Book Review: In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

Friday, January 22, 2021


In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

Adult Fiction // Categories: Contemporary, Women's Fiction
Release Date: March 10, 2020
Publisher: Atria Books (Simon & Schuster)
Format: Audiobook • 6 hours 45 minutes
Rating: 3.5 stars

I picked up In Five Years because, at the time, I assumed it would be long-listed on the 2020 Goodreads Choice Awards. (I can now confirm that, yes, it was a contender. But we'll ignore the fact that it was nominated under the "Best Romance" category ... please read on to find out why I question this judgment.) It had more than 80,000 ratings, so I was curious! I decided to skip reading the synopsis, since it's a short book, and I assumed it would be a romance novel. (THAT WAS MY BAD.)

In Five Years follows a woman named Dannie who is living the seemingly perfect life—she just nailed an interview for her dream job and ended the day with a marriage proposal from the man of the dreams. But after falling asleep that night, she wakes up in an apartment that is definitely not hers, and next to a man she doesn't recognize. The news is on TV, and she finds out it is now five years later.

I am going to stop the synopsis here, because I think there is enough intrigue for you to decide if it's interesting enough for you to pick up or skip. Instead, let me talk around it and tell you some things I wish I was aware of before reading:

  1. In terms of genre, In Five Years leans more toward women's fiction than romance.
  2. It's not a time-travel novel. Dannie doesn't spend any more time in the "future" outside of that one night.

By describing this book as "women's fiction," I just mean it's a fictional story, written by a woman, about women and issues that women go through. I'm not saying that men cannot read this book—it's just a very general term I'm using to contrast the romance genre, which is more focused on how a romantic relationship develops. In women's fiction, there is generally a bigger focus on other things outside of romance (but that's not to say there is no romance in women's fiction.) ANYWAY, this is not a discussion on women's fiction vs. romance lol.

I guess you can see the difficulties in distinguishing between the two genres, which is something that affected my enjoyment of this book. Even after listening to the first 10%, I was thinking, "ooh, it's going to be a love story where Dannie will have to decide if she's really happy staying with her fiancé because of the dream she had!" And it is, to a certain extent, but it's not the focus.

I've been really conflicted because how I feel and how I should feel doesn't match up. It's an emotional story, which means everything in my heart is supposed to be wrung out. But I kinda felt ... cheated? Like I wasn't introduced properly to what the story would be, even after getting past the first third. It's like I made a plan to visit the beach and I ended up at a ski resort. Both are places I love, but I didn't prepare to go snowboarding! I think it just seems like In Five Years was two different stories combined together to make one, and it negatively affected my experience and appreciation. I liked how everything came together, but I would've loved this book so much more if it built up the theme of friendship from the beginning.

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If you want to know more, there's a spoiler section in my Goodreads review!

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