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The Nowhere

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Two boys. Two farms. One deadly secret.

Every day’s the same on the farm. Seventeen-year-old Seb rides his quad bike alongside his dad and cattle dog, dreaming about a different life. A life that doesn’t require him to spend all day in the blistering sun. Where the nearest town isn’t a forty-minute drive away with a population of less than three hundred people. Where he can talk to someone who isn’t his little brother or short-tempered father.

So when new neighbours move into the derelict farm on the opposite side of the shrub, Seb hopes his luck is finally about to change. Could Jake, the enigmatic boy with a dangerous glint in his eye, be his ticket out of The Nowhere? And if so, how far are they both willing to go to escape?

Fast forward two decades and Seb’s working as a nurse back in Perth. With his dad living in his home, Seb is tormented by the demons that have followed him his entire adult life. He begins confiding in his caring colleague Sandra, who convinces him the only way he’ll be able to move forward is to exorcise his ghosts and seek closure.

But when Jake calls out the blue telling Seb he’s coming to visit, Seb has to decide whether he’s ready to face exactly what happened that summer. On the night that forever changed not only the lives of the two boys, but that of their entire families.

Youthful, brutal and ferociously fantastic, The Nowhere is a coming-of-age novel about aspiration and isolation, sexuality and sadness, love, loss, and how life changes. Despite his best efforts, Seb learns that secrets can’t be kept forever. The truth always comes out eventually.

You can’t keep it secret forever, the truth always comes out eventually.

339 pages, Paperback

First published June 4, 2019

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About the author

Chris Gill

3 books107 followers
Chris Gill is the author of LGBTQ+ mystery novels The Nowhere and Boy Fallen. The Nowhere was published in 2019 and went on to become a Lambda Literary Awards finalist the following year. Boy Fallen is out now through PRNTD Publishing.

Chris was born in Eastbourne in the UK to a British mother and New Zealander father. He moved to New Zealand with his family at age two where he spent over six years growing up in Auckland. It was during this time that Chris’ love for reading and writing began, spending his early years penning hundreds of short stories his mother still has tucked away.

Upon returning to the UK, Chris lived in a small town in Sussex. These years went on to inspire many of the themes in his novels, such as coming of age, small-town homophobia and isolation. Chris moved to Hampshire at age nineteen to study journalism at university.

Upon graduating, Chris moved to London and began a career in copywriting. In 2011, he published his debut book of poetry through his co-founded publishing company, PRNTD.

Chris relocated to Australia in 2014 and released his LGBTQ+ coming-of-age novel The Nowhere in 2019. His New Zealand mystery novel Boy Fallen is out now.

Chris lives in Sydney with his husband.

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5 stars
138 (51%)
4 stars
61 (22%)
3 stars
42 (15%)
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19 (7%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 78 reviews
Profile Image for Louise Savage.
4 reviews2 followers
July 5, 2019
The Nowhere is gorgeous and gut-wrenching in equal measures. I didn’t know much about the story going into it and the path Gill takes you down will leave your mouth agape and your heart broken. I recommend this book with all that’s left of my heart. Plus, the cover is everything.
Profile Image for Simon.
3 reviews3 followers
July 5, 2019
Wow. An absolutely breathtaking novel full of unrequited love and heartbreak. I went into this thinking it would be a lighthearted m/m romance (I don't know why, the tagline 'one deadly secret' should have given it away) and I was floored how the story turned out. But it's a story I think needed to be told.

I related to parts of the novel very much. I remember my first heartbreak came from a guy who gave me mixed messages but turned out to be 'straight'. I think it's important for stories to sometimes go the way you don't want them to, or that you don't expect them to. And this book was so much more than just an LGBTQ+ coming of age story. It touched on all sorts of dark but realistic themes and messages.

Finally, I loved the writing style of this novel. A lot of symbolism was used, and parts of it read like poetry to me. I also think the homophobic language used in Seb's own head was shocking but relevant to the time – and all the more impactful to a gay reader who faced his own demons when navigating the coming out process.

Brace yourselves for this read and go in with an open mind. But believe me, it's a story that will remain with you a long time after you've finished the last page.
Profile Image for Tom Malden.
5 reviews9 followers
July 14, 2019
I finally read The Nowhere after much hype on Instagram and woah, I can safely say it lives up to it. The story is told so beautifully and slowly builds up, going in a direction you would never expect from a book in this genre. I was expecting more to happen between Seb and Jake, but now having finished the book I can see why it didn't. Highly recommended and looking forward to reading more work from this author.
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,304 reviews27.9k followers
July 5, 2019
This story follows this boy named Sebastian who is a closeted gay teenage boy who lives on this farm with his dad and his brother in the middle of nowhere in Australia. Then one day a boy close to his age named Jake and his family move in to the farm closest to them, and Sebastian start to crush on him hard.

