36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read!
The Silent Land
Zoe and Jake are on a skiing holiday and survive an avalanche whilst out on the slopes. When they emerge from the snow, the resort is completely deserted....
I started reading The Silent Land just as the first thick blanket of snow fell here which felt weirdly like the story was seeping into real life! But the writing is so good that even if it...
Published on 29 Nov 2010 by Kim Slater
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been so much more.
The Silent Land gets a straight up three for the premise and the premise alone.
Having thought about it, this would have been much better served as a short story. As it was there was simply too much padding throughout and pages and pages of the main characters performing the most mundane of tasks, which were in no shape or form even necessary to the plot...
Published 11 months ago by Burning Amnesia
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5.0 out of 5 stars Could not put this down!,
I literally, just today, started/finished this book! My God! Soooooooooo triumphant! As a HUGE fan of Graham Joyce as it is, I picked up this book with great optimism (having already read 'The Storm Watcher' and 'The Tooth Fairy') and was transfixed to it. I love how we can set the scene without droning on just to fill pages like so many other authors do. I won't mention who these people are, but if you're an avid reader like myself, you know who I'm talking about (and more importantly, we know where they live...). And all the way through I felt so connected to the characters and even though there were very few, that only made me love them more. Whenever the scene turned for the worst I actually felt myself scared for the characters and then found myself relieved with my heart racing when they would turn out to be okay after a two or three pages of what I thought would be instant peril, and this was just in the opening chapters.
When reading a Graham Joyce novel, he makes you feel for the characters so much that you actually feel like you're one of them. You literally fall in love and pray for everything to be okay.
The pace of this story too is fantastic! It keeps you guessing all the way to then end and even after you've finished reading! A part of me wants to pick it up again so upon a second glance I can pick up on little hints and such, but seriously, I don't think I could put myself through all that again, not for a while at least.
Seriously, I wish I could give this mother for than 5 stars! Just literary perfection! Graham, I tip my hat to you!
4.0 out of 5 stars The Silent land,
Enjoyable read. Well written, which is a necessity for me, and real enough characters. Only minor complaint is that the denouement was pretty well sign-posted about half way through.
3.0 out of 5 stars A cliche-ridden requiem for life & love,
Zoe and Jake are trapped in an avalanche while on a skiing holiday, but somehow manage to escape. Or do they? They find their hotel and the local village both deserted and the phone lines dead, but when they try to venture further afield for help, they keep finding themselves back where they began. A waiting game begins, while they try to work out what has happened, or - perhaps more importantly - what will happen next...
Joyce has an unpretentious prose style that is easy to read, and a gift for both characterisation and evocation of place which I hoped might lift a storyline that otherwise held little appeal for me. Having read the back cover synopsis, one knows to expect a slightly hackneyed scenario to play out, and - aside from the sarcastic banter - it really does have the deja vu feel of watching a Sunday afternoon movie you have seen too many times before. One must be of a certain mindset(/generation?) to find the characters' banter entertaining, and I did find it somewhat grating. I was simply waiting for the story to move on and find out if we would ever know why, in this particular instance, the scenario was taking place.
I was in fact slightly shocked when, a little pseudo-philosophising and a lot of schmaltz later I found that there were no surprises to unfold in this story. The characters retained a ghostly lack of solidity and believability, despite their constant back and forth of conversation; and what began as a cliché, continued and ended as a cliché. I knew from previous of Joyce novels (of which I am nevertheless fond) that he is a romantic at heart; but while it's nice to see a contemporary author - not of the romance genre - who is not too jaded to write about a true love relationship, it was disappointing that there really was no unique perspective to be gleaned from this very straightforward requiem for life and love. I should have trusted my instincts with regard to a synopsis that did not appeal. On the plus side, it didn't take more than a few hours to read.
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely flawed, but the intriguing premise saved it!,
This review is from: The Silent Land (Paperback)
It's quite hard to explain what this book is about. It opens with a young married couple, Zoe and Jake, out skiing in the early morning. They are anticipating enjoying the peace and beautiful scenery before the rest of the resort empties onto the slopes for the day - but instead end up getting swept up in an avalanche...
