Author: Rosamund Lupton
Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / Supernatural / Out-of-Body Experience / School Fire / Arson / Mother-Daughter Relationships)
Publisher/Publication Date: Crown (4/24/2012)
Source: TLC Book Tours
Rating: Disliked / Unfinished
Did I finish?: I didn't!
One-sentence summary: A mother, fighting for her own life after racing into a burning school to save her daughter, attempts to solve the mystery and save her family.
Do I like the cover?: Yes, although I don't think it captures the story as the victims aren't elementary school kids.
First line: I couldn't move, not even my little finger or a flicker of an eye.
Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow if you like domestic thrillers and unusual narrative styles.
Why did I get this book?: I've heard nothing but good things about Lupton's previous novel Sisters.
Review: I think if you're a fan of Lovely Bones but want something less inspirational in tone, then this might be your book. Unfortunately, despite my love of the woo-woo and supernatural/paranormal/just-plain-odd, I really didn't click with this book's conceit or the narrator. I made it about one hundred pages and quit, daunted by the remaining 300.
There are a few reasons why this didn't work for me, starting with the heroine, Grace. Or maybe it was the writing style first, and then Grace. Told by Grace's disembodied soul while she's in a coma at the hospital following a fire at the school her children attend, she recounts to her husband everything that happened following the fire. As a result, the narrative takes this weird second person POV, 'you' this and 'you' that (which, to be honest, made me wonder if there would be a We Need To Talk About Kevin-esque twist at the end).
Despite being in an incorporeal state, Grace decides to solve the mystery of who or what caused the school fire, which involves eavesdropping, watching television, and thinking back on various events while floating around the hospital with her comatose, disembodied daughter. She admires her family (all pretty and smart and dreamy and sweet) and is pretty smug about her life. Maybe she does more but as I said, I didn't get far into the story.
Scanning GoodReads, it seems opinions are pretty mixed, with some folks who love this one and others who don't. I think it really is matter of whether the writing catches your fancy, so don't take my word necessarily -- you can read an extract at Lupton's website and see if it clicks. Be sure to follow the blog tour for Afterwards for more opinions and reviews!
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