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on 14 June 2011
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] [1995] [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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VINE VOICEon 28 March 2012
This is the story of Zoe and Jake who are caught in a avalanche in the Pyrenees. After they manage to dig themselves out they return to the ski resort where they are staying only to find it deserted. As they explore their new environment, they are unable to contact the outside world or find anyone else. And as the story progresses, things become a bit stranger.

The early scenes in the book are pretty well done. The descriptions are vivid and the situation believable. And as the tale unfolds I was pretty wrapped up in what was going to happen. The problem I had was that the ending didn't provide a satisfactory conclusion for me. And that coloured my view of the whole book, hence the 3 stars. A decent ending would definitely have upped it to 4. I'm not giving anything away here - it's an ok read and not too demanding in terms of prose and length. I'd maybe read another of his, but wouldn't rush out based on this.
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on 13 January 2016
Lovely, surprised it isn't a movie already. Great twist at the end, didn't see it coming.
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on 11 June 2015
Just brilliant, as always, he takes you on a roller coaster of a ride.
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VINE VOICEon 28 December 2010
This book is a spooky tale of a couple who get caught in an avalanche on a skiing trip. After freeing themselves from the snow, they return to their holiday village to find it deserted. It seems that the whole place has been evacuated, possibly because of the threat of further avalanches. Unfortunately, these two people have been left behind. Initially they enjoy the pece and quiet and revel in being the only people around. After a while, though, they decide to attempt to leave themselves but each attempt is doomed to failure and they end up back where they started. Then, a series of strange events starts to unravel and they begin to wonder if all is not as it seems. An excellent read, this book is potentially being turned into a film and boy will it make a good one. Each time you think you've sussed it, something else happens to make you think again. The whole family has read the book and we have all really enjoyed it.
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VINE VOICEon 12 November 2011
Jake and Zoe, two people deeply in love are on a skiing holiday in the beautiful village of Saint Bernard en Haut in the French Pyrenees, whilst up on the ski slopes they both get caught in a huge avalanche which buries Zoe alive. She manages after a few minutes to wiggle herself free and finally escapes from her snowbound cocoon to be reunited with Jake who mysteriously also survived the avalanche. They are both shaken by their ordeal and make their way back down to the village but find themselves utterly alone in a world where time seems to have slowed or stopped but they both seem alive and well. Telephone lines ring and no one answers, TV and Radio are nothing but empty static, it is as if the whole world has disappeared in a flash! Over the next few days they live in their hotel eating food from the kitchens and exploring the village. They then try to escape the village by skiing over the mountain but frustratingly every time they try they find themselves back in the same place. Zoe begins to see strange figures outside their hotel and witnesses people arriving and then disappearing which Jake cannot see at all...

I absolutely loved this book, some of the paragraphs read like poetry, so beautiful and descriptive. It keeps you guessing right up to the very end with a very emotional ending which will live with me for a long time.
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on 11 March 2011
I have never read anything before by Graham Joyce and I feel like I've discovered a new author. What a fantastic read. I purchased this book for our march book club read and I'm so glad my friend and fellow book club member choose it-other wise I would never ever have purchased it. Don't want to give the plot away or add in any spoilers just that its a thriller, love story, page turner all the way through. Its a beautiful quick easy read (I finshed it on a 9hour flight!) and its one of the best books I've read this year. Its one of those that I'm now telling everyone about so that hopefully word of mouth will make it as popular as the novel one day has become. What ever genre your in to this book will suit all age groups, tastes and both sexes. Please do purchase it you won't be disapppointed.
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on 22 October 2015
A really thoughtful moving book.
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on 7 July 2011
Zoe & Jake are caught in an avalanche, whilst on a ski-ing holiday in the French Pyrenees. Managing to dig themselves out, they head back to their hotel, only to find it and the village deserted, though the power is still on. They try to leave the town but every road they take brings them straight back to where they started. And then Zoe starts to see other people. This is a fantastic book, no doubt about it, told in a brisk, easy style that hides the cumulative force being built up over the pages. The characters - we only really get to see Zoe & Jake - are well-drawn (though I could have done with some more "he said, she said" in places) and completely believable and when they have interaction with their fathers, the sequences are incredibly powerful. A ghost story that isn't really about ghosts, this examines love and what it means to both you and the people around you and the ending, I'm not ashamed to say, brought a tear to my eye. Highly recommended.
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on 5 March 2011
I loved this, beautiful prose and poignant from the start.

The characters and the relationship between Jake and Zoe is nicely crafted and you get a sense of their loneliness as they make sense of the situation they find themselves. As things start to change and the reasoning they applied to their situation doesn't seem to quite fit any more I did guess why...though desperately hoping I was wrong!

I shed tears at the end of this and I never ever cry at books or movies!
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