In the darkness of a vast cave system, cut off from the world for millennia, blind creatures hunt by sound. Then there is light, there are voices, and they feed... Swarming from their prison, they multiply and thrive. To scream, even to whisper, is to summon death.
Deaf for many years, Ally knows how to live in silence. Now, it is her family's only chance of survival. To leave their home, to shun others, to find a remote haven where they can sit out the plague. But will it ever end? And what kind of world will be left?
I love writing, reading, triathlon, real ale, chocolate, good movies, occasional bad movies, and cake.
I was born in London in 1969, lived in Devon until I was eight, and the next twenty years were spent in Newport. My wife Tracey and I then did a Good Thing and moved back to the country, and we now live in the little village of Goytre in Monmouthshire with our kids Ellie and Daniel. And our dog, Blu, who is the size of a donkey.
I love the countryside ... I do a lot of running and cycling, and live in the best part of the world for that.
I've had loads of books published in the UK, USA, and around the world, including novels, novellas, and collections. I write horror, fantasy, and now thrillers, and I've been writing as a living for over 8 years. I've won quite a few awards for my original fiction, and I've also written tie-in projects for Star Wars, Alien, Hellboy, The Cabin in the Woods, and 30 Days of Night.
A movie's just been made of my short story Pay the Ghost, starring Nicolas Cage and Sarah Wayne Callies. There are other projects in development, too.
I had heard that Netflix was coming out with a film adaptation of the book, so I got a jump on it by reading the book first. I’m so glad I did, because the book is one of the best apocalyptic stories I’ve ever read. The Netflix movie… err, not so much. I rated the movie a 3, but the book is an easy 5.
The book alternates between third-person POV, and first-person, with the first-person parts being told through the POV of Ally, a deaf teenager living in the UK. The news and internet is awash with stories of a strange new species of carnivorous flying creatures that was released from a massive underground cavern system during a documentary expedition. The creatures breed and multiply their numbers exponentially fast, and mature to adulthood within days. They have a voracious appetite, and razor sharp piranha-like, teeth. They’re each about the size of a cat, but attack in swarms that quickly reduce animals and humans to bones. Within weeks of their discovery, entire countries have been ravaged, and the world faces an extinction level event.
Having evolved underground, the creatures are blind, and use sound to navigate and target their prey the way bats do. So the only way to keep from being eaten is to avoid making any sounds. I know it sounds a lot like “A Quiet Place,” but the difference was getting to see how everything comes about. I love apocalyptic stories that show how the breakdown happens, and “The Silence” does it perfectly.
Pretty good mindless monster apocalypse horror. I found this to be a decently entertaining read, and it was page turning in the way Bird Box was, with a different story/same feel to it. Of the two books, though, I thought Bird Box was the better one.
My main complaint was that the story here just...ends. I know some people thought the end of Bird Box was a bit too tidy (not me...I'm OK with tidy!), but this book had sort of the opposite problem by not giving any resolution at all.
Or maybe the lack of resolution is meant to signify that all the characters perish off page and I'm just too optimistic to read it that way? Apparently I have done that before, so it is a real possibility here.
This is a beautifully written tale that was incredibly hard to put down. I especially loved young, deaf Ally. She had the perfect balance of courage and insecurity and Mr. Lebbon intertwined the two perfectly making her human (some book characters are too unbelievable) and relatable. In fact, I loved all of Ally's family. These are people you can't help but root for and hope that they find safety and security from the horrible monsters that have been unleashed in the world.
I really don't know how to rate this book. I was so looking forward to it, and I did like it. At least at first.. Because it just got more and more disappointing. Like I might not have photographic memory, but this book is SOOOOO repetitive.. And not even about important stuff.. It's all kinds of random nonsense being repeated without adding anything but annoyance. Then there's the main characters - the 14 year old girl and the middle aged man who seem to have pretty much identical voices... There's some pretty lame predicaments, the worst involving some really bad choices and a dog.. The fortune death of a little old lady because the family needed her house, And then there's an abrupt ending, as well as a short time period - about a month. And a stupid little sex scene. Never enough signing, or showing for that matter.. But there's SOOOO much telling.. Really the dad just never stops, and the daughter repeats it, and then the dad repeats it, and then... Also it's written in first and sometimes third tense.. For no apparent reason.
