Title: No Tomorrow
Series: Villanelle # 2 alt. Killing Eve # 2 (The series was initially titled “Villanelle,” but since the success of the BBC adaptation I’m seeing retailers refer to it as “Killing Eve” more and more. You can find editions listed under both names on Goodreads.)
Author: Luke Jennings
Book or Audiobook: Audiobook
This review is about the “Killing Eve” books, not the BBC adaptation. I’ve also written a “Book to TV Adaptation” post where I compare how the books and tv-series tie together, you can find it HERE.
In a hotel room in Venice, where she’s just completed a routine assassination, Villanelle receives a late-night call.
Eve Polastri has discovered that a senior MI5 officer is in the pay of the Twelve, and is about to debrief him. As Eve interrogates her subject, desperately trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle together, Villanelle moves in for the kill.
The duel between the two women intensifies, as does their mutual obsession, and when the action moves from the high passes of the Tyrol to the heart of Russia, Eve finally begins to unwrap the enigma of her adversary’s true identity.
No Tomorrow is the second book in an ongoing series about the assassin Villanelle and the MI6 agent chasing her, Eve. The author has revealed plans for more books in the series. With the way this book ends, all I can say is, there better damn well be more books!
I’ve spoken briefly in previous post about the first book in this series, Codename Villanelle, but I’ve not done a proper review. The first book is really four novellas: Codename Villanelle, Villanelle: Hollowpoint, Villanelle: Shanghai, and Villanelle: Odessa. If you’ve not read them, you need to do that before picking up this book. Also, havings seen the firsts season of the tv-series Killing Eve is not enough; you need too read the first book to understand what is happening in this one.
From this point on there will be spoilers for Codename Villanelle and the first season of the BBC adaptation, Killing Eve.
The story kicks off right after the events in Villanelle: Odessa, where Eve and her new team—hastily assembled after the assassin murdered her partner Simons in Shanghai—have discovered that a fellow agent is working for the secret organization known as the Twelve.
Because of the murder of her partner, the chase once fueled by curiosity and fascination has become intensely personal for Eve who’s becoming more and more obsessive, to the point that it’s putting a severe strain on her marriage. She is determined to find Villanelle, whatever it takes.
Of course, Eve doesn’t know much about the assassin yet. Not even what the mysterious V stands for. As readers, we already know much of Villanelles backstory, and we learn even more in this book. Eve doesn’t, much of this book centers around her finding clues and beginning to form a picture of the woman she’s chasing.
Meanwhile, Villanelle is facing changes in the organization that she works for, making her feel underutilized and her missions lacking the challenge she needs. This feeling fuels her ever-growing obsession and infatuation with the woman chasing her. Eve might be the one doing the chasing but as far as Villanelle is concerned, Eve is the prey.
Like the first book, the story is told from both Eve and Villanelle’s perspective.
One thing I really enjoy about the writing is that, because of the very different personalities and lives these two women lead, it never feels repetitive. For example, a part of the book takes place in Venice, you have chapters from Villanelle’s POV, and then you have Eve retracing her steps, but nothing feels familiar.
These women are written so intimately that I genuinely feel like I’m seeing and experiencing Venice though their own eyes. On the one hand, you have globetrotter Villanelle, someone who not only appreciates and surrounds herself with luxury but feels she deserves it. She moves though the ancient city like she owns it. Then there’s Eve, up until this point a desk jockey; unappreciated, frumpy, unaccustomed to glamor and culture. Though her eyes, Venice is a wonder. The luxury is overpowering as she moves around the city in awe.
The differences in how the world is portrayed through these women as eyes are subtle but very effective.
However, when their paths diverge, this is Eve’s book. Not because Villanelles chapters are uninteresting, she’s a fascinating and entertaining character. She certainly gets involved in exciting scenarios, one being a cozy nazi—sorry, “alt-right”— get together in a secluded alpine hotel. But, as a person, she’s complete. At least from her perspective. She’s content and confident with who she is. There are things she’s starting to question, but they all stem from things going on outside of her, not inside.