The writing style was kind of strange and hard to get used to because the main story happening in this takes place in 1997 when Sebastian met Jake, but we get chapters from 2017, 2005 and even before 1997 randomly thrown into the book and it was hard for me to keep the timeline straight at first. I'm not sure if the reader is supposed to like Jake the way Sebastian seems to but my god Jake is one of my least favorite characters ever. He's such a freaking asshole who has no redeeming qualities and he bullies Sebastian for 99% of this book, and is such a bad influence on him. All Jake cares about doing is trying every drug the planet has to offer and getting drunk off of his parents alcohol. He also probably realizes Sebastian is gay but spends so much time teasing him and making him think he might be interested and it's fucking annoying.

The ending was ridiculous and it made me want to punch all of the characters in the face. How can they act like that's not a huge fucking deal? Sebastian and Jake made such a huge mistake and are so incredibly selfish it's disgusting.

This sucks because I was really enjoying the beginning, it was giving me such Brokeback Mountain vibes with the whole farm thing in the middle of nowhere. But gosh that ending and Jake's character really ruined this for me.

Thanks to the author and his team for sending me a copy of this book!
Profile Image for Marieke (mariekes_mesmerizing_books).
508 reviews336 followers
February 21, 2022
Actual rating 4.5 stars for this beautiful and heartbreaking queer coming-of-age story.

Aw, that ending hit me. Hard! I have a soft spot for sadder stories with heavy topics, and when I picked up Boy Fallen (out 1/3/22), Chris Gill’s queer mystery novel, a few weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised. I loved his writing and immediately wanted to read his debut The Nowhere too. Whereas Boy Fallen is a mystery, The Nowhere, set in Australia’s outback, tells a coming-of-age story about two boys, Seb and Jake, and a deadly secret. This secret hovers above Seb’s life for years and years. Even though I had an inkling at the beginning and my suspicion turned out to be correct, I constantly sat on the edge of my seat while reading, I got chills all over my body at a certain point, and tears eventually streamed down my face.

The Nowhere covers different genres and feels like a crossover between Young Adult, New Adult, and general fiction. It’s very easily readable, but its topics such as internal homophobia, abuse, manipulation, grief, and guilt are far from comfortable. Chris Gill slowly unfolds what happened back then, but the story is never boring because of the alternating timelines. As readers, we get a beautiful sight in Seb’s life as a teenager in 1997, his adult life in 2017, and the years in between. Chris’ writing is descriptive, and I could feel the scorching heat, the tension between Seb and his dad, and Seb’s attraction to Jake so well. This also applies to the more recent years, Seb’s restlessness and his secret that haunted him for so many years.

Just as I loved Boy Fallen, I loved The Nowhere too, and Chris Gill is an author I will auto-read from now on. I can’t wait for what he has in store for us in the future!

You can’t keep it secret forever. The truth always comes out eventually.

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Profile Image for Josh Radwell.
Author 3 books30 followers
March 15, 2019
Thank you to PRNTD Publishing for sending me a copy of "The Nowhere" – I am so glad I got to be one of the first readers for what is certainly going to be a well-received novel.

5 / 5 Stars

I am not sure where to begin, other than by saying that I was genuinely blown away. I did not expect the story that came from these pages; I was, for lack of better words, gob smacked by the end, in the best way. Essentially, the main character, Seb, receives a call from an old friend, Jake, and from there we are pulled into the story as Seb begins to think back to his youth on a farm he dubs The Nowhere.

We’ll start at the end, I think. The thing I love most is that, although the book is definitely a coming-of-age tale, there is a fantastic mystery involved and it has been weaved into the story so masterfully. The mystery, that’s where the twists came from, and it all culminated in a very different ending for the genre (coming-of-age.) I did not see that ending coming, nor would I ever be able to predict the progression and overall outcome of the story.

I also liked the format. Seb tells us his story over a non-linear story, using flashbacks too—1997 and 1998 (his youth, the main part of the story) and then into the mid 2000’s, and then finally into 2017-2018. This allowed for many different details to be added to the story and allowed for different angles to be explored. I loved the 1997/1998 years; I loved learning about Seb’s life in The Nowhere, in rural Western Australia, and I adored the story of Seb and Jake, the neighbour who moves into the farm nextdoor.

This wasn’t an easy story to read. Not in a bad way, though. This is a story that confronts big topics; toxic father-son relationships, love, sexual awakenings, growing up, crime, guilt, first love, loss, disaster, hatred, life in general. There is an honesty to it all, nothing is tip-toed around, we are given a raw, confronting, unflinching tale of a young boy coming to terms with himself and his life, and his desire to be somewhere else. It was a wonderful story.

This was a great read, truly. And I am very glad I got to be among the first to read it. I recommend this one to anyone looking for a good Australian story, a good coming-of-age story, or a good piece of LGBT+ fiction. 5/5 stars.
Profile Image for Carlene Inspired.
958 reviews249 followers
April 14, 2021
Find this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
March Queer Your Shelves Selection

Writing a review for The Nowhere feels impossible. I don't think I can adequately express in words just how profound an experience I had reading it. Chris Gill captures the very essence of what it is to be young, to know something is different from what you're told is normal, and to be so wholly wrapped up in someone else. Those teenage years are hard, but even harder when you must live with the consequences of them forever. We are left wondering about what must have occurred as we follow Seb through various times in his life. We see him in his youth, as an adult seeking to break away from his father, and finally as he for the first time lets another into his life.