If the idea is to follow the story with a sequel I won't be biting. I doubt I will ever read anything by this author again. And while all the praises covering the book might sell more copies, I would've recommended going for more editing instead.. Unless of course it's supposed to be overly repetitive...
The weirdest thing is, it started out somewhat close to a 4 star read, then the middle part dropped to average at best, but still it might yet have turned into something decent, I actually expected it would, but then the inner workings of the narrators made it worse and worse, and "the story itself" didn't really do much either. Fortunately it ended.. Who cares if it was premature.
I might review properly later on, and include the things I actually liked about the story, but to be honest I might also forget about ever reading it. I really liked the idea of it though. Only I wish I had spent my money on something else.
To sum it up: it's sloppy, and I don't appreciate the style.
There’s a growing trend of survival stories featuring the loss of one of the main senses is used as an aid. With the 2018 movie A Quiet Place and to a lesser extent Bird Box (that was also adapted by Netflix).
Where The Silence differs is the use of technology as a news source to gain information. With main protagonist teenager Ally having lost her hearing in a car accident, by using her iPad she is able to gain information and still feels in contact with the world.
During a transmitted caving expedition in Northern Moldova that unleashes strange flying creatures referred to as “vesps”. With news of them heading across Europe and towards England the Internet is awash with rumours. This book taps into the current trends of wanting instant information even if it’s not factually correct.
Even though the premise didn’t feel entirely original, this novel is very relevant to today’s readers.
I’ve added the movie to my Netflix list but wanted to read the book first, I’m not sure they will be able to portray social media fears on screen - but I’m looking forward to giving it watch.
It was certainly a weird experience. I had a hard time trying to think what I was thinking.
I don’t know what exactly it was that I felt for the book, it’s bit of a remorse, among other things for sure. From the overall synopsis, it sounds somehow like an indistinguishable product that you may have a hard time recognizing differently; for, firstly, the story of an apocalyptic world with the survivors under the fear of an abominable creature that hunts by sound, sounds supercilious, and less genuine as you try to get sucked into the maelstrom. And coming to an irrelevant point, I appreciate that the novel has a title appertaining to the plot, but it was a hard time finding the book from the browser when the title is so similar to several famous works, say for instance, Shūsaku Endō’s, which was again adapted by Martin Scorsese.
If I get to be as honest as possible, at first I thought the author was a fan of those horror movies involving cult brotherhoods, who after watching The Quiet Place, thought of commingling the two major plots, add a pinch of peppermint in the form of Ally and her emotional turmoil, and served it camouflaged…it’s really so similar! However, it came out in 2015, so a sigh of relief!
It does one thing better, though; and that’s to show how it all began. A story for the origin of the pterosaur-like “vesps”, which most apocalyptic tales ignore as a secondary issue. Of course, they shouldn’t…and I liked the addition of the cult led by The Reverend, nothing new, definitely, but okayish in a old-wine-in-a-new-bottle kind of way. Mr. Lebbon kept it quite simple, and that’s likeable. You can feel your anticipation build up quite a few times, and mostly they come off in a good way. The emotional quotient is quite well-off too, but other than that, I don’t feel it’s that good. I however thank Netflix, had they not made the adaptation, and cast Stanley Tucci, I won’t have thought of reading the novel before watching the movie. One suggestion: don’t watch it if you’ve read the book. It’s harmful in an identical way to Malerman's Bird Box.