As far as character development goes, this is Eve’s story. I’ll leave it to your personal interpretation to decide if the changes she’s going though is for the better or worse. What you get is a fairly standard character arch for detective/police characters; a growing obsession with the chase taking its toll on a marriage. There are forgotten dinner parties, canceled birthdays, empty apologies, and broken promises.
Only, this time, the one apologizing is a woman and the one expected to forgive, a man. That adds an extra layer of complexity, and again, I think it will be a question of personal interpretation if you see her actions as justified or not. If it’s female empowerment, or if she’s throwing around accusations of sexism as a way to justify her actions and spiraling behavior. Personally, I lean more toward the latter.
What’s so great about the subplot about Eve’s marriage is that it doesn’t moralize. It doesn’t tell you if she’s a good or bad person. If her choices are right or wrong. It shows a complex individual who’s becoming increasingly obsessed with the woman she’s chasing. In the process, she’s being pulled into the world Villanelle inhabits which opens up hidden longings and a repressed dissatisfaction with her own life.
I absolutely adore the portrayal of these two women. I love it because they’re written as individuals, not female characters. They’re allowed to be weak and strong, beautiful and unattractive. They can be kind, witty, shallow, selfish, and deceiving. They’re allowed a full, complex range of emotion and character traits. Well, Eve is. Villanelle is a psychopath, complex emotions aren’t really her thing. Both of them make questionable choices and perform dubious actions that female characters seldom get to do without the story being preachy or out to teach a lesson. This story doesn’t judge them. You might, but the author doesn’t. It’s extremely refreshing.
Apart from the two leads, the secondary characters are also well-written and fit the story, but honestly, they’re background noise. In a good way! They serve their purpose. They add flavor and texture, they give the two main characters other people to act towards and react to. But, this is Eve and Villanelle’s story.
Finally, I have to mention the ending. Without spoiling anything, it’s safe to say that this book ends with one hell of a plot twist! A twist that makes me so excited for coming books and changes everything.
EDITIONS & NARRATION
This book is narrated by Lucy Paterson. I enjoyed her interpretation of the characters, you can tell she’s an experienced audiobook narrator. Overall, it was a pleasant listening experience with an unobtrusive narration that let the book speak for itself.
Unfortunately, that can’t be said for the layout of the book. I realize this is a question of personal preference, but a pet peeve of mine is when the cover art is based on the movie/tv-series/videogame adaptation instead of the novel itself. I hate it. With a passion.
I really think this book deserves a cover art that shows how unique and beautiful it is. With its current layout, it feels like a tacky advertisement for the adaptation. That’s extremely unfortunate.
Am I the only one bothered by this, how do you feel about cover art based on adaptations rather than the book?
I liked No Tomorrow more than I did the firsts short-story collection. I enjoyed that one as well obviously, or I wouldn’t have read this one. But, this book felt more personal. Part of that can be explained by the fact that much of the groundwork in terms of worldbuilding, backstory and character presentation was handled in the first book, so there was room to dive deeper into the characters in this one. But, that’s only part of the explanation.
The characterization, especially of Eve, feels intimate in this book. Watching her being pulled into Villanelles world, becoming enchanted and intoxicated by it without even having met her is thrilling. It feels almost… naughty. You sense the impending catastrophe, see how her obsession with Villanelle is a disaster waiting to happen. But you want it. You want to know what will happen if Eve lets go of her frumpy, safe life and give in. You want Villanelle to catch her.
I had a great time with this book. It’s not a big book, but it leaves an impression. The twist at the end was absolutely fantastic, and I can’t wait for the next installment.
My Rating: 9/10
How I rate:
1 = My god, how did this shit get published?!
2 = No, really, how?
3 = Meh, I didn’t have anything better to do, so I finished it.
4 = It was decent.
5 = It wasn’t a memorable read, but I probably enjoyed it.
6 = I had a good time, I’ll check out the author.
7 = This was great; this book has earned the right to live in my bookcase.
8 = I’m going to read every single book this author has ever written.
9 = This was fantastic. Point the way to the collector’s edition/ companion/merchandise!
10 = I will eject a shrine and read this book over and over until the day I die.
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