Obviously the most important place to start was what notebook to use for NaNo. Oh, and what story, of course.
This first week of NaNo has been a challenge. Thanks to my full time job, I couldn’t start writing until after I’d got home, which was generally around half 6ish. Then once I’d sat down and had food, and chilled for an hour or two, or done anything I needed to do before I could even think about sitting down to write, most of my evening was gone. I think for most nights this past week I didn’t sit down to write my 1,667 word stint until at least 9, often 10 o’clock. Which I know is a self imposed goal, but still – it was challenging.
Unsurprisingly, I was filled with self doubt the minute I put pen to paper. No matter what I came out with, I knew that when I read back over all of the stuff I’ve written, it would become very obvious that I had been trying to hit a word count. Some parts feel very over descriptive, as they’re parts I hadn’t thought about in too much detail so was basically thinking about it as I was writing it. Not ideal, but it’s a starting point. Even though I know when I come back to this novel in progress (Dream Weaver is my working title!), I’m going to be tearing my hair out screaming “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?” – I know that because it’s technically a sequel to my dissertation-turned-novel, this is actually helping me to flesh out that story world more, which is something I needed to do with that other first draft anyway (Gifted, for those of you who can’t remember the other times I’ve waffled on about it).
I was also petrified that I’ve not got enough words in me for this idea to reach the 50,000 word goal. Though thankfully this fear started to dissolve a little the more I realised that the plot points I thought I would have hit already within the first few thousand words, were barely being touched upon within the next two days’ worth of writing. So I think I’m safe for now. Phew.
Sitting down every night so late in the evening when I wanted nothing more than to curl up in my duvet has actually been really hard. Funnily enough, it was so much easier last time when I could get most of the writing done in the day and then once I’d hit my word count I knew I didn’t have to worry about it. But that’s just real life, I guess. Welcome to the real world and all that jazz. That if I want to achieve this goal again, I’m going to have to work for it. Somehow, I don’t think I’ll be finishing NaNo a week early like I did last year.
In fact on Saturday, I’d planned to try to tackle the ‘double your word count’ challenge. However, I’d had such a busy day driving to Swansea for a haircut, then up to Brecon and Talgarth with my Mum to look at a flat (which I will hopefully be renting soon, so will finally have my own place and can actually at least pretend I’ve got my life together this time), and then as soon as I got back home I was out again to meet a uni friend to see some fireworks… Once I’d actually got home afterwards, even though I had plenty of time in the evening to sit down and double the then 3/4,000 ish word count, it was the last bloody thing I wanted to do. So I gave myself the evening off.
I had to make up for it on Sunday, but I was glad I did it. NaNo isn’t something I’m punishing myself with to make sure I’ve got no free time whatsoever – it’s simply a goal I’ve set myself to make sure I am capable of sitting down and just writing. I looked back through my diary the other day, and had to suppress manic laughter when I saw some of my plans for the year I’d written down on the 1st January. Apparently over enthusiastic, ridiculously positive and naive past me, had aspired to have written at least two other draft novels by now. Ha ha ha, I hear you say! Yup, that’s right – this is the first proper time I’ve actually spent through out this whole year sat down writing for a decent amount of time each day.
Oh well. I’ve managed to stay on target so far, and even though I know that it’s complete drivel that I’m churning out IT’S STILL MEETING THE WORD COUNT, OKAY? Plus first drafts are meant to be shit, right? (In the wise words of Stephen King, at least). My current word count is at just over 14,000 words, so I’m hopefully going to meet the deadline this year too. Or at least I’d like to think so! I’m certainly feeling a lot more positive about reaching that goal than I did at the start of the month.
This was an okay novel. I started to regret picking it up when I first got to reading it, because the prose seemed a little bit childish compared to the YA fiction that I love, but I stuck with it. I really liked the concept – a girl who is too scared to tell boys she likes them, so she writes love letters to them as a goodbye. Only one day these letters get discovered and sent out to these individual boys. I really loved the sound of this plot line, but it took a while for any of that to even happen. I must have been about 100 pages in before anything actually exciting happened! I really wanted to like this novel, but it was a bit too slow in places.