The Nowhere is a difficult book to read, both due to being non-chronological and due to the impossible weight Seb puts on himself. He frequently speaks terribly to himself, words of shame and sin and hatred that were so heavy on my heart. It is incredible how Gill captured both the external and internal homophobia, Seb is coming-of-age in a time and a place where he does not feel loved and does not know how to love himself. When he finally does find another he feels a bond to, Jake, it only makes him question further who he is and who Jake could be to him. His upbringing are apparent in how he carries himself well into adulthood, the words and experiences keeping him from truly accepting even himself.

I would call The Nowhere a coming-of-age New Adult novel, however it is filled with complexities, the topics Gill touches on are heavy. The characters and the relationships they share are fraught with emotional and physical abuse. It's a journey of familial relationships and friendships, intimacy, and loss. It's a powerful, heart wrenching story that I will revisit and that I highly recommend.
Profile Image for Laura.
350 reviews21 followers
June 5, 2019
Two boys. Two farms. One deadly secret.

When Seb moves to The Nowhere with his father and brother, he didn’t imagine his life would turn out the way it did. Each day, exactly the same. Work on the farm, in the blistering sun, dream of a different life. A better life.

Until one day a new family moves in next door. Seb thinks his luck might have just changed. Could Jake, the enigmatic boy with a dangerous glint in his eye, be his ticket out of The Nowhere?

An absolutely brilliant novel! I was already won over by the beautiful, minimalist cover, but it was a book that I could just not put down. The story jumps from present day to past, as Seb battles with his demons and who he is. With Jake coming to visit him again, all these dark demons and the big secret he has been suppressing come bubbling back up. Such a beautiful, coming of age novel, that highlights the challenges of growing up LGBT+ in a place that suppresses freedom.

As for the secret, well I had no idea that was coming. Looking back, I should’ve picked up on it, but I had no idea this story would play out in the way that it did, leaving the impact that it did on all involved. It was just written in such a creative way that you never saw it coming until it was too late.

Cannot recommend this book enough, make sure you grab one when it comes out!!
Profile Image for Laxmama .
583 reviews
January 17, 2022
I just finished this one, which I was really looking forward to and I still can’t say I know what to say. I was completely invested at the beginning of the book and wanted to know where this was going. The story being told in time jumps back and forth present time to a few different times in the M/C’s past with the story building. However as I kept reading I just could not stand anyone in this book. Sebastian- the M/C was just annoying and so wishy washy through his whole life it started to just irritate me. His crush was just an cruel manipulative jerk. ALL THE parents ….???

Also the big thing I was reading for at the end…. Predicable

However- everyone loved this one so I may just have to say it’s me not the book.
Profile Image for Laura Altmann.
109 reviews118 followers
March 28, 2019
"In that moment, the aching longing to be somewhere else was finally gone. Somewhere that wasn't The Nowhere. Somewhere that wasn't my own skin. In the darkness, I was sure I could hear the night whispering to me. Telling me it secrets, now it knew mine."
- The Nowhere, Chris Gill

When Seb's mother died, his life changed dramatically. His father, Stuart, dragged Seb and his younger brother away from Perth city to move to the country and fulfil his dream of becoming a cattle farmer. Far from civilisation, or teenagers his own age, Seb has become desperately lonely, dreaming of escaping the farm, or as he calls it, "The Nowhere". Then, when a new family and their rebellious son Jake move in next door, everything starts to change.

Fast forward twenty years, Seb is now a nurse and it's been decades since he last saw Jake. Thus when Jake calls out of the blue, suggesting the pair meet up for coffee, Seb is startled and hesitant. Will this blast from the past force Seb to confront the truth about what really happened on the farm, all those years ago?

First of all I'd like to say a huge thank you to Chris Gill and PRNTD Publishing for providing me with a copy of this gorgeous book to review!

I went into The Nowhere with few expectations, I was attracted to the book because of it's beautiful cover (for some reason, I just love minimalist covers) and because it was set in Western Australia, the city I've lived in for my entire life. Though in the past, I haven't come across many books with Perth settings that I've actually enjoyed. I didn't know an awful lot about the plot, except that the story takes place in a rural area and potentially involved a m/m romance. Thus, I was pleasantly surprised when I loved this book from the very beginning.

As I said, one of the elements I most enjoyed about the book is its Australian setting. I felt Gill described the dusty outback perfectly, and though the ocean was only briefly mentioned, he somehow also captured the Australian love of the beach really well. I also liked Gill's use of Australian slang! It wasn't too over the top, but it was fun reading about characters who used words like "bogan" and "pashing". Plus, Jake's tendency to tack the word "mate" onto the end of half his sentences reminded me of several people I know.