3.5 stars rounded up. Deaf, since she was very young due to a car crash that killed her paternal grandparents, sixteen-year-old Ally, is used to a silent world. She has her hearing dog, Otis, who’s been trained to let her know when a phone is ringing, there’s someone at the door, or if the house is on fire. She has her ten-year-old brother, Jude, and her parents, Huw and Kelly, as well as Lynne, her maternal grandmother, now in her seventies, living with them for the time being. Ally has always followed current events closely. While her friends check out social media, she’s checking out the BBC. Whenever things begin to go wrong, Ally sees just how it all unfolds on her iPad. Cavers exploring massive underground caves in Moldova are begin filmed by the Discovery Channel. As the cavers break through a barricade, they allow creatures, undisturbed for millennia to escape, wreaking havoc and carnage at the cave site. The facts about the creatures will slowly leak onto the internet over the course of the next couple of days as the creatures set off across Europe in a feeding frenzy. Long before they arrive at Ally’s house in England, Huw has mobilized the family to move to a place in Red Rock in Scotland, an old home his parents used to own, a remote place in the country away from all the noise, which attracts the “vesps.” This is a horror novel about their journey and the events that transpire along the way.
If you think the premise sounds a little over the top, check out this article from livescience.com that says 850 previously unknown species were discovered in underground caves and caverns in Australia, https://www.livescience.com/7902-850-..., or this one about Movile Cave in Romania that has an ecosystem that’s been isolated for over 5 million years, http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/201509.... Clearly, Lebbon has taken a fascinating premise and winnowed it into possibility.
Lebbon’s characters are what makes this such a good and exciting story. I watched the movie first and curiosity then put me onto the book. Stanley Tucci plays Huw, who can best be described as tentative. Trusting his best friend Glen to provide leadership for his family, Huw admires in Glen all the qualities of strength he does not see in himself. Lebbon will explore themes that frequently pop up in apocalyptic novels, What will you do to survive? What will the cost be to you as a person, to your family, to your idea of community? What will remain?
I liked the family interactions, the love that is seen between the family members. Huw and his wife, Kelly, have grown light years apart, but the crisis will draw them together as they try to protect their children. The children become older in a rush, and Lynne will make a pivotal decision. I watched the movie first, but recommend that the book be read before the movie, if you enjoy suspense.
'The Silence' is a remarkably terrifying novel which reminded me somewhat of 'Bird Box'. The character development is incredible and I quickly became invested in the plight of this family and all its members. As a result, the horrific losses and fight to survive were also that much more intense and heartrending. I do not want to get into the details of the plot and give away spoilers so I will end by saying this was my first Tim Lebbon novel and it most certainly will not be the last. Narrators Marisa Calin and Ralph Lister put some serious high gear fear in me as they seamlessly brought each character's thoughts and intense emotions to life in my imagination.
Pretty good apocalyptic story by Lebbon with a rather unique premise to add to the genre. A vast new cave system is discovered in Eastern Europe, sealed off from the surface for perhaps millions of years. When scientists and explores open the cave system (live on the Discovery channel!) some flying beasts emerge, about the size of small cats; although they are blind, they are very, very hungry!
What I found most interesting in this were the creatures themselves; plausible, and very apocalypse than with some horrible virus or some big rock hitting the Earth from space. That stated, this quickly turned into a rather tropy standard-- small group of survivors seeking a safe place, harassed by rogue humanity ("without three squares a day, society turns into savagery") and of course, the beasts. The twist Lebbon gives us concerns the lead-- Ally, a young teen who lost her hearing in a car accident years ago and now she and her family all know how to sign, e.g., communicate without speaking. For you see, as the title alludes, silence is the only defense against the beasts. What we end up with is one family facing various trials and tribulations on their quest for safety.
Usually what makes or breaks such a tale are the characters; someone to root for. Lebbon does a decent job here with Ally, but nothing special. The addition of many references to social media was kinda fun, but will make this feel dated pretty soon. In any case, a decent 'airport' read. 3 buggy stars!
I think Hollywood (or the prospects thereof) has ruined Tim Lebbon.