When the plot actually did pick up, it did feel incredibly predictable. I guess if you pick up this kind of novel, you are picking it because you like the romance genre and you know what to expect… but it would be nice to find something that could give you what you wanted, and at least try to subvert the genre a little. You just knew what was going to happen, and that did dampen the reading experience for me because it just wasn’t as enjoyable.
The characters were interesting, and I liked how crazy Lara Jean was… Though a lot of detail put in here felt unnecessary. For example, detailing how she made cookies, or detailing how she designed a scrap book for her sister… It was all a little bit pointless in terms of the rest of the narrative. This didn’t develop our understanding of the characters, so was pointless information that didn’t need to be included. I did think that Han would just conveniently forget to tell us who sent Lara Jean’s letters, but thankfully we do find out just before the end of the book. This would have annoyed me more if we didn’t find out who was behind it, but Han tied it all up nicely in the end.
Overall, the novel did get better. Lara Jean’s intentions to protect her sister’s feelings were adorable, even if the lengths she went to to do this were a little extreme. It did feel like Jenny Han cut the narrative off in the middle of a section of plot, but the ending was perfect. It was an okay read, but I did enjoy it at points. I’d give it a 3/5, because it did get better, but there was so much more Han could have done to make the overall writing style of a better quality.
And so the madness starts again! I still can’t quite believe that I managed to complete NaNo last year, but I’m determined to give it my best shot this year too. Time is going to be a challenge though – despite the fact I did have a full time job last year, the job I was doing in a school as an LSA meant that actually I had a lot of free time in lessons to do writing. The girl I used to give support to only really needed me for emotional support, so when she did go to lessons it was either sit and twiddle my thumbs, or crack out the NaNo notebook. Though this year I’ve got a proper full time 9 – 5:30 job where I have to engage my brain for the whole time, so there’ll be no room for writing here. Which means I’m going to have to conquer what I have never been able to conquer in my entire life so far up until this point – time management skills.
I’ve already tried to do a timed exercise to see how much I can write in an hour, and I’m confident that if I can get my butt sat down in a chair and write for a good solid hour, I should be hitting just about the daily work count that I need to. Last time I was averaging 160 words per page, though (I’m blaming this on the spacing of the lines in this specific notebook) when I did my little time test, I only averaged around 147 words.
I was so tempted to buy a winner’s shirt for this year to wear when I’m writing, but I’m terrified that it would jinx me and I would do just as terribly as I’ve done in all the previous years I’ve attempted NaNo. Bar last year, of course. If I can crack that hour of solid writing each day, then I can stay on target to getting this done again!
For my idea, I’ve opted for a kind of sequel to my dissertation novel; set in the same story world, but a decade after the original novel’s events and about different characters. Hopefully I can stick with it and it will help me have a more solid understanding of what I need to edit with the first novel! I’m also very painfully aware that even though I won NaNo last year, I haven’t touched my novel since… There’s only half of it typed up because the thought of being chained to my computer and finishing off the job was a little off putting after I’d spent so much time writing.
Several of my friends are attempting it this year too – hopefully we can all have a positive outcome at the end of this month. Roll on NaNo 2017!
Dai Barham started off his day with the usual checking of the buildings. His footsteps echoed on the concrete as he wandered from building to building. Peeling paint crumbled from metal doors. Old locomotives used to transport the ammunitions in the glory days in and out of the armaments depot lay off to one side, rust eating away at their once proud bodies. Dai paused in front of one of the large sheds, sighing.
For a moment, he was transported back in time to the Second World War. People passing before his eyes and a train puffing down the valley filled his mind’s eye. His chest swelled with pride when he remembered how Hitler’s Luftwaffe had failed to locate them in the rural valley of Trecwn. He smiled sadly at the memories of what was once the largest ammunitions site in all of Europe falling into ruin.
He stared at the door in front of him, the flaking paint a stark reminder of all that had happened in the years since. Dai had been on his own since the official closure, and was employed to look after the site. Not for much longer if this viewing went well later – he just hoped it wouldn’t be like the last one. He still got angry about the thought of nuclear waste being dumped in the old tunnels lining the valley. Though he didn’t think a diesel peaking plant would go down well with the locals, either.
