I hate to give a book a bad review, I really do. Let’s get that cleared up.
But this book is dreadful. Really dreadful.
I, like I’m sure many others did, bought this after being impressed by the fact that Stephen King had endorsed it. Shame on me for not realising that it’s published by the same publisher who publishes King’s books, and guess what? King is now apparently lauding Lotz’s next novel too. Reeks of a shameless publicity stunt by a major publishing house looking to land millions of profits off the back of a bad book to recoup the reported six-figure sign on fee Lotz received for two novels. Just my opinion though.
The premise sounded great. Four plane crashes. Three survivors. All children. Paranormal and occult. What could go wrong? Well, basically, everything. It’s written as a book within a book, seen from the viewpoints of various people through supposed recordings, interviews, diaries etc.
This sounds great, but it was written by the wrong person. Put simply, there really is no story. The characters are flat and lifeless – largely stereotypes, from the camp wannabe actor through to the disillusioned teens, through to the ‘chavvy’ people calling everyone ‘love’ and the OTT preacher (the cult aspect was so painfully manufactured it almost hurt to read).
The multiple points of view sound mostly like they’re coming from the same person, i.e. the author. There’s not much distinction between character voice, and there’s so much minutiae that you want to skip skip skip over pages. The trouble is, it’s so slow moving, that it won’t allow you to do that. Even skimming this book feels like a lifetime. And that’s the point. Reading a book shouldn’t be a chore. It should be fun. This wasn’t. Most of the characters just blather on about things totally irrelevant to the story. But I can understand that, because there really is no story.
The language is very repetitive. The term ‘straight away’ probably accounts for about one quarter of the word count of the whole novel, and the way everyone was referred to with ‘that’ before their name: ‘that Monty’, ‘that Japanese boy’, ‘that Bobby’ is grating. Then you’ve got ‘one of those’. Constantly. ‘One of those feminists’, ‘one of those homosexuals’, ‘one of those Indian immigrants’, ‘one of those religious types’.
The child survivors of the plane crashes play largely no part whatsoever. As previously stated, the book is over 450 pages. It could have been done much better in 200 pages. I forced myself to read this to the end, in the mistaken hope that something would happen to turn everything around, but really, it was a lost cause after the first ten pages.
Very disappointing, and I certainly won’t be buying any more books by Sarah Lotz, whether Stephen King loves them, or not.