Another thing I loved about The Nowhere was the relationship between Seb and Jake. This isn't the kind of cutesy romance you see in books like Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (though I did love that one too), it's angsty, raw and full of longing. Seb and Jake are two characters drawn together by loneliness, and both are confused by the complex and intense bond they share. Something about the way Seb obsessed over Jake, and Jake's looming sense of emotional instability gave the book kind of a psychological thriller feel, at times, though as a whole it would more likely to be described as a coming of age story or general fiction. Their relationship is very central to the plot of the book, and it was both very realistic and well written.

Overall, The Nowhere is a wonderful book and I would recommend it to anyone who loves mystery and raw, human drama. Or anyone looking for an LGBT+ read! I'd also say that I think it's probably best going into this book without knowing too much about it, it's a very character driven story and mystery is at the heart of it's plot, so I think it's best to just keep an open mind and let the book surprise you.
Profile Image for my bookworm life.
503 reviews23 followers
March 24, 2019
📖💟 I finished this the other day and wow let me tell you I haven't been able to stop thinking about it!
That ending was not what I expected at all and I've only just managed to put all the bits of my heart back together so thanks for that ha. But no seriously the writing of this book is brilliant , the ability to write something that is so easy to get into and keeps you hooked and guessing all the way to the end , that's a talent right there! I know if a book is good for me personally because when I read i'm not only seeing the words I'm reading but I'm picturing the story playing out in my mind , I can see the people and the situations, like a film in my head. And that's exactly what happened with this wonderful book. This book deals with many subjects - friendships , family relationships , sexuality , death and that feeling, longing and hope for something more , an adventure and an altered life that you see in your dreams but it's never made it to a reality. I felt Seb's frustrations for not being satisfied with where he was in his life , and the guilt he also felt for even just wanting more that he had. I really enjoyed the format of the skipping between time frames , sometimes in books it doesn't work and it feels too much but with this story it worked really well and was seamless. It is written so well that it never has any dull or boring moments , never any part are you thinking 'yeah alright just get on with it' , the pacing is great and you're into it so quickly then find yourself eager to know how it will end. Throughout the story the repeated thought of Sebs is 'You can't keep it a secret forever , the truth always comes out eventually' , and as the tensions grow and the story develops I was so intrigued to know what the secret was going to be , what had happened and how did it affect him/anyone else. WELL let me tell you I was not expecting the answers to that question , que heartbreak and open shocked mouth , just brilliant , the end section of the book wow just wow , loved it!. Congratulations to Chris Gill you should be very proud of this!
Profile Image for Jade Diamond.
234 reviews40 followers
June 26, 2019
The Nowhere tells the story of Seb, a Teenage boy growing up in the Outback, struggling to find belonging and companionship, that is until a new family moves in next door, and he meets the enigmatic Jake. Jumping back and forth between present and past, as he tries to accept the choices of his past. I loved that even though this is definitely a coming-of-age story, It has this fantastic Mystery involved that was to so beautifully weaved into the story.

I also really enjoyed the format! Seb tell his story over a non-linear story, using flashbacks too – 1997 and 1998, his youth, which is the main part of the story, and then into the 2000’s and then finally 2018 and 2019. I loved the 1997/1998 years and reading about Seb’s time in The Nowhere, in Rural Western Australia. The Characters are great. They are greatly influenced by their Pasts but are trying to move on, trying to get closure.

The Writing is Brilliant. I thought this book was well written and structured extremely well. I was genuinely blown away! I loved this book from start to finish and never once became bored of it, which for me is quite amazing, even though I love reading, I also lack concentration and focus, and often find my mind drifting off, that never once happened with this book. I read this book in less than 24 hours and could not put it down, I loved every second of it and the mystery aspect of it kept me intrigued
Profile Image for Phil Dowell (philsbookcorner).
171 reviews27 followers
September 11, 2022
4.5 Stars

This was amazing, a gay coming-of-age story set in the Australian Outback that was both beautiful & devastating - I don't think I've ever read anything quite like this!

The Nowhere reads somewhat like a cross between contemporary fiction & young adult, Chris Gill is truly a talented writer who pulls you in right from the first page. The multiple timelines worked well here - this had an air of mystery to it, the mantra repeated throughout continuously had me on edge trying to figure out what exactly had happened in the past. There are a ton of heavy topics covered here, but they were done so with grace - main CWs being physical & emotional abuse and homophobia, particularly internalized homophobia. As a line in the book states, things aren't often black & white & I feel like Chris did a great job of conveying the complexities of the characters & their situations, especially with the relationship between Seb & his father. The ending really hit me like a ton of bricks & I think this strikes up a ton of important conversations.

I highly, highly recommend this - a huge thank you to Brett (@bretts.book.stack) for putting this on my radar as Queer Your Shelves' March 2021 pick! I'm really looking forward to reading more of Chris' work, can't wait to see what comes next!
Profile Image for Rajesh Bookrider.
45 reviews3 followers
June 25, 2019
3.5/5 Stars

Two boys. Two farms. One deadly secret.