He wandered towards the old boiler house and noticed that the outdoor cabinet housing a fire extinguisher lay ajar. Frowning, he walked towards it and found the extinguisher was missing. Outraged, he spun around as if he would be able to find the perpetrators. Now facing the opposite side to the first building, he noticed that a side door had been kicked in, the open maw of the decrepit building welcoming him.
“Bloody kids!” He roared, stomping towards the ruined door. The lock had been smashed off the door, meaning he would have to board it shut. The empty building more visible to him because of the open door, the old warehouse was vast. He could picture the room filled with people at work; his throat constricted at the blatant disrespect that was now given to the old site.
He did a quick scout of the inside of the building to make sure no one was hiding inside before making his way to his maintenance shed to get supplies. He boarded up the old warehouse, hammering every nail with the utmost care. How could something that had once been so revered, be treated with such contempt?
Making a mental note to source a replacement fire extinguisher and padlock for the outdoor cabinet, Dai left the now sealed warehouse to inspect the other buildings. He found nothing else of note, so returned to the maintenance shed to drag out the ride-on lawnmower. He started out near the front of the property, looking out towards the village that had once been home to all his former colleagues. He’d made it through a third of the mowing when he heard it.
The wind whispered through the trees, carrying the sound of voices with it. If they hadn’t been shouting, he doubted he’d have heard them. He turned off the engine and sat listening until the voices came again.
“Damn kids… I’ll catch them now!” He jumped off the seat of the lawnmower and headed towards the woodland further up the hillside where the fence separated the former armaments depot from a farmer’s field. The voices were indistinct, but were definitely there somewhere. They seemed to be getting further away the more up the hill he went. He paused, unsure if they had managed to double back around him.
Just as he was about to turn back and head back towards the depot – thoughts of the now boarded up outbuilding flitting through his head – he saw someone out of the corner of his eye.
“Hey!” He ran after them, but they managed to disappear quickly. Cursing at himself, he stumbled through the foliage until he’d made it to the fence surrounding the site. Glancing around, there was no one in sight.
“I’ll catch you one day, you buggers!”
When he gained no response, he kicked out at an iron fence post. The metal rang – the only sound for miles around. There was a thump as a fence post slightly further down the fence fell to the ground. Grumbling, Dai stomped towards it. Reaching through the fence to grab the loose post, he paused. With the post missing, there was a large enough gap for someone to slip through.
Grinning, he pulled the heavy post back upwards, leaning it against the rest of the fence.
After jogging back to the maintenance shed half a mile away for supplies, half an hour later the fence post was once again in place.
“I’d like to see you get back in here now, you little shits!” He mumbled to himself.
Turning to walk back down to the depot he noticed a flash of red among the foliage a little bit from the fence. On closer inspection, he realised it was the missing fire extinguisher. When he picked it up he realised it was empty. He turned to glare at the field, as if it was still concealing the smirking vandals.
Dai slid the new padlock into place then stood back to admire his work. Nodding to himself, he set to work on finishing off the mowing from yesterday. He made it to the edge of the area with buildings without incident, the train tracks leading off to the 58 caverns that were dotted along the valley. He glanced wistfully in their direction, dreaming of days long gone.
A twig snapped. Dai’s head swivelled towards the sound, but there was nothing there. After yesterday’s escapade, he wasn’t going to let them get away so easily a second time. Especially if they’d found another way in through the fence.
Dai wandered towards the direction the sound had come from. He slowly walked among the trees that lined the whole valley, listening carefully in case they gave themselves away again. He had been walking along for about twenty minutes when the wind picked up. The cacophony of sound hit his ears as the wind slipped through the trees. The sound of dogs barking met him as the wind calmed down for a moment.
Dai spun in the direction of where the noise was coming from, but couldn’t see anything. The barks became quieter, making him doubt himself. Almost as suddenly the barking became louder; it seemed much closer to him now, as if they were a little further down the valley from him.
