book review of 56 days on Catherine Ryan Howard

56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard Book Review

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You’ve just met the man you think could be “the one” and then the world shuts down due do COVID-19. He’s offered for you to move in with him. But you’ve only been on one date, what do you decide to do?

Photo of audiobook of 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard.

TW: Child death/murder, violence, blood, bullying, toxic relationship, and suicide was mentioned.


Ciara and Oliver move in together without telling anyone. Now one of them is dead.

56 Days ago, Ciara and Oliver meet for the first time in a supermarket line. Right as COVID-19 reaches Ireland and the world is forced to shut down.

35 Days ago as lockdown looms over Ciara and Oliver, Oliver suggests they move in together. Ciara sees this as a unique opportunity for the new relationship to continue developing, without the pressure and nitpicking of family and friends. Oliver sees an opportunity to hide who he truly is.

Today, detectives arrive at Oliver’s apartment to begin solving the mystery involving a decomposing body. The detectives will have to decide if they can uncover the truth or if they have stumbled upon the first person to use lockdown as the perfect opportunity to commit murder.

Thoughts on the Plot

This is one of the first books I’ve read that uses the COVID-19 pandemic as a plot. At times, jumping between the past and present was a bit disorienting. Primarily because I listened to the audiobook version and sometimes let my mind wander.

It is also worth noting that 56 Days is told in multiple timelines.

Regardless, I found the plot to be entirely entertaining. Oliver and Ciara both have a secret, despite the spotlight shining heavily on Oliver.

The secrets between Oliver and Ciara do well to move the plot forward.

COVID-19 being used as a plot sometimes felt a bit odd. There were many moments that took me right back to the early days of sheltering in place.

There were also moments of romance that did not take away from the thriller aspect of the book.

There were spots where the story felt repetitive. That may be another fault of the multiple timelines the story is told in. Despite that, this book was full of twists that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Thoughts on the Characters

Despite it being clear that Oliver is hiding something, so is Ciara. Both characters are fairly likable. It was hard to tell whether or not Oliver was the villian until the big reveal at the end of the book.

Oliver comes across as troubled but wants to have a “normal” life. Despite constantly running from his past. Ciara on the other hand, constantly second-guesses her choices. While a bit repetitive, makes sense. Wouldn’t you want to make sure you knew all about who you were sheltering in place with?

There are also some small, sweet moments of romance between Ciara and Oliver. These moments are nice and make you want to root for them, without overpowering the thriller elements.

Although if you’re looking for lots of spice, keep moving.

The detectives are fairly interesting as well. DI Leah Riordan is all about work and somehow still down to earth. DS Karl Connolly is incredibly cliche. Constantly cracking inappropriate jokes.

However, all of the characters were likable (for the most part) and mutable to read about in their own respects.

Final Thoughts

I really disliked the multiple timelines. At times it was confusing and repetitive.

That is my main complaint, however. The ending felt a little lackluster, but considering the circumstances made sense.

I recommend this book if you’re open to reading a thriller that utilizes COVID-19 as a plot line. At first, I worried it would come off as tasteless. Instead, it gives the book a bit more of a realistic feel.

I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

If you have read the book, what did you think?

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