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4.1 out of 5 stars
The State We're In
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303 of 322 people found the following review helpful
on 12 October 2014
The description of ‘The State We’re In’ is quite vague, resulting in readers starting the book without hardly any idea of what will happen to the characters. In times where we often already know the entire plotline of a book before actually reading it ourselves, I thought this was quite a refreshing experience and will therefore try to not give away too many details in my review. The book tells the story of two characters, Jo and Dean, who meet on a flight from London to Chicago. Jo and Dean appear to be each other’s opposite; Jo is a slightly ditzy hopeless romantic, while Dean is an attractive cynical business man who does not believe in love. Jo wants someone to talk to during the long flight to Chicago, while Dean just wants to travel alone and in silence. I’m not going to say much more about the plotline besides that after this flight, both Jo’s and Dean’s life will never be the same again.

A lot of people have said that this is Adele Parks’ best novel, but seeing as I haven’t read any of her other books I can’t really compare it to anything else. It took me a couple of chapters to get into the story, but as soon as I was I wanted to keep on reading and discover what would happen. The story is told from the perspective of four different characters: Jo, Dean, Clara and Eddie, and they’re all well-developed with fascinating and complicated background stories. The book deals with some universal themes: relationships, marriage, family ties, and Adele Parks explores these topics in an intriguing way. Her writing style is intense and detailed and even though this is my first Adele Parks novel, I am convinced she’s an amazing storyteller.

This book is surrounded by a lot of mystery and I think it is pretty amazing that if you look up reviews, everyone seems to respect the decision to keep the ending a secret. The publisher created the Twitter hastag #KeepTheSecret and it seems to have worked. However, all the buzz and excitement regarding this ‘secret’ prepared me for something big, something spectacular. And while the ending did not necessarily disappoint me, I couldn’t help but get a feeling like: Is this really it? Therefore, I recommend people who are thinking of picking up this novel to definitely pick it up, but do not just read it for the secret, read it for the wonderful story that’s inside. ‘The State We’re In’ is an intriguing and emotional love story; my first Adele Parks reading experience and it has definitely made me want to pick up more of her work in the future!
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117 of 130 people found the following review helpful
I have been an avid reader of Adele Parks for many years and after reading her last novel Whatever It Takes and finding it somewhat lacking it’s usual sparkle I so wanted The State We’re In to be good.

This was an unusual story, we start off in 80′s London with the stories of Clara and Eddie, both of whom are young married and unhappy. We are given the outline of a brief affair between them and from there we jump forward to 2005 where we meet Jo.

Jo is a romantic and single 30 something who having failed to find her happy ever after decides to jet off to Chicago to stop the wedding of the fiancé she jilted at the altar many years before. On the flight she meets Dean and decides to open her heart to him.

It is such a difficult book to critique because it went through peaks and troughs but for me there were too many slow moments. I just couldn’t get into this book. I had to keep forcing myself to go back to it. I’d read a few pages then lose interest again, this continued until around 70% of the way through then I finally found my groove with the book and from there to the end I really enjoyed it.

It had a very good ending but I won’t give any hints, it is a trawl though to get to the ending and I can’t say it’s left me feeling overly positive towards the work of Adele Parks, she seems to have written a heroine who lacked any real depth of emotion for much of the book. She came across as too flighty, too flimsy and that made it difficult to fall into the story with any enthusiasm.

I liked it but I’m glad I’m finished as it did feel like a long slog.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 10 February 2014
I've never read an Adele Parks novel before, so I've got a back catalogue to catch up on. To be honest, I kind of expected the "usual" romance type novel-I could not have been more wrong. This book is great. The characters are so well drawn and believable, and you really want to know what happens to them all. Obviously, I won't be giving anything away (#keepthesecret) but needless to say this book is full of surprises and twists that keep you guessing till the end. It is one of those books, that I was absolutely devastated to have finished. I tweeted that I was bereft, and that just about sums it up. Superb. You get the drift-I really quite liked it :)
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on 21 March 2014
This book just didn't sit right with me at all, I feel I've read a different book to the other reviewers. I found the characters totally unlikeable especially Jo who is spoilt, selfish and quite often ridiculous. I think this is actually Adele Parks' plan and you are then supposed to start to understand her and fall in love with her. Well I didn't, nor with any other of the 3 main characters, I started to a little with Dean....but not quite enough. The ending actually made me laugh, it was so forced and can't help thinking it was trying to match the oh so beautiful end to 'Me before you' but without Jojo Moyes' wonderful comedic and insightful writing it just didn't quite get there. Not for me.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 10 January 2015
Worst book I've read in a while, no character depth, and terrible ending.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 2015
I loved this book and raced through it in a couple of days. It's difficult to say what it's about without giving away some of the plot-line. A chance meeting on a plane leads to Dean and Jo feeling a strong connection despite seeming to be polar opposites in their attitudes to love. And it turns out they have a much stronger connection that they thought! Adele Parks writes about her characters' emotions beautifully and I for one, found the storyline completely believable. Hadn't read any Adele Parks before but will now!
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58 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on 19 March 2014
This could have been a brilliant and engaging read. The intertwining stories were original and I found the characters well put together with brilliant observation, by the end of the book I was really invested in their story. This is why I am so disappointed and quite frankly outraged by the sudden ending and awful epilogue. It ruined the whole read for me and I could not recommend this book to anyone. I do not understand what possessed the author and I would never waste my time or money on another of her books.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on 3 May 2014
This book put me in mind of a dispersible aspirin – something that starts out solid and promises to make you feel better but actually fizzles out into nothing significant.