Dai jogged in the direction of the barking. His fury at their trespassing owners blocked out all thoughts of his own safety. The barking got louder still as he walked – at one point he could have sworn the dogs had been right next to him if he hadn’t looked and seen bare ground. He stopped, spinning on the spot. The barking had become so loud, it was impossible to tell where it was coming from. It dawned on Dai that there might be more than one dog, and they might not be on a lead. From the vehemence of the barking, Dai realised he might not want to be caught alone on an abandoned compound.
Dai made a run downhill towards the train line at the bottom of the valley, an irrational sense of safety associated with its openness. One of the dogs called to its friends, seeming to chase him based on the sounds. Dai’s breathing hitched as he ran, but he managed it to the bottom of the steep hill and broke free from the treeline. He stumbled, glancing behind him to see nothing following him. He paused to catch his breath.
After a minute or two, he noticed the barking had stopped. He stood straighter, glancing around the valley hillsides. No sound greeted him – even the wind had died down to leave an eerie silence ringing in his ears. His skin prickled. Eyes scanning the valley around him, he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was being watched. No matter how hard he looked, he couldn’t see anything hiding in the trees.
Slowly, he turned and started to walk back in the direction of the main site. He was surprised how far he had managed to walk. Dai kept his attention focused on any suspicious noises, but the trespassers must have moved on. He was angry at himself: he had worked here for a long time before the depot had closed. He knew this site inside and out – was he really going to let some intruder freak him out?
He had almost persuaded himself to turn back around and chase the intruder, when he spied someone with their back to him walking along the line in front of him.
“Oi!” He called, his anger returning.
The stranger carried on walking. They were wearing an old dark blue boiler suit, eerily like the old work uniform they all had to wear. The man was a little bit away from him, but Dai could clearly see the sickly yellow hue of his skin. Dai’s skin prickled.
“You can’t be here!” Dai jogged to try to catch up with the strange man, intent on marching him out the front gates.
The stranger neared a turn off in the tracks towards one of the empty storage caverns.
“Hey!” Dai tried running towards the man, but he had already gone out of sight around the corner. “Don’t ignore me – I’ll phone the police!”
When Dai finally rounded the corner, the man was nowhere in sight. Dai looked around him. From where he stood, he had a clear view of the surrounding woodland. No matter how fast that bloke had been walking, there was no way he had disappeared that fast. Dai’s skin began to prickle. The only thing in front of him was the entrance to cavern 9.
Dai walked slowly towards the huge door. The green paint was flaking off, showing the rusting metal beneath. Dai glanced around him once more before walking closer to the door. The closer he got, the more he was struck with an overwhelming sense of wrongness. The padlock lay open on the door handle, one half of the door lying slightly ajar.
“This is private property!” Dai called, his voice wobbling. “I’ll call the police!”
He chastised himself for being so jumpy, then strode towards the open door with purpose. Opening the door wider, he was met with the darkness within. The light from the open door lit the fire hydrant built into the wall; the empty cavern beyond still concealed in darkness.
“This is your last warning…” Dai called into the darkness, his own voice echoing back to meet him. Still his warnings garnered no response.
Dai pushed the door until it settled against the wall, then cautiously walked towards the light switch. The cavern lit up, most of the old lights that lined the ceiling springing into life. He could see all the way down to the bottom end of the cavern from where he stood, his sin crawling when he saw it stood empty.
He became hyperaware of the fact that whoever he had caught wandering on the old train line had managed to trick him into entering the cavern and that whoever it had been was probably waiting to shut the door on him. He flicked off the lights and legged it out of the cavern as fast as he could, pulling the door closed after him. He made sure the padlock was securely in place, so that the vandals couldn’t get in again.
Dai’s patience was wearing thin. This was obviously kids playing tricks on him. How they got back into the site he didn’t know, but it had to be those bloody kids. Furious at himself for falling for it, he stormed back in the direction of the depot.
“I’m calling the police!” He shouted as he walked, convinced that whoever was hiding in the woods could hear him. They would be stood where they could see him. He glared at the surrounding hills so they would know he was serious.
He didn’t have time for this rubbish – he had to prepare the old depot for this viewing later in the week.
The next day he did a scout of the surrounding fencing. It took him the better part of the day, but it would mean no more kids could break in any time soon. He didn’t find many more loose posts like the one he’d found earlier in the week, but secured as many as he could.