The story jumps present and past. Seb is telling his story.

Seb is gay. But that's not a deadly secret.
Seventeen-year-old Seb lives on a farm with his father and brother in The Nowhere.
Seb doesn't like to live on farm. He was alone until one day Jack moves in next door Or farm.

Eventually Seb and Jake become friend and both make an escape plan so they could run away from their miserable farm life.

In between seb calls a friend to work on farm and that friend is a girl (keilly)
And there we can read the coming-age, critical situations, kind of love triangle drama which make difficult to put this book down.

As story process toward the end we find out being gay is not the premise of the story.
It's more then just finding your sexuallity.

And at the end as Author "Chris Gill" said
"You can’t keep it secret forever, the truth always comes out eventually."

This quote was annoying me but I really enjoyed this story. especially to read Seb's relationship with his younger brother "J".
Profile Image for Sabrina.
5 reviews15 followers
March 24, 2019
Honestly, this is another book that I am still unsure of. I did like it but I think it’s one of those books that I would only read once.

I thought the book was well written and I liked how it was structured. You watch the story unfold through the present time and through flashbacks of the past. It was nice to see how the main character developed and changed throughout different times of his life. I will say, it was a bit slow in the beginning and I wasn’t gripped from the start. However, it did pick up towards the half way point in the book.

My favourite thing about the book was the relationship between the main character, Sebastian, and his baby brother, Jeremy. Their relationship was a powerful one and you could tell they had a special bond. I enjoyed reading their scenes, especially the spider scene! So cute! I’m still not a fan of spiders though. Not even a book can change that for me.

Unfortunately, there were a few things that I didn’t like about the book. For example, I found the main character, Sebastian, to be quite annoying at times and don’t even get me started on the character Kylie. Maybe I’m being too harsh but I just couldn’t connect with her. To me, she just wasn’t a good friend.

Overall, I have given it 3 stars on goodreads as there were elements of the book that I liked.
Profile Image for John.
195 reviews36 followers
June 10, 2019
Wow. This was one of those books that enthralls you and makes you resent having to put the book down to sleep. It is a powerful book that is as beautiful as it is devastating and stays with you long after the book is finished. It deals with themes related to homosexuality, coming of age, loneliness, family relationships and grief.

One of the strengths of 'The Nowhere' is how the loneliness and isolation of rural Australia has been evoked, somewhat reminiscent of Jane Harper's work, but done in a very different way. Similarly, the characters have been well developed and I found that I could 'see' them easily. The storyline itself was captivating and made want more each time I had to put it down.

If I had to make a criticism, I thought the ending was a little bit unsatisfying in its vagueness and although Sebastian's homosexuality was dealt with very well in the book, I would have liked Sebastian's sexuality to have played a larger role in the narrative. But these are very small criticisms.

I would recommend this book!

Profile Image for Falguni Jain.
Author 3 books12 followers
June 12, 2019
The story revolves around a really interesting plot. Two kids dreaming of running away from their town -  The Nowhere. But still not satisfied when they get what they have wanted for so long.

It is a story of one sided love, family drama, friendship, teenage desires, and broken dreams.

I loved the way the author transitioned to and fro past and present. Revealing just enough to keep the story going on while maintaining the curiosity of the reader.

The characters are great. They are influenced by their pasts but they are trying to get over it. Trying to get a closure from their past. I think this is something which needs to be learnt from the story. Past shape you, but you must not let the past have too much control over you. You need to understand the importance of letting things go. If you can't change it, there is no use of regretting over it.

I would definitely recommend this book if you are looking for LGBTQ theme, less romance and more drama.
Profile Image for Katherine.
303 reviews
November 17, 2019
I had the opportunity to read this book the first time before it got published. I loved it then & I loved it when I re-read. Some changes since I got to read it first, but still loved the book

Still cried in it

I did feel sorry for Seb
Profile Image for Cameron (readsandwritesbyc).
145 reviews4 followers
May 29, 2020
Yup, this novel has left me devastated, but the good kind of devastated. Seb and his tumultuous journey in finding his identity, defining his sexuality and navigating through guilt-laden trauma punched me in the gut with the turn of each page. His character’s interactions with other complex characters like Jake, Kylie, and of course, Dad, are so real and so wrenching that I found myself holding my breath in suspense of what would transpire next. I believe this story is necessary and its subject matter relates so much to dealing with grief and trauma, while also focusing on the simultaneous human condition of engaging and risking one’s love for someone, a love that is powerful enough to cause such catastrophe. Seb is a character that will not leave me any time soon and I grately look forward to reading more of Chris Gill’s stories!
Profile Image for Maggie.
2 reviews2 followers
June 17, 2019
This was a beautiful book to read and the story is lovely to follow
Profile Image for Jennys Bücherkiste.
640 reviews19 followers
April 1, 2019
Hier geht's zur vollständigen Rezension auf meinem Blog. | Click here to view the complete review on my blog.