This is another action-movie novel much like his previous, Coldbrook. So similar, in fact, that the plots could be swapped pretty easily without much alteration. Last time it was ravenous zombies from an alternate Earth, now it's ravenous flying things from deep within the earth. Another survival story, very linear, very simplistic, with minimal character development.
And characters acting stupidly. Why in the world did the family decide it was a good idea to pick up and go on the road when this was happening? Did they not think everyone else was going to be doing the same thing? Why didn't they stay in their home, as advised? It may not be totally impervious, but it's a far better shelter than an automobile in any case. And easier to keep things quiet.
Oh dear god, what a train wreck. I wanted to like this, but…. There are many reasons why this book doesn’t succeed even though I’m only rating it against itself. I’ll explain why this one truly is scary, not for the reasons the writer would have wanted. All from now is spoiler I guess, though if this book was milk it’d be long since curdled.
Narrative Shifting Madness This story has two narrators. First there’s the deaf main character, whose deafness serves as nothing but a prop to extend lengthy unnecessary expository scenes. She tells the story in the first person. The second is her father, who has next to no characterization except that he can strangle his deaf daughter’s dog to death when it’s too noisy. His parts are rendered in the third person. Why? Adds tension or interest? No.
Exposition Nightmare The entire book is told. Honest. The creature stuff for over half the book is experienced by the characters via TV or the internet. I despise social media, mass media and our internet-driven society which sucks the life out of any topic. In this story the horror is often delivered through fucking twitter and the BBC. Character wants to be a journalist when she grows up and she knows nothing about independent research.
Repetitive Stress Disorder The incessant repeating of ideas used to fill out the story is intolerable. Yes, yes, the characters have nightmares about the accident that left the main character deaf. We know already that the mother and father have lost that loving feeling and that the father is saddened by it. Over and over the same thoughts go through the girl’s head almost verbatim each time.
The Meaningless Silence Sometimes the creatures are attracted by the smallest sound. Sometimes dad has to kill the dog because it’s too loud. Other times talking, whispering and bashing around other creatures doesn’t attract their attention. The whole point it appears, of having a deaf main character is that she’s uhm… more quiet? She talks a lot throughout the story and she wouldn’t know how much noise she’s making in general.
The Stupidity of Man I don’t know where to begin with this one. The family gets ludicrously carjacked and lose everything right away. The father is a weak moron (see Repetitive Stress Disorder) who reminds us constantly how his family is everything to him, yet never protects them. The cult who cut out their own tongues because sound brings the creatures. Who’s gonna tell them that they still make sounds even without a tongue? The family driving in two cars so we can have a scene where the family friend suffers a pointless painful death. The parents going off to pork leaving their children vulnerable to the cult. I’m nitpicking I’m sure.
Miscellaneous Horrors The creatures are defeated by the cold. They come from freaking underground caves, but sure let’s go with cold. The creatures’ reproduction rates increase because, because… Bad writing. Gestation and maturation rates won’t speed up no matter how compatible the climate. The family uses sign language for their deaf daughter when it suits them. They often talk so she can’t even see their lips. The deaf girl trained her dog to be a helper animal in one month. And so on and so on, I’m outta here.
Even as I type now I have it on silent. No clicking of the key strokes. I am in eminent danger. Something is spreading.
In silence there is safety. Soon a film of this desolate situation will be streamed into homes that still exist that are not affected by these malevolent creatures. Millions have seen the trailer and already get idea what awaits. Resist and read on then watch if you are still around and learn how to survive it if there is to be surviving. This tale successfully leaving the reader with anxiety and trepidation of the impeding perilous onslaught. Get your running shoes ready! But stop, be still so still don’t say a word, when you see them within distance.
“Stay quiet. Stay alive.”
“Everything was changing, everything was going bad.”
Some rules I have learnt of and survive still.