Part of him would be relieved when a sale was agreed and the site would be taken over. As much as he knew it was kids behind the weird instances, he was ashamed of how much they had affected him. However they had pulled the stunt with the stranger was what really unsettled him. Not only had they gotten the old uniform right, they had gone to the effort of using some kind of face paint to add the yellowish hue to his skin, as if he had been one of Dai’s old colleagues that worked with the construction of the ammunition.
In the week leading up to the viewing, Dai tried his best to ignore anything else suspicious. He never wandered too far from the old buildings, and purposefully ignored the sounds of barking carried by the wind. He remained confident in his repairs to the fencing.
The day of the viewing, he went about his usual business. He watched the people file in thorough the entrance gates, his nostalgia almost overwhelming. These people wore prim business outfits and smart coats that looked like they had never even been in contact with anything other than an office – nothing like the old boiler suits of the old staff. Dai made sure to shut the gates behind them so no kids could be tempted to do one last hurrah before the depot was sold.
Dai wandered towards some of the first buildings towards the railway line that led onto the site. He watched as the property developer showed the potential buyers around, babbling on about potential uses. He double checked the now secured door of the building that had been broken into, wandering out of sight of the interested parties. The door remained boarded up. The padlock held fast on the outdoor box containing the new fire extinguisher. He was about to move on further down the site when he heard a noise in the nearby boiler house.
He glanced towards it. There was a humming noise emanating from it as if the old boilers were still running to produce steam. Alarmed, Dai ran towards it – those boilers were old and hadn’t been used since the ammunitions were produced back in World War 2. Dai doubted they would even be working, but he couldn’t run the risk. If those bloody kids had been stupid enough to try and start those… He didn’t even know how they’d done it, but they’d put their own lives in danger by doing so.
Dai slammed through the door into the gloom of the old building. The boiler system had indeed been turned on, but loose pipes meant the whole room was shrouded in steam. Dai could barely see two metres in front of him, let alone wherever those kids were hiding. Anger thrummed through him. Nicking fire extinguishers was one thing – this could cause serious damage to the building.
Dai glanced behind him to make sure the buyers weren’t anywhere near. A film of moisture coated the floor and surfaces where the steam had condensed. Dai trod carefully further into the building. He had to turn these things off.
“Get out of here, you bloody vandals!” He shouted as loud as he could. As angry as this made him, he wouldn’t be able to forgive himself if someone died in here. “Get out before you kill yourselves!”
Dai managed to find one of the boilers’ control panels. He started to fiddle with the dials to turn the thing off, steam hissing in front of his face. Nothing seemed to happen, but then he saw someone stood on the opposite side of the pipes to him. In between intermittent bursts of steam, the yellow face of a middle aged man clothed in a navy boiler suit could be seen. The man stood watching Dai, an emotionless expression on his face. Now that he was closer, Dai could tell that the yellowish hue to the man’s skin wasn’t face paint.
A burst of steam hid the man from view. When the steam had cleared, the man was gone. Dai felt extremely uncomfortable. This had gone too far for a mere joke. Dai blocked out his shock and fought with the dials until he’d managed to turn off the boiler. No one was in sight. Dai puzzled over how someone could move that fast. He ran around the other equipment, turning everything off. He quickly looked around the building but found no one. He shut the door behind him, reaching into his pocket for a spare padlock.
He secured the door and walked away as fast as he could, the delayed horror of that same stranger’s presence started to creep beneath his skin. As much as it had saddened him to see the beloved depot in such a state of abandonment and disrepair, after the last few days he couldn’t help but think the sale couldn’t come fast enough.
What a phenomenal novel. I’d seen this sneaky little thing patiently waiting for me as a hardback, with its absolutely gorgeous cover that perfectly encompasses the whole theme behind Nemesis’ character (beautiful but deadly). ARGH! I absolutely loved it. Finally I picked it up a few weeks ago, and FINALLY got around to reading it. Boy, I’m glad I did!
I loved absolutely everything about this novel. I’m not sure if there was anything I actually disliked at all. Just the sheer scope of Nemesis’ story that S J Kincaid covers within this beauty is just astounding, and there wasn’t anything to leave me unsatisfied.