Rezension | Review
(English version see below.)

Auf das Buch habe ich mich gefreut, seit ich den Autor auf Instagram entdeckt habe. Vom ersten Zitat an, das ich gelesen habe, klang es nach einer herzerwärmenden, leichten Coming-Of-Age Geschichte im australischen Outback. Schüchterne Annäherung, heimliche Treffen zur Erkundung der neuen Gefühle, ein dramatisches, herzzerreißendes Ende der Beziehung wegen des aufbrausenden Vaters und dann endlich eine Wiedervereinigung nach zwanzig Jahren, in denen sie einander nie vergessen konnten – das habe ich erwartet. Im Grunde den Prototypen eines Buches mit der Coming-Of-Age Geschichte eines schwulen Jugendlichen. Bekommen habe ich nichts davon, denn das Buch war anders. Ganz anders. „Don't judge a book by its cover“, kann ich dazu nur sagen. Und jetzt stehe ich vor der Frage: Wie bewerte ich ein Buch, das brillant gemacht war und von dem ich gleichzeitig vergessen möchte, dass ich es jemals gelesen habe? Nicht, weil ich es nicht mochte, sondern weil es so intensiv gewesen ist, dass ich am Ende fast schon depressiv war?

Von Anfang an hat das Buch mich vor Nervosität fast durchdrehen lassen. Ich habe mich gefühlt wie kaum jemals zuvor beim Lesen: ängstlich. Es war das reinste Grauen. Diese Art von Grauen, bei dem man weiß, dass etwas Fürchterliches geschehen wird, aber man weiß weder was noch wann. Je mehr ich gelesen habe, desto mehr Angst hatte ich. Ein Drittel. Nichts war passiert. Die Hälfte. Nichts war passiert. Auf der einen Seite wollte ich dieses fürchterliche Ereignis, von dem ich mir sicher war, dass es kommen würde, endlich hinter mich bringen; auf der anderen Seite habe ich gehofft, nie an dem Punkt der Geschichte anzukommen. Dieses Buch hat meine Gefühle völlig verrückt spielen lassen. Immer weniger Seiten waren noch übrig und immer noch war nichts passiert. Die Geschichte an sich war zwar langsam und intensiv, aber nicht übermäßig spannend oder dramatisch. Trotzdem haben meine Hände gebebt, ich habe gezittert und konnte mich kaum noch beruhigen. Ich war so mitgerissen, dass ich nicht mehr aufhören konnte. Dabei kann ich nicht einmal sagen, woran das genau lag. Vielleicht an der Wortwahl des Autors, vielleicht am Setting, vielleicht an den Charakteren, vielleicht an der nicht-chronologischen Erzählung, vielleicht an allem gleichzeitig. Ich weiß nur, dass ich schon lange nicht mehr solche Angst hatte, schon gar nicht beim Lesen. Da ich noch nie etwas von Chris Gill gelesen hatte, wusste ich auch nicht, ob ich nach all dem Grauen noch auf ein Happy End hoffen konnte.

Wenn ich mit diesem Buch eines über den Autor gelernt habe, dann dass er erzählen kann. Das fängt schon mit dem Aufbau der Geschichte an. Diese beginnt im Jahr 2017 und erzählt die aktuellen Lebensumstände des Protagonisten Sebastian. Langsam fasst er Vertrauen zu seiner Arbeitskollegin Sandra und beginnt, ihr vom Leben auf der Farm vor zwanzig Jahren zu erzählen. Statt ihn alles rezitieren zu lassen, springt der Autor aber in die Vergangenheit ins Jahr 1997 und lässt den siebzehnjährigen Seb diese verhängnisvolle Vergangenheit erleben. Dadurch wurden die Erlebnisse intensiver und lebendiger. Doch nicht immer ist 1997 das Ziel. Manchmal werden auch Kapitel von 1995 eingeschoben. Oder von 2005. Immer so, wie es gerade passt. Nicht immer leitet der aktuelle Zeitstrang die Rückblicke ein. Manchmal ist es auch andersherum. So verschmelzen die unterschiedlichen Zeitstränge zu einer Geschichte, die mich in ihrem Sog gefangen gehalten und nicht mehr losgelassen hat. Beim Lesen hatte ich das Gefühl, dass der Autor sich sehr viele Gedanken um die Reihenfolge Der Schilderung gemacht und alles sorgfältig in Szene gesetzt hat.
Beigetragen hat zu meinem gebannten Lesen aber nicht nur die nicht-chronologische Struktur, sondern auch der Schreibstil des Autors. Das ganze Buch war unfassbar intensiv. Die Einsamkeit, die Seb auf der Farm verspürt, die totale Isolation dort im Nirgendwo: Es war bedrückend. Wunderschön geschrieben, aber deprimierend. Lebendig erzählt, aber grauenerregend. Ich wollte unbedingt weiterlesen und gleichzeitig aufhören. Mit jedem Kapitel habe ich mich schlechter gefühlt, aber ich konnte einfach nicht aufhören zu lesen. Dieses Buch ist ein brillantes Kunstwerk. Und gleichzeitig niederschmetternd. Es war brillant, aber ich möchte es vergessen wegen allem, was es mit mir und meinen Emotionen gemacht hat. Eigentlich ist es ein 5-Sterne-Buch, weil es wirklich genial war. Trotzdem habe ich mich entschieden, nur vier Sterne zu vergeben, weil es mir nach dem Lesen wirklich richtig schlecht ging. Ich glaube nicht, dass ich jemals den Mut haben werde, dieses Buch erneut zur Hand zu nehmen. Ich kann es nur empfehlen, keine Frage, aber in mir hat es etwas ausgelöst, das mir so viel Angst macht, dass ich es schnellstmöglich wieder vergessen möchte. Welch ein Paradoxon …