“Consider what you have in your life that might produce noise: —All electronic devices should be muted or switched to silent: TVs, phones, tablets, personal music devices, satnavs, GPS, digital watches, etc. —All medical warning devices should be deactivated: medication reminders, hearing aids, etc. —Babies should be comforted at all times. Do your best to prevent your child from crying. If you cannot prevent it, try to remove yourself from other people, somewhere as secure and safe as possible. —Do not attempt to start any vehicle engines, generators, or other mechanical equipment. —Pets should be silenced.” (Excerpt The Silence)
Unleashed upon the earth a cacophony of entities spiralling to cataclysmic causation and chaos. Alongside the rapidly changing situation the prose garbs your immediate attention and hooking you in traversing forward with the same force and urgency with one family’s need for safety and survival away from this emerging threat to civilisation.
The author careful has you in the flow of the tale as the tale progresses he successfully builds empathy at one with reader with the plight of this family and you will have an invested interest in their survival.
THE SILENCE, by Tim Lebbon has a lot of people asking if it is like the novel BIRD BOX. Having read both novels, I can honestly say that the two are completely different. THE SILENCE takes us to the UK BEFORE some world-changing events occur. We have the opportunity to meet the main characters in their day-to-day settings--and therefore learn about their normal lives--before the mayhem begins.
The only difference in the family that this novel features is that the oldest daughter, Ally, was in an accident years before and is now deaf. She communicates by reading lips, and sign language. While this supposedly gives them an advantage in a world overrun by "things" that hone in on sound, I still don't see it as THAT much of an advantage. Yes, they can communicate silently, but if startled, she (and the rest of the family) are still able to scream, etc., without thinking.
I don't want to ruin the story for others, so I won't go into details about the new "threat", but I do want to add that Lebbon did a fantastic job in this area! He brought something "new" and interesting to the genre, and gave us only the information that the characters had. This tactic meant that we were "closer" to them, as we journeyed alongside them without the advantage of addition knowledge. In the end, this was a story of one particular family's decisions and adaptions while they tried to survive the new threat unleashed.
The origin of the threat also had enough to give that moment of "what if?", as we really don't know all there is to know about parts of our planet.
An excellent thriller with horror elements in abundance.
The Silence is a good apocalyptic novel by one of my favorite authors. Tim Lebbon has shown that he is equally adept at writing both horror and fantasy and he writes for adults and the young adult club as well. This one seems more appropriate for the young adult crowd than some of his other works.
The Silence is a different take on the end of the world scenario. It involves spelunking, flying lizards, and lots of people dying quickly. Ally the young deaf girl is the character that I liked the best along with her father Ruw. I enjoyed this fast read but it really will be forgettable. Not much happens that is out of the ordinary for the genre.
Tim Lebbon is one of my favorite authors and I will read anything that he writes. This is a decent book that will probably be enjoyed more by the young adult crowd.
I think it's safe to say I've taken spelunking off my bucket list.
The Silence was a wild ride into the apocalypse. Very cinematic with great characters, scary monsters and even more frightening humans. The Reverend will haunt my dreams. I would recommend this highly! 4.5 stars rounded up.
Ancient cave opened. Vesps (Blind flying creature) got out from there and breeding countlessly.You can't make noise or else vesps will eat you.Ally,a deaf girl,trying to save their family and headed to the north.
The book was freaking horrifying. Loved the characters and the plot.
Cheers to Lebbon for writing another apocalyptic story that sets the genre on its ear and plows forward. After loving his inter-dimensional zombie epic, Coldbrook, I was very excited to see him impress me with something equally as unique. For the most part he succeeded. The Silence adds sound as a new element of horror, creating an apocalyptic invasion of deadly vesps, a bird that reminded me of pterodactyls, which hunts purely by sound because they've evolved within a large cave for who knows how long.
Lebbon has a strong cast of characters that I immensely enjoyed meeting and wanting to see survive. The story is told between the viewpoints of the husband/father, Huw and his daughter, Ally. Huw and his wife have been enduring for a long time on the brink of losing their marriage. This grey area between the happiness marriage starts with and the hopelessness that ends in divorce kept the arc with Huw and his wife as one that hooked me from early on and ended as one of the better aspects of the story.