I loved Nemesis as a character! She was really likeable to follow, and her character arc was superb. I loved the transition from this deadly living weapon to someone who wasn’t sure how to deal with all of her emotions as they started developing. We see such a huge change in her as a character throughout this novel as she goes through so much in this narrative. No more had you settled with one plot twist that changed her whole world, than Kincaid introduced another one that completely threw her back to square one. So many brilliant plot twists!!
The plot was completely water tight. First we see Nemesis in her natural habitat with Sidonia, the human she’s been bonded to so that she’ll protect her. I loved this concept, and Sidonia’s alternative perception on how Nemesis was a human in her own right was really endearing, and gave a wonderful insight into this beautiful world that Kincaid had created. Then Nemesis is thrown completely out of her depth when she has to pose as Sidonia in the galactic emperor’s court in order to save her life. Watching Nemesis take all that came at her head on was truly lovely to see, and I couldn’t help but love her strong character. This plot had me sobbing at many a plot twist, and I am so glad that I picked it up. You never got bored because Kincaid had thrown us into another section of the plot just as you soaked in the details of the last plot point. The pacing was done really well to boot, so you were never bored, and Kincaid always kept you guessing as to what was going to happen next. I just really bloody loved it!
One thing that Kincaid absolutely excelled at with this novel was the world building. She’d put so much thought into how everything fit together – all the out of date futuristic science, the new Helionistic religion, the new etiquette that we learnt about through Nemesis’ lack of knowledge… Everything had been so well thought through, but it didn’t feel like you were having loads of sci-fi shoved down your throat. It was brilliantly done, and due to Kincaid’s wonderful pacing it was drip fed to you throughout the whole novel.
I loved how Kincaid portrayed the romance, too. What I really really loved was Nemesis was without a doubt a deadly character that could kill someone with ease – and even when she did discover she had emotions and could very easily fall in love with someone (much to her confusion), she didn’t become the simpering idiot that most female characters do in romance novels. PLUS (if you regularly read my blog posts you know what I’m about to say) it wasn’t all about the romance!!! Which was absolutely bloody marvellous because it didn’t become the main focus of the whole plot (until a little bit at the end but because this was such an awesome book I can forgive it) and didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the overall narrative because Kincaid had put so much effort into building the story up. That ending was so heartbreaking – Kincaid kept you hanging on until right at the last minute and I was so goddamn happy with how she ended the novel!!
As you can probably tell, I absolutely bloody loved this novel. It’s getting a well deserved 5/5, and for damn good reason. This makes a wonderful standalone novel, but you have no idea how happy I was when I looked it up afterwards and found out there’s a sequel coming out next month. I literally cannot tell you how much I love this novel!!
After watching the Netflix adaptation earlier this year, I was interested to read Jay Asher’s novel because if there’s one thing I really love, it’s adaptation. Just as in the Netflix series, Asher’s novel follows the character Clay Jensen after he discovers some tapes left on his doorstep which appear to be from Hannah Baker – a girl from his class who has recently committed suicide. On these tapes she details why she committed suicide, and that if you were listening to the tapes you were one of the reasons why.
I loved the Netflix series. It was compulsive watching for me: it hooked me right in with the whole concept, lulled a little in the middle, and then went full throttle when it got to that end point. I loved it, and after reading the novel it was based on I’m really craving watching to watch it all over again to see the comparisons between them.
Asher throws you right into the action – when Clay discovers the tapes on his doorstep. One thing I really loved, was the adaptation used pretty much the same opening dialogue that Hannah uses in the novel. I could picture the adaptation so clearly in my head throughout most of the novel because of how similar Hannah’s dialogue was – it was so damn gripping! A stylistic point of view that I absolutely adored were the play, pause, and stop symbols that were used to break up the sections of the narrative in relation to Hannah’s tapes. Both that and the interspersed interjections from Clay broke the novel up into easy digestible chunks, so I didn’t realise how much I’d read until I’d finished the chapter.
Clay is such a cute protagonist – as much as he’s trying to listen to what Hannah’s saying, he’s hurt that she could blame him for her death. One thing that did annoy me was the overshadowing of victim blaming that came from the various character’s attitudes, even Clay at points. It was almost accusing Hannah of not reaching out enough – which reminded me of what I’ve heard people say about the adaptation in relation to victim blaming. You never know what someone else is going through.