English version:
I've been looking forward to read this book ever since I first discovered the author on Instagram. It sounded like a heartwarming, sweet coming-of-age story in the Australian outback. Shy approaches, secret meetings to explore the new feelings, a dramatic, heartbreaking end of their relationship because of the short-tempered father, and finally a reunion after twenty years of never forgetting each other - that's what I expected. Basically the prototype of a book with the coming-of-age story of a gay teenager. I did not get any of that because the book was different. Completely different. I can only say: "Do not judge a book by its cover". And now I'm faced with the question: How do I rate a brilliant book of which I want to forget I've ever read it? Not because I did not like it, but because it was so intense and depressing? Because depressed is what I was after reading.

Right from the beginning this book freaked me out. I felt something I've barely ever felt before while reading a novel: fear. I was genuinely horrified. The type of horrified where you know something devastating is going to happen, but you neither know what nor when. The more pages I read the more anxious I got. A third. Nothing had happened. Half. Nothing had happened. On the one hand I wanted the devastating event to finally happen, while on the other hand I desperately hoped it would never come to pass. This book has made my feelings go crazy. Fewer and fewer pages were left and still nothing had happened. The story itself was slow and intense, although not thrilling. Nevertheless I was trembling, shaking and could barely calm down. I felt like I was way too invested, but I didn't know how to stop. I don't even know where it came from. Maybe the author's choice of words, maybe the setting, maybe the characters, maybe the non-chronologically ordered chapters, maybe all at once. All I knew was that I was horrified. And because it's been my first book by Chris Gill I didn't even know whether there was any hope left for a happy ever after.

If there's one thing I've learned about the author while reading this book it's that he can tell stories. It began with the construction of the story. The prologue is set in 2017 and tells the current life circumstances of the protagonist Sebastian. Slowly he takes confidence in his colleague Sandra and begins to tell her about life on the farm twenty years ago. Instead of having him recite everything, however, the author jumps into the past into the year 1997 and lets the seventeen-year-old Seb experience his fateful past. This made the experiences more intense and lively. But it's not always 1997. Sometimes chapters from 1995 are also inserted. Or from 2005. Always the way it works best. Not always does the current timeline initiate the retrospectives. Sometimes it's the other way around. Thus, the different strands of time merge into a story that has kept me captive and never let me go. As I read, I felt that the author had given a lot of thought to the sequence of the narrative and carefully staged everything without forcing it.
Not only the non-chronological structure thrilled me, but also the writing style of the author. The whole book was incredibly intense. The loneliness Seb feels on the farm, the total isolation there in the nowhere: it was depressing. Beautifully written, but depressing. Lively narrated, but still depressing. I really wanted to keep reading and to stop at the same time. I got more depressied with every chapter, but I just couldn't stop reading. This book is a brilliant work of art. And at the same time devastating. It was brilliant, but I want to forget it because of everything it made me feel. Actually, it's a 5-star book because it was really awesome. Nevertheless, I have decided to score it with only four stars, because I felt horribly depressed after reading it. I do not think I'll ever have the courage to pick up this book again. I can only recommend it, no question, but it has triggered something in me that scares me so much that I want to forget it as soon as possible. What a paradox ...

Fazit | Conclusion
Dieses Buch hat mich völlig fertig gemacht. Es fällt mir schwer, ein Fazit zu ziehen, weil ich immer noch ziemlich am Ende bin. Ich würde dieses Buch als brillantes Kunstwerk beschreiben. Es war wunderschön geschrieben, sorgfältig aufgebaut und intensiv erzählt. Gleichzeitig hat es einen Punkt in mir getroffen, der meine Gefühle so hat verrückt spielen lassen, dass ich teilweise richtig Angst hatte, weiter zu lesen. Ich glaube nicht, dass ich mich jemals trauen werde, es wieder in die Hand zu nehmen. „The Nowhere“ ist ein geniales Buch, das ich aufgrund seiner Wirkung auf mich aber am liebsten wieder vergessen würde, sodass ich mich für eine Bewertung mit vier Schreibfedern entschieden habe.