Ally's tale was equally as endearing, from both her perspective and her father's. His love for his daughter and family was a great reason for my affection to this story. Ally was in a car accident years ago that took her grandparent's lives--Huw's parents--and left her deaf and suffering from memory loss of the event. Her deafness was more than just one way of increasing the fear of silence; it put us in a new perspective to seeing the world flip upside down into chaos. That change in her life prior to the vesp outbreak and how it built her character to handle the events to come made her one of the strongest characters in the book.
The writing is very professional and includes social media excerpts that make this apocalypse more lifelike than most, and while the story is very good, it never quite broke the ceiling into a five star. We have the adventure from getting the family to finding safety with a handful of shocking twists in between, but there's something about the plot that didn't match the potential that I was hoping for. The ending wasn't a knockout, even though I was pretty satisfied with how the character relationships concluded. I'd put this one high on my list of apocalyptic thrillers, but it's probably not in my top ten.
Omg I am so pissed! I just want to throw this book right now. The story was perfect up until the last few pages and it just abruptly ended. I absolutely despise books with open endings! It wouldn't be so bad if this was the beginning of a series but everything I've seen points toward this being a stand-alone so it looks like I'm going to be left high & dry! I deducted a whole star for that shitty ending. If you don't mind open endings, give it a try. It's a great book otherwise. The story is basically about "something" that has been unleashed into the world and now everyone is fighting to stay alive. The story follows a family through their ordeal and what they go through to try and survive. It reminds me a little of Bird Box which was an awesome book too but Bird Box had a much better ending.
3.5 Stars This was an engaging, page turning horror novel. From the synopsis, it sounded a lot like the Quiet Place movie, but the story was still it's own. I think I would have enjoyed this one more if I was a bigger fan of apocalyptic fiction.
A couple of years before the release of A Quiet Place, Tim Lebbon gifted the horror community with his novel, The Silence. Exploration of a previously isolated cave ecosystem in Eastern Europe culminates in the emergence of a predatory species that spreads across the continent like a plague. Blind from evolving in a lightless environment, the creatures--dubbed vesps--attack anything that produces sound. In a noisy world dotted with population centers, humanity doesn't have long to prepare for the nightmare speeding across the skies. The focus on Ally, a teenager who has been deaf since an accident that took the lives of her paternal grandparents in early childhood, is a nice touch. Lebbon tackles the challenges associated with hearing loss with excellent detail, providing both Ally and her family with backgrounds and relationships that feel more than two-dimensional. Even with their well-established history of communicating in silence, their struggles as the family attempts to reach a secluded--and hopefully safe--location in the Northern UK are dramatic commentaries on how difficult silence is for human beings. Lebbon spins a tense and harrowing tale that explores the highs and lows of human nature and our capacity to adapt to conditions beyond our control. The only problem I have with The Silence is that it ends, and there doesn't appear to be a sequel forthcoming. Be sure not to gasp as you're reading this one. Whatever you do, remain silent. I was satisfied with the narration provided by Marisa Calin and Ralph Lister, though I felt like Marisa's performance stood out as being a bit more authentic across the board, while Ralph's narration was most exceptional with the dialogue from Hugh but lacking where the female characters were concerned. Overall, it was still a top-tier audiobook narration.
I enjoyed this “end of the world as we know it” tale more than expected. Well crafted with likable characters.
The main character is Ally, deaf after an accident. That she and her family can communicate with sign language becomes an advantage when murderous bat-like creatures unknown to science are let lose from an isolated cave in Moldova.
“The vesps” as they are called spread like a plague and procreate at alarming rate. They hunt by sound. Ally and her family decide to get out of town before it’s too late. But maybe they waited too long nonetheless.