The pacing was brilliant – even though I’d watched the series adaptation and felt that there was a lull in the middle episodes, that didn’t faze me about the novel. There didn’t seem to be the same slow pace – every chapter moved smoothly into the next, a true testament to Asher’s skill as a writer.
I’m not sure if I would have loved this novel as much if I’d read it before watching the series, as parts of the filler stuff that was included in the adaptation filled in some of the background of the novel that I might have questioned had I not seen it. I might have said that some of the characters weren’t as fleshed out as they could be, though we are only seeing them through Hannah’s narrative. Her bias would cloud them, and paint them with the vicious reality that she would have seen them with.
I don’t know if I’d have been as satisfied with the ending either – it was abrupt in a sense, though you couldn’t miss the comparison between Skye’s character and Hannah’s. Almost as if the novel had come full circle, and that Clay had realised if he had also reached out to Hannah sooner, she might still have been alive. It was a beautiful comment on being caring for others, and to try and think about what other people might be going through.
I really loved this novel – it was really beautiful, and I especially loved how Asher played with form. The use of italics to showcase Hannah’s narrative as different from Clay’s was brilliant. Overall, I would give this novel a 5/5, and it’s not hard to see why this has become a cult classic.
This novel wasn’t quite what I was expecting. The market has been absolutely saturated with psychological thrillers – which I love, because pretty much every one I’ve read so far has been spot on. However I soon twigged a few pages in that this wasn’t the novel I thought it would be – instead it morphed into a detective mystery. Don’t get me wrong, it was good – just not what I thought it was going to be.
I’m not sure if I was a little disappointed because it wasn’t what I’d been expecting, but the middle section was a little dull. It was all necessary set up for the full throttle ending, but it did drag a little. The beginning grabbed my interest because of the protagonist Cat’s complicated relationship with her father. With the flashback sections to Cat’s childhood, Caz Frear skilfully paints a picture of suspicion. Was her father really who she thought he was?
The novel keeps coming back to this Maryanne Doyle character that Cat remembered from her childhood. She suspects that her father was involved in the girl’s disappearance from a small village in Ireland because of his suspicious behaviour at the time. As a result of her innocence being ripped to shreds because of this suspicion making her think the worst, their relationship deteriorates over the years. This sparked my interest more than the detective side to the story, as it kept coming back to connections between the newly discovered dead woman and her father.
Frear creates tension so well! The hook with the protagonist’s father kept me interested through the less intriguing bits that were necessary to set up the narrative until her main plot took over. Frear’s characterisation of Cat’s grapple with her morality is sublime: does she do as her job dictates and follow her instinct about her father, or does she stay loyal to her family and leave him be? This inner conflict was conveyed perfectly. However it was a little cliched – the tortured detective fighting to do her job and all that jazz. Due to this specific genre being so saturated, it’s so hard to find a unique spin to put on it. That being said, I really enjoyed it.
The mystery of who Alice Lapaine/Maryanne Doyle was and why she’d materialised into Cat’s adult life again was really intriguing. The pacing was brilliantly done, so that even though Frear got in the necessary detail to move her plot forward, the slower parts to the narrative weren’t there for long. While it had been slow to start off, apart from the hook about Cat’s father, once the plot picked up some pace it was a really gripping story. That latter half of the book especially made up for the beginning. Once everything slotted into place, it was a really engaging read. I did feel that there were a lot more contradictions to Cat’s character than was originally intended, especially as Frear was tackling with the character’s morality. For example, a police woman smoking weed – a small contradiction (as surely if her moral compass was truly pointing north she wouldn’t indulge in this?).
As slow as the novel was to pick up, the ending definitely made up for it. Though I’m not sure if Cat’s character could sustain a sequel or a series – part of the original hook in the blurb was the suspicion surrounding Cat’s father, and this was resolved within this one novel (essentially). That being said, it was a decent novel. I would give it a 3/5 because the ending was brilliant and I didn’t see that twist coming, but the beginning and start to the middle sections did let it down.