Top critical review
Disappointing read despite the interesting concept (2.5 stars)
on 21 January 2016
Just as 18 year old Rachel and her group of friends are preparing to go to University tragedy strikes, killing Rachel's best friend Jimmy and leaving her scarred both physically and emotionally. Five years later and she is living but a half life, having broken up with her old boyfriend Matt, in a dead-end job, crippled still by Jimmy's loss. Then after an accident Rachel wakes up in hospital to find her life drastically altered; gone is her scar, she has her dream-career and is engaged to Matt, and most freakishly of all Jimmy is still alive! The last five years as she has known them have been re-written it seems; yet whilst she should be thrilled with this new perfect life, Rachel is unable to accept it, desperately seeking answers and willing those around her to believe that she is not going mad. What is the reason behind this bizarre change in events?
For me the book started off quite well, capturing the dynamics of Rachel's group of friends and the interplay between them all, before throwing a curveball in the form of Jimmy's death, and then forwarding five years to the point of the so-called fracturing of time. By this point I was invested enough in wanting to know how Atkins planned on wrapping it all up and explaining everything to stick with it to the end; and certainly the central premise was an interesting and unusual one. I did correctly guess the ending, which was rather bitter-sweet; some might call it a cop out, but I actually thought it was the right path to choose.
Unfortunately I found the actual writing and characters themselves too one-dimensional to really enjoy the book. It read to me as Young Adult Fiction, which I have to say is not my usual genre; and so I can't particularly make any fair comparisons with others of its like.
Atkins' descriptions of a group of people in their early twenties did not ring genuine; they all seemed far too mature in their attitudes and mannerisms, and can you really be a detective inspector at the age of twenty-three? Likewise coming from a medical background, her vague allusions to Rachel's headaches and her previous accident made no sense, nor her descriptions of the medical team's responses to Rachel's presumed mental health problems (people aren't just reflexively tranquilised in this day and age).
Also for Kindle readers, the actual story ends at 80%; so the last chapter was sprung as rather a surprise on me being as I had thought there was still another 20% of the story to go. Though given that by that stage I was struggling rather to continue ploughing on, it might have been a good thing.
Overall I have to say this was rather disappointing despite the interesting premise, and a below average read for me personally.