When she comes to, Zoe manages to fight her way out from under the snow and is reunited with Jake, and the two stumble back down to the village to get help and warn the other skiiers. But when they reach their hotel - the closest to the slopes - there is no one there, and it appears that everyone has left in quite a hurry. Figuring that perhaps the hotel has been evacuated, they walk into town, only to find it likewise deserted. At first the couple find this situation quite a romantic novelty, cooking dinner in the hotel kitchen and enjoying the spa and the empty slopes, but then strange things start to happen. Zoe begins to hallucinate, time seems to speed up and slow down at will, and when they try to leave the village, no matter what they do the roads always bring them back to where they started. Has the town really been evacuated? Or has everyone died in the avalanche? Have THEY died in the avalanche? And why does it feel like the village itself is trying to manipulate them in some way?
It's a fascinating novel, which really keeps you puzzling and trying to figure out exactly what is going on. I started to work it all out as the chapters flew by, but even so I wasn't quite sure until all the pieces came together at the end. Occasionally it got a bit TOO puzzling, and I think I missed a step on a couple of occasions, but that might have been me rather than the book. I did find that as the situation got more sinister, things started to get a little bit repetitive and once or twice I found myself getting frustrated as a result. The sex scenes were horrendously clinical, I have to say, and I found some of the coarser moments of dialogue between the couple very jarring, and completely at odds with the thoughtful, almost poetic nature of the themes and setting. But when push came to shove, it WAS an interesting premise, with some beautifully surreal moments, some genuinely frightening scenes, and a moving message about the nature of life and the power of love which had me tearing up nicely. Cautiously recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars The silent land,
I purchased this book on a whim and im so glad I did. This book is awe inspiring to people who take our world for granted. There are 2 people in this book that seem to me who want to make everything ok .From there darkest secrets to there hidden desires. Really made me stay up all night and read it
3.0 out of 5 stars Patches of snow with rain to follow,
The Silent Land has an accessible and easy flow to its prose that does keep the pages turning. There are some beautifully evocative turns of phrase throughout and an interesting use of increasingly potent dream symbols that foreshadow what is to come.
However, with that said, I still had problems with this novel.
Jake and Zoe were rather schizophrenic characters I felt. Every moving scene they shared would be jarred by 'hip' dialogue where they seemed to be trying to act twenty years younger than they were. I found the slang to be completely out of character for individuals from their respective backgrounds and thought this served to undercut the poignancy of certain key scenes to the detriment of the novel as a whole.
Jake also had the most significant character arc to follow and it seemed like much of his growth was kept hidden until very near to the end which again jarred as he seemed to suddenly change rather than to naturally do so according to his circumstances.
With regard to the setting and story itself, I had a distinct feeling of having been here before which meant that I worked out the conclusion to the novel about halfway through and this did detract from the emotional impact of the ending as a result. Though I did think there was one moment where sentiment was laid on a little too thickly during the climax, which was a shame given the restraint shown up until that point.
Just to reiterate, The Silent Land is well-written and flows well and my main problems with it were the fluctuating characterisation and the familiarity of their predicament.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and atmospheric,
Reading other reviewers being picky about this'n that, I am a little surprised to read here that 'it's too slow' (??)or that it is not well-written enough etc...Obviously not the book you would pick-up if you wanted to read grand literature, nethertheless I found it well written enough to pleasantly carry me through the story, not so much thinking about style, but about what was taking place...I simply loved the premise of this young couple on a holiday break in the Pyrennees when they are suddenly engulfed in a avalanche. What follows is utterly disconcerting and riveting, and no, I never guessed what was coming (the revelation at the end) because all is very skifully orchestrated all along. I found it incredibly atmospheric, I could see the abandonned hotel, the snow slopes, the total isolation of the two protagonists, left behind to survive in a deserted world. This is a theme I like in literature and so far found two other books with that same theme but a very different treatment: 'Night Work' by Glavinic and 'Grand solo for Anton' by Rosendorfer. This one by Joyce is the one I prefer by far. There is a depth to the story that leaves one thoughtful and it is a very touching love story disguised as 'sci-fi'. I read it on a holiday where it proved to be a perfect, excellent holiday read indeed. Totally recommend it to anyone longing for the silence of the mountains and the snow...
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eerie and Atmospheric,
The one word that describes this book is `eerie'. The atmosphere, the situation the two people find themselves in, the deserted town and the visions that seemingly only Zoe can see are haunting and mysterious.
They try to drive out of town but the car breaks down, they try to walk away but end up on the same road that brings them back to the town, they ski over the mountain but, again, they find themselves back to the same familiar buildings.
"It's almost like something is keeping us here in this village." Zoe said, looking around her. "Like something doesn't want to let us go."
Zoe and Jake are a happily married couple who have been together for 10 years and their love for each other is apparent in the tender way they watch out for each other, constantly reassuring each other that everything will be okay, while keeping their thoughts to themselves that it may not be.
They can walk into any of the shops and take whatever they want, including designer shoes and clothes but there seems little point when there's no-one to show off to.
Candles don't burn down, food stays fresh, Zoe has the same recurring vision of the hotel lobby full of people but when she looks again they're gone, they felt as though they'd been living there for weeks but it was only a couple of days ...... what and where is this place?
I was totally immersed in the story of this young couple who are desperate to know what's happening but are powerless to do anything, and I felt such sympathy and desperation for them I really wanted there to be a happy ending.
There are just a handful of books I've read that have stayed with me long after I've moved on and I think that this will be one of them.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another superb book from this wonderful writer,
The Silent Land is another superb book from Graham Joyce, the UK's most thought-provoking writer in the fantasy genre. The relationship between Zoe and Jake is full of love and humour but never sentimental - they cuss each other as often as they make love! What I love about Graham's fantasy writing is its ambivalence. The believer in the supernatural finds the wonderful imagination of the writer very satisfying, but for those of us who are non-believers, there is always a possible rational explanation available. And Graham never forces us to take one particular view.
If you've never read Graham Joyce, start with this book - you will soar with the ski-iers. For anyone who has loved The Tooth Fairy, The Facts of Life, Dark Sister, Dreamside, you will be well satisfied with this new one.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but flawed,
There is much to commend about this book, but it also has its problems - and most serious of these are found in the opening third. In fact I almost abandoned the book before my interest picked up and really rallied in the middle section. My difficulty with the initial set-up is that it's really rather slow and uninteresting - it's readily apparent to the reader (from having read the plot synopsis on the back cover if nothing else) what seems to be happening but Joyce takes us through the tedious negotiations of the main characters figuring out what their situation is (they can't leave the resort, all roads lead back to where they start) - familiar from numerous other books / films etc (the short story Willa from Stephen King's Just After Sunset covers very similar ground, to give one recent example, or John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC], or just about any Silent Hill game). I couldn't help but feel that this section, which lasts about 100 pages was little more than filler to pad out the book. The other problem with the section is some fairly execrable dialog as Joyce introduces and fleshes out his characters: occasionally I felt something close to embarassment as I read it: "[It] would be, like, cool, as they say on MTV". It reads at times like a BBC sitcom aimed at a middle-aged audience, written by someone from different generation than that of his younger characters (Joyce also uses the sentence "He was living it large" - and not as part of character dialog. Ouch.)
However, this section gives way to a much more intriguing middle section where Joyce creates a genuine sense of mystery, with some great haunting imagery, which is punctuated by some very touching recollections of loss: these sections really gave the book an emotional charge for me (even if there was a slight sense of generational contortion in having a youngish character in an absolutely contemporary setting being fathered by a man who served as a commander in WWII). Finally, the resolution was for me also something of a letdown - a little bit too rote, or cliched perhaps, but with just enough emotional resonance to smooth over its staidness. Overall I would recommend, but with a few reservations - in parts genuinely moving, in others too formulaic and occasionally let down by some fairly indifferent rendering of character.
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The Silent Land by Graham Joyce (Paperback - 10 Nov 2011)