Review: The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

Review: The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian
The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

Published by Doubleday Books on March 13, 2018
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library

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Cassandra Bowden is no stranger to hungover mornings. She's a binge drinker, her job with the airline making it easy to find adventure, and the occasional blackouts seem to be inevitable. She lives with them, and the accompanying self-loathing.

When she awakes in a Dubai hotel room, she tries to piece the previous night back together, already counting the minutes until she has to catch her crew shuttle to the airport. She quietly slides out of bed, careful not to aggravate her already pounding head, and looks at the man she spent the night with. She sees his dark hair. His utter stillness. And blood, a slick, still wet pool on the crisp white sheets.

Afraid to call the police--she's a single woman alone in a hotel room far from home--Cassie begins to lie. She lies as she joins the other flight attendants and pilots in the van. She lies on the way to Paris as she works the first class cabin. She lies to the FBI agents in New York who meet her at the gate. Soon it's too late to come clean--or face the truth about what really happened back in Dubai. Could she have killed him? If not, who did?

I’ll just get right to the point: The Flight Attendant did not work for me. The story started out fine, but lost steam somewhere around the halfway mark. But the ending—I truly hated that the most and it made me rage a little bit.

Cassie Bowden is a flight attendant who, in her words, men like because she drinks too much and is easy. Basically, she’s a functional alcoholic by day and a blackout drunk by night.

Cassie has lots of casual sex, so it’s typical behavior for her when she connects with a passenger from her flight to Dubai and they hook up after landing. The next morning, Cassie wakes up hungover as usual. Only this time, something is horribly wrong: Alex, the man she spent the night with, is lying dead in a pool of blood next to her.

In a panic, Cassie flees the scene and subsequently attempts to cover up her involvement with Alex. As the murder investigation closes in on her, Cassie is convinced she isn’t a murderer…or is she?

Well, that’s an accurate description of the first part of the book. The plot then takes a sharp turn that I hadn’t expected and wound up not buying. No spoilers, but I think the story became needlessly complex and definitely diverted considerably from the direction that the blurb leads you into.

Also—again, avoiding spoilers—but I hated the way that the story was eventually resolved. Cassie’s fundamental struggles and addictions are overcome somewhat magically, in my view, and I really disliked how a certain plot device was used to heal and cure her.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly: it was painfully obvious to me that Cassie is a female character written by a man. I found the author’s portrayal of her condescending and completely off the mark when it comes to the nuances and complexities of the female brain.

Ultimately, I went into this book thinking it would be something entirely different and was not happy with what I found. It just didn’t work for me and I would not recommend it.

Rating: 1 star


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