As unlikely as parts of this plot did seem, I did enjoy the basis of the story mostly, so figure it was the writing style I didn’t quite gel with. This wasn’t an easy read for me. Not in terms of themes or anything, but literally – it didn’t flow very well. On more than one occasion I found myself rereading a paragraph to see if I’d missed a sentence with some vital information. Also, sometimes dialogue is written in dialect to reflect a person’s accent, and sometimes not. With seemingly no reasoning for this disparity, it just further distanced me from a narrative I struggled to invest in.
Gael as a character also confused me. For someone who we are encouraged to believe is altruistic at her core, I often found her motivation and actions pretty shady. She also happens to be one of the most sardonically astute characters I’ve come across, despite being only 11 when we are first introduced to her. I just didn’t believe such a young girl would have her qualities, despite her unusual relationships with her parents. She was more than just older than her years. There is a moment early on, when she catches her Dad naked as he comes out of the shower. She seems to be incredibly aware of the exchange of power that takes place in this confrontation, and the hold this gives her over her father. It was just a little too unbelievable, and more than a little odd. Essentially, I felt apathetic towards the protagonist as I found her unrealistic.
Her brother Guthrie on the other hand, was of great interest to me. Unfortunately, despite being given quite a complex back story, we saw little of him first hand, and only got insight into his character through Gael. Without giving too much away, considering a lot of the emotional stakes are invested in how we feel towards Guthrie and what he goes through, I think we should have been given more time with him in the story.
I really expected to like this one, and suspect many will still do so. I think it simply comes down to the writing style not quite working for me, a wish for the story to be sharper, and the characters a little more sculpted.
Thank you to Oneworld for providing an ebook through Netgalley in exchange for an honest opinion