This book destroyed me. It's hard for me to come to a conclusion because I'm still pretty much done. I would describe this book as a brilliant work of art. It was beautifully written, carefully constructed and told intensively. At the same time, it touched something in me that made my feelings go crazy, so that I was scared to continue reading. I do not think I'll ever dare to pick it up again. "The Nowhere" is an ingenious book, which I would like to forget because of its effect on me, so I have decided for a rating with four stars.

Vielen Dank an Chris Gill und PRNTD Publishing für das Rezensionsexemplar!
Thanks to Chris Gill and PRNTD Publishing for providing me with an ARC!
Profile Image for Anthony Joseph.
68 reviews7 followers
March 26, 2021
The Nowhere by Chris Gill was an absolutely thrilling novel -- one filled with love, heartbreak, and mystery. I picked up this book as part of the #queeryourshelves March book pick and wow am I glad I did; it was everything I love in a book. With its slow burn throughout, it builds to an ending that was not expected.

The Nowhere follows the story of Seb, an almost adult teenager, living on a cattle ranch with his dad and brother literally in the middle of nowhere in the Australian outback. Seb longs for another life far away from his abusive dad and The Nowhere. One day, while working on the farm, Seb and his Father meet their new neighbors. Hope hangs in front of Seb’s eyes in the form of Jake the new neighbor’s son. Is Jake, Seb’s way out of the Nowhere, or will a deadly act change the trajectory of their lives forever?

CW: Homophobia, Internalized homophobia, physical/emotional abuse.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the writing style of Gill. It honestly had everything I like in a thriller/mystery book. It was a book of self-discovery and battling of self-acceptance, of love, loss, and growing up. With the repeating lines throughout, I thought that I had sort of figured out what was happening, but was honestly not sure until the end. The story alternates through different timelines in Seb’s life and I absolutely love that in a book. It made the story move very quickly, and I would love to see more books written this way. There was one part that I felt needed more closure, but then as I thought more about it I think Chris left it the way he did on purpose. Sometimes in life, things don’t always have closure--whether that be in friendship or love and I feel like that is why it was left the way it was. I will say that I wasn’t sure what secret was that was going to come out at the end, but it was heartbreaking. I really enjoyed this book and I definitely recommend that you grab a copy of it for yourself.

I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5.
Profile Image for Kyle Likens.
71 reviews6 followers
June 19, 2021
After reading multiple reviews of The Nowhere, I am convinced I was reading a different book.

I loathe being hypercritical about books I didn't enjoy; writing and getting a novel published is a huge accomplishment so I'll make this brief. I did not enjoy The Nowhere. The story was dull and repetitive, the characters unremarkable, the twist and the payoff almost nonexistent and the writing overwrought and uninspired.

I'm sorry I bought this book brand new.
January 6, 2022
Beautifully written and poetic. Seb's story of infatuation with his bad boy neighbor is both heartwarming and heart breaking. Will reread!
February 22, 2021
I had a screen shot of The Nowhere saved in my phone for the longest time and kept thinking I had to read it. The only thing I regret is taking so long to pick up a copy of this beautiful but heart wrenching story.

The Nowhere is easily now one of my all time favourite must reads.

A complex coming of age story, will leave you guessing until the very end.
Profile Image for ASierra.
36 reviews3 followers
March 25, 2019
I got a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review. So here’s my honesty:

First of all, this is not your typical ´boy realizes his feelings for his friend´, ´friend kind of does as well´ and suddenly… Romcom coming-of-age Teendrama extravaganza!
NOP! I started the book thinking that aaannnddd BOY was I wrong!

So, it´s not a Pretty in Pink kind of story despite the pretty pink cover! What is it then?

Without talking about the plot to much (I like to be surprised about a book´s story), what The Nowhere lacks in boombox moments it gives in ambiance! SERIOUSLY!

This book takes you to the middle of God knows where Australia. Not the surfing, cool kids, awesome and remote areas one would assume are Down Under. Literal Nowhere! And I LIVED FOR IT.
The way the book describes farm living through Seb´s (the main character) gaze is mesmerizing. It serves nostalgia, rage, isolation, longlines fear and submission all at the same time in a really unique sort of way.
I personally love how the author manages to portray feelings of being lost, struggle, remorse, infatuation and maturing in every single chapter so effortlessly.

With this book we get to experience simultaneously the main character in different stages of his life. The chapters are broken up by date, so it's important to take mental notes of the dates to follow the story. Thanks to the time jumps, we can connect with Seb and get a realistic glimpse of his psyche, as well as getting to experience his struggle with inner demons, not just as a teen but as a grown adult.

I found this novel really well written with refreshingly realistic characters that are neither good nor bad. All filled with human flaws.
I really liked how the author wasn´t scared to show their different sides so your opinion of them evolves as the story progresses.

We also know that there is a dark side to the story from the beginning but nothing is reviled until the end, so if you like a bit of mystery and intrigue in your novels you will definitely enjoy this one.

Overall I really recommend this book, especially if you are looking for a LