I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
I’m never write sure what to make of the books I pick up from netgalley. I’ve read some really amazing things, and I’ve found some authors I will actively avoid in the future. I don’t mind the disparity of it; it’s part of the charm of the site. I’d rather have a mixed bag than always know what to expect.
I know, this is a pretty ominous opening to a review, huh? It sounds worse than it is, I promise.
THE NIGHT CHILD was a book I picked up quite a while ago, and only just recently had a chance to read it. The description seemed to promise some interesting looks into the human condition, as it were, and in that I was not disappointed. The trouble is, it felt like there were way too many things all happening at once. I see where the author was going with them all, but in a book the length of this one (not that long) and having a core concept that needs to punch as hard as this one does (spoilers) having the plot come across as messy and busy hurts what the author, I have to assume, is trying to do. It’s incredibly fragmented — which is fitting, given the topics of the story and the headspace of the main character, but again, it kept me from fully investing. We’re never given a strong reason to connect with Nora, other than she’s our narrator, and her past is messed up. The characters I truly end up caring about are more sideline. James. Fiona. John. David. They’re the ones caught in the cross fire of this roller coaster.
Our leads? Nope. This isn’t to say that I don’t understand why they act the way they do, because I basically do. But when both leads, who we are theoretically supposed to be rooting for, just make me go “eh”, something is wrong.
There are some pieces of truly beautiful writing tucked away in here, though. Descriptions that paint better pictures than many artists. And through it all, it is a very broken and jagged narrative. As it should be. It can border on incoherent, and still you don’t lose the story line. That takes skill.
I can’t speak to the psychology of the book. I don’t know if it’s accurate or fair, as I’ve never gone through what Nora has. It seemed believable enough to me, though I would love to hear the opinion of someone who knows better than me. And I have to admit, the ending left a lot to be desired. I’m not the kind of guy who is going to get all up in arms about loose threads, because I leave them too, sometimes intentionally. But this… This lacked resolution. It just… dropped. And when the whole book seems to be leading to that moment, leaving it with no denouement seemed unfortunate.
But as you can see, I’m not totally panning the book. I still consider it something worth a look. I may not be able to put my finger on a definite reason, but it’s worth that look.
Rating: *** – Worth a Look
THE NIGHT CHILD comes out tomorrow, January 30, 2018.