I haven't read a thriller that's grabbed me quite as quickly or thoroughly as "The Silence" did since I read Blake Crouch's "Run" years ago. Like Crouch's work, the cause of our potentially apocalyptic premise is only given a light brushing over. An unearthed cave in Moldova has brought forth flying creatures that have lived for millenniums in an isolated and endemic environment. Like bats, but larger, they hunt only by sound.
Oh yeah, and they multiply by laying eggs in the creatures (humans) they eat.
That hatch within hours.
And that become fully grown within days.
Such is the premise behind Lebbon's work. Now, before I get started, there are some flaws to this story that require examination, the largest of which you'll either get over (and thereby love the story) or become hopelessly jaded (and hate this novel). I won't go into any spoilers here, but just know that people talking is about the extent of the noises that summon these "vesps," as they are called. Walking through brush and forests, the noise of footsteps or gasps or clothes rubbing or any other type of "natural" noise that occurs from just breathing ... all of these are completely ignored by the author. Yes, that's a lot of missed opportunities. His idea of noise stems from speech, made even more manifest by a deaf girl leading her family when in reality, she'd probably be the most likely to make a sound without knowing it.
Now, get over that, and you'll love this novel. Great family-centered drama, impossible moral decisions, plenty of scares, and two scenes, in particular, that will stay with me for a long time to come. It's a poignant showcase of how quickly our modern lives would break down and fall into chaos should something unforeseen and unexpected occur.
Despite its flaws, this was one of the funnest reads I've tackled in awhile. Definitely check it out. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Why did I wait so long to read this book? It's terrific. Wonderful characters you root for, suspense, horror. It starts out with a quiet creeping dread. Slowly building to a fight for life. The type of story you find yourself wondering what you would do to survive. What more could you want from a book?
In this book, the deaf character is Ally, 14 years old, deafened by a car accident at age 9.
This representation is so bad as to give Ruby Dixon's Book 8 of Ice Planet Barbarians a run for its money. There's hardly anything redeemable here.
Upon beginning my read, it was immediately apparent that Lebbon has never seen a signing person in his life. "Mum" clearly indicates a British family, who would be signing BSL, which uses a lot of two-handed signs. The sign for "mother" is two-handed, and Jude pokes his left hand through a doorway to sign with that one hand, "I'll tell Mum you swore." Some people do sign with one hand, I know, but not without context. There's no grammatical context to Jude's statement at all because we can't see his facial expression or body language! You would never catch actual signers doing that because we know comprehension is severely impacted, and we would have no way of knowing the person we're signing to is even looking at the hand! Seriously? This is page two of the book.
I immediately hated it and had little faith in the accuracy or respectfulness of the deaf representation. And I was right, because I was offended and annoyed at many instances of this book.
A few pages later we learn that although the Andrews family all learned "sign language" (presumably BSL, though it's never named in the book), Jude and Ally decided to inexplicably alter it and form a system of home signs. Why would the author do this when it's always the opposite? Families without access to formal signs create their own signing system. Although they still might use that home system together after learning the formal signed language, I've never once heard of a family that would put in the work to learn a new language and then "alter" it into a gibberish personal language. Imagine the family learning German in preparation of moving to that country, and Jude and Ally decide to create a gibberish syllabic language alongside it. What's the point?
Also an incredibly ignorant inclusion by the author: Ally has apparently trained her pet dog, Otis, to fetch her when someone calls her name, when the phone rings, when someone's at the door...Um? Those are specific behaviors that require intensive months of training, and Ally says she did it like it was nothing. Suspension of disbelief is nonexistent at this point. The author couldn't use remote flashing doorbells like deaf people actually use to call their attention to things like this? Or texting?? Come on.
Quote: "[Mum] was the only person who I found it easy to lip-read. With Dad I had to really concentrate, and with most of my friends I usually only picked up one word in three. Weird." Why is that weird when in fact that's how lipreading works?
The first time something realistic actually happens: Lynne asks Ally something, and she asks for a repeat. Instead of repeating it verbally, Lynne tries to sign it. Jude comes in talking and Ally only picks up a few words.
