Reviewed from free ARC copy sent by the author in return for an impartial review.
The second in a series, the sequel, the follow-up album - there is aReviewed from free ARC copy sent by the author in return for an impartial review.
The second in a series, the sequel, the follow-up album - there is a stereotype of these all being troublesome, of not living up to their predecessors. I'm glad to say that this is not a problem for 'Inyoni Rocks', the middle child of Carmen-Shea Hepburn's Amanzimtoti trilogy. If anything, this novel supercedes 'The Ridge', her debut. It delves deeper, pushes harder, moves more painfully. Although told completely from Wayne's point of view, it gives a more full picture of Kyle Van Well, who seemed to be kept at a certain distance in the first novel. For me, this only whets the appetite for future books by this author, which is both a wonderful and terrible thing, as I can be very impatient when it comes to knowing how characters I love turn out.
Like the first, the landscape plays a huge role in this book. Without wishing to give any spoilers, the decision to make the Inyoni Rocks the central motif works spectacularly, illustrating Wayne's mental and emotional turmoil in exciting and heartbreaking detail.
This is a novel that made me feel ragged, torn, angry and overwhelmed by turns. I would say that it is escapism in its purest form - in that it took away my reality and led me fully into its world - except that the issues it raises are so acute and particularly topical. I can honestly say that it will be with me for a long time, and I will reread it again and again. And eagerly await the next in the series :)...more
On her website, Carmen-Shea Hepburn describes herself as 'writer: in wanderlust'. And it shows. This is a writer for whom place is just as important aOn her website, Carmen-Shea Hepburn describes herself as 'writer: in wanderlust'. And it shows. This is a writer for whom place is just as important as plot, and her love of travel sings through the narrative. This mixture of stories on the micro, human scale, combined with the greatness of landscapes is surely one of the main things that I will carry away with me from this book. I have never been to South Africa, let alone visited Hepburn's hometown where this story is set, but I have such a clear picture of Amanzimtoti - its beaches, its cliffs, its streets and its people - all drawn in my head through the experiences of her characters.
'The concrete wall of the saltwater pools was built almost to the edge of the short cliff, with only a small ledge of space left for a person to shuffle past. But you could manage if you were brave enough to try, sidling with your back pressed up against the rough concrete, toes curling over the slippery edge, screaming out in excited terror as the waves crashed up against the rock, spraying you wet as they tried to pluck you off.'
As for the plot itself, I was completely carried along by Wayne’s story. His relationships with his best friend and girlfriend felt true, while his anguish and self-torture over the return of Kyle made my heart ache for him. I will not give any spoilers here, as much of the enjoyment of reading this book is of experiencing Wayne’s emotions along with him, not knowing what’s to come or how he’s going to deal with it. Suffice to say that the portrayal of his pain and mental health feels totally believable, if a little overwrought at times.
If I had to make any criticism, there is the occasional overuse of the word ‘bodily’ (‘he shivered bodily’, ‘she trembled bodily’) which, while it certainly has the intended effect, might have been more effective had it been used less frequently. In addition, as this is the first in a trilogy, there are a lot of questions left unanswered, and the ending might feel a little abrupt. But this just makes me all the more eager to seek out the sequel. Can’t wait!...more
I was working in a bookshop when I read this, and I finished it while on holiday. I have a strange memory when it comes to books - even though sometimI was working in a bookshop when I read this, and I finished it while on holiday. I have a strange memory when it comes to books - even though sometimes the plot lines and characters may become blurred or even forgotten, I almost always can remember where I was and what I was doing while I read it. And I have some quite vivid memories about this book, even though it was over two years ago.
One of my colleagues saw that I had just started it, and said that in her opinion, the first 100 pages had been fantastic but after that it became mundane and predictable. For me, though, I found it exactly the other way around. I remember sitting on the tube (I was working in London, for my sins!) reading the first section, thinking 'I bet I know exactly what happens - it's so Dickensian, it's going to be like Oliver Twist etc etc etc.' But about 100 pages in, the narrative took a completely new turn that I had not expected and I was hooked. I read the rest of it in a couple of days. The atmosphere is totally overwhelming. Waters has created an utterly believable world, one you can see, hear and smell. Absolutely recommended....more
I'm a big believer in the power of the ending. I can get past a mediocre beginning if the rest of the book is good, but the ending is what I usually rI'm a big believer in the power of the ending. I can get past a mediocre beginning if the rest of the book is good, but the ending is what I usually remember most. A good ending can make up for any earlier failings of the book, and a bad ending can spoil the whole experience for me even if the rest of the book is excellent.
So it was with this book. I was all ready to give it 5 stars - it is entertaining, makes you think, has characters you want to invest time and emotion in, and it's a book that remains with you. But the ending just felt a little too much like a cop-out. I just couldn't relate to it. So, unfortunately, this 'only' gets 4 stars. ...more
There's not much to say about this that hasn't already been said. Personally, I find it a good introduction to Jane Austen, but she wrote other booksThere's not much to say about this that hasn't already been said. Personally, I find it a good introduction to Jane Austen, but she wrote other books which are better - Emma or Persuasion for example....more