Thursday, 15 June 2017
#AfterIveGone #LindaGreen #Review
This is the first Linda Green book I have read (despite having a few on my kindle patiently waiting their turn) and unlike the reviewer Green refers to in her acknowledgements, it will not be my last! I can't understand why you wouldn't want to read more of her novels? After I've Gone takes a very contemporary character and places them in a confusing situation, then adds a few more layers of tension and drama that results in a very readable story raising enough issues and concerns to resonate with the reader without overwhelming them. I would describe it as a domestic thriller and also perfect for readers who enjoy commercial fiction.
So what is it about? The protagonist is Jess Mount. Jess is a very likeable, endearing, unpretentious character who is constantly putting herself down through sarcastic humour and derisory comments. Her voice is strong, funny, honest and believable. I smiled at her observations about other people as much as the ones about herself:
"The woman in front of me has her right arm turned out and a bulging tote bag hanging from it. I resist the temptation to tell her she looks like a Barbie doll that has had its arm twisted the wrong way by a little boy."
I also liked how contemporary the novel is - obviously using Facebook immediately puts it in the here and now, but also the references to the celebrity deaths puts it in the very recent present. It was also an interesting decision to include these time sensitive details by the author as it reflects more about the characters and the social context.
So, back to the story! One day Jess opens up her Facebook page to find a chilling and unnerving thread. Her timeline has skipped forward 18 months and all the posts are about her death....... What on earth has happened? Is it a joke? Is is a very malicious online prank? Or is it a glimpse into the future?
And when you realise it may well be a glimpse into the future, what affect does that have on you and the decisions you make? Particularly when you have just met the man of your dreams and life seems to be better than ever. How can it possibly end up with her death?
I thought this was the most interesting aspect of the novel. As Jess continues through each day, she finds herself questioning every interaction she has with her friends and family. It's really interesting to see how this extra insight she has - and the extra knowledge about what her father and best friend are saying about her - affects how she handles them in the present. And what I liked the most is the dilemma she faces when she realises that actually by changing the course of her apparent destiny, could unwittingly mean she ends up without the one thing she as found herself in love with.
This is a quirky angle regarding social media and a slightly different way of incorporating Facebook posts, threads, private messaging and photos in a thriller. It works. I wasn't sure about the use of actual photos of the people leaving the posts - but only because I like to build a picture of the character in my head but again, it was effective in the context of this novel. It was also a good contrast to have these small sections written by the other characters as they comment on events in the future written in a very different style to the rest of the book which is in the more traditional narrative form.
Despite it's light and breezy style and Jess's wry and down to earth voice, the novel is full of more serious issues. There is an incredible amount about friendship, about the relationship between parents and their children. There is also something much darker that I can't reveal here without spoiling it for other readers. This is all well handled by Green and makes for a dramatic climax and escalation of tension in the final section of the book.
This is a good read. It didn't take me long. I liked the characters and I liked the premise. For anyone looking for something to pack in their suitcase this summer, this will fit well!
After I've Gone is published by Quercus on June 15th 2017.
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