Quote: "I'd managed my deafness amazingly well, not letting it hinder me any more than it had to. I'd been brave and clever, determined and unrelenting in my attempts to live a normal life. "That's what I was told, anyway. "In reality, I felt just like a normal girl, and all I'd done was survive. So many people had helped, and were still helping, that I actually found the word 'brave' a little offensive as it threw a shroud over everyone else in my life. My parents, teachers, the guys at the school for the deaf where I went once a month, my friends, Lynne. Even Jude, the little shit. They were brave for adapting to accommodate the awkwardness some of them must have felt, or perhaps still felt now. As for me, I'd just got on with things. I had been the lucky one in that car crash, and living in silence was just another aspect to my new life post-accident."
There's a lot to unpack with that quote. It was actually going well until Ally insists that it's the poor people around her having to adapt to her disability who struggled. As though having to overcome feeling a little awkward is braver than a nine-year-old girl surviving the car crash that killed her grandparents, learning a new method of communication (BSL), and no longer having access to the auditory world around her (more on this last point later). I can promise you, a deaf person does not have these sentiments. A deaf person may not like to be called brave (inspoporn, and all that), but we certainly don't think that the hearing people around us having to write down a few words here and there are braver than us. What the actual hell?
Ally can feel the vibrations of laughter and speech on the fine hairs of her skin and through the soles of her feet. Um...??? In what actual universe does a deaf people use their fine skin hair as feelers?
A huge red flag that the author has absolutely no idea how anything works: At school, teachers give Ally printouts of lessons at the end of the day rather than at the beginning of class so she can try to follow along. They do this because she has no interpreter, despite being a fluent signer. In fact, her friends interpret for her during class. Again, in what universe?! What makes Lebbon think this could ever be okay, or allowed to happen?
Speedrunning through some annoying things: - Lebbon exclusively refers to captioning as subtitles. Not that big a deal, but further underscores his illiteracy of deaf vocabulary. - The people in the novel are constantly switching subtitles on and off. At what point will they just leave them on? Yeesh. - Ally's voice goes flat with bad news, losing the "pleasing musical lilt it had picked up soon after the crash". Why are hearing authors obsessed with describing deaf voices as pleasing and musical? (Tim Lebbon, Frances Itani, and Joanna Shupe are all guilty of doing this, which is highlighted for me because I've read their novels back to back.) - Ally inexplicably moves as quietly as a ghost. Once again, a hearing person who doesn't understand deaf people have a tendency to make noises because they can't hear it themselves.
On that last point: it irks me every time the "silent" existence is brought up. Just because you can't hear anything doesn't mean noises don't exist, or aren't created by your body. So the hearing family's metaphorical experience of silence is very different from Ally's literal experience of it. It's an overtired and incorrect trope that hearing people insist on using, preferring their own subpar imagination to having an actual conversation with a deaf person living the reality. Ridiculous.
Another thing that jumps out at me: Ally remarks that in a family conversation it comes "naturally" to the family to include her by signing and speaking simultaneously (sim-comming), but at every other meeting in the book they have made her lipread, even when they had to be quiet. There's not one fully signed conversation in this novel. Moreover, as stress grows and they travel north, trying to skirt disasters, the family increasingly forgets to include Ally in sharing info and plans.
I'm going to confine myself to this last point, having to do with what sounds the vesps can and cannot hear. One of them 10ft away hears Kelly whispering straight into Huw's ear, but none are attracted to Kelly beating and stomping a vesp to death, their footsteps on gravel, their clothes rasping together as they move, their breathing, urine hitting the ground, etc. Lebbon continually refers to signed language as silent, as though hands rubbing and clapping together don't make noise, as though clothes don't rustle with the movement. It doesn't make any sense to me that the vesps would hear some of these things and not others.
Lebbon has made it abundantly clear that this novel is written for hearing people who don't know or care to learn anything at all about deaf people.