The story starts with Eddie, the ‘baddie’ - whom I actually liked - but after page 11, the time-frame leaps forward several years and Eddie is all but killed off. As for the main characters, I tried really hard but could not get to like either of them. Both are stereotypes: Jo is your bog-standard 35-year-old, single “sleep around,” longing to meet The One so that she can get married; Dean is the physically perfect “love ‘em and leave ‘em” commitment-phobe.

There are no surprises in any of the 400 pages. I accurately predicted events long before they happened. I was, though, looking forward to the ending, not least because the dust jacket had promised that it would knock me off my feet. It didn’t, but it did leave my mouth hanging open. I just couldn’t believe the cowardly, corny cop-out of the last two-and-a-half pages.

I wanted to shake Adele Parks and tell her to move on from writing this mindless, chicklit mush. I'm sure she’s capable of so much more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 April 2015
This is quite a complicated book. It starts with the early history of a family in mid-'70s London, the parents obviously very unhappy with each other, and the children, a young boy and a baby girl, being looked after by a mother who is totally unprepared for motherhood, and a father who is a writer for the BBC, and who hankers after a life unfettered by family responsibilities, a true child of the '70s, and about to abandon his wife and children.

The next time you meet them, the children are in their '30s and it's 2005. Dean, the boy, has made a huge success of his life. He is a valued member of an ad agency based in Chicago, and is on the verge of a most lucrative contract, when a phone call from a nurse in a London hospital informs him that his father is dying and is asking for him! His father's name has been a dirty word ever since abandoning the family when he and his sister were so young, but his PA books him a flight to London, which conveniently works in with meeting up with the executive dealing with the ad contract who is based in London, and he feels duty bound to visit this man who has so wronged him, and has earned his hatred. The story continues with Dean's reactions to this heartless father and his re-assessing of his and his sister's lives, and how they inter-twine with another family whose lives have been unknowingly connected to the father, and involved with his leaving his family.

The author is a keen observer of the roots of unhappiness, and although I did enjoy this book, and all the characters emerged from the purging flames better and more rounded from their experiences, it could easily have turned out that each could have just continued on their self-destructive paths and lived unhappily ever after. Still rated it 5-stars though, because it was so well written. And even though I was on tenterhooks most of the time I was reading it, it was a spell binding read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 January 2014
Review: I will admit that I found this book a little difficult to get into at first, but when I did I literally couldn't stop. I actually ended up listening to this on audiobook. I knew that I liked the narrator of this particular audiobook, having listened to her on several other occasions reading some of my favourite books and I was intrigued by this title. I have a few Adele Parks sitting on my shelf, as yet unread, but this one seemed to draw me in more than the others.

The story is told from multiple narratives. We have Jo, Dean, Eddie and Jo's mum. I found this a little confusing at first which was strange because I love a book from more than one point of view, but once I worked out who each character was and how they related to one another, I was away! This book had some serious funny moments when it was Dean or Jo's turn to narrate. The really great thing was that they sometimes went over an event that had already happened form both points of view and sometimes that change in view was used to move the story forwards.

I loved the character of Jo, I thought she was so optimistic and became so outgoing and forward, whereas at the beginning of the book, she seemed a little self absorbed and introverted. She believes in love and I think that is admirable in this day and age. Dean, as well, has a character change ove the course of the book. He too is pretty self absorbed to begin with, and a little stuck p. once this exterior melts however, we see someone who is keen to do the right thing and is just as optimistic as Jo can be. The other two storylines kind of tie everything together and so I don't have any particularly strong feelings about these extra characters.

The book is part set in London, part in Chicago which I found really interesting because there aren't too many books set here, and whilst it isn't my favourite place in the world, it was good being able to pinpoint landmarks the characters were going to. The main settings are a an and a hospital aside fom these cities and that leave plenty of room for all sorts of things to happen, which the do! The storyline was partly your typical storyline of boy meets girl but with all sorts of twists and turns along the way that will keep you guessing. Although I guessed how this book would end, it was by no means predictable and definitely didn't spoil it for me.

Overall I really enjoyed this books and found myself makin excuses to listen to this, listening for four hours straight at one point! You will laugh, you may cry, but on the whole it is an extremely heart-warming tale that delivers a generous dose of optimism for today's cynical society that we live in. I will definitely be catching up on my other Adele Parks titles very soon!
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