything away! Onto the spoiler corner, and yes, there will be MAJOR spoilers in this section.
Okay, so I feel like this isn’t the biggest spoiler, but this book is a combination of the closed-circle trope and a straight-up survival story.
I’m pretty neutral on the closed circle trope. I find myself liking it more if the “closed” part of the closed circle is done well and if the killer is revealed well. I think One by One closed off the characters in such a realistic way. It’s established at the beginning of the book that the characters will be staying at a chateau that is higher up on the mountain, which can only be accessed with a ski lift or helicopter. The group is closed off after an avalanche, creating a technology-free setting with pretty high stakes.
That goes right into the second part of the story, which is the suspenseful survival story. So about halfway through the books, the group doesn’t have any cell service, doesn’t have heat, and is running out of food. Authorities haven’t arrived to help them, despite them thinking they got a message out and we’ve already had two confirmed murders. The group decides to split, sending the experienced skiers to ski down the hill, despite poor conditions, to try to get help from the village, and the less-experienced skiers to snowshoe about 3 miles to a nearby chateau to see if they have a two-way radio so they can call for help.
Two of the characters are left behind due to injuries, Erin (an employee at the ski resort), and Liz (one of the shareholders in the company). Erin has sprained, possibly broken her ankle after getting caught in the avalanche. Liz slipped down the stairs and banged up her knee. By this point, I had already circled through who I thought the killer was a few times and tried to guess motives. Once the group split, my thoughts were pretty much confirmed.
Fortunately, Ware also reveals the killer shortly after the two characters are alone. After the reveal though, this book becomes a straight-up survival story. The killer figures out the other person has guessed they were the killer, so now they need to tie up loose ends.
This standoff between the two becomes so tense, as both characters know the other one knows, and both characters are super smart. There were a few parts where I thought that a character was purposely making a dumb choice to further the plot, but when we get a perspective shift, we find out that there was more thought behind the decision.
We also get a pretty gruesome death scene that despite seeing coming was still horrifying to picture. Like, thank you aphantasia for keeping this picture from my brain.
This was not at all what I was expecting, but I really enjoyed going a long for the ride. I really enjoyed the suspense aspect of this one. I’ve lived in the Midwest for most of my life and I sometimes forget how terrifying the snow/cold can be. Unfortunately, I didn’t love the motives behind the murders and really wish that they were developed a bit more or were just different. That being said, I really enjoyed going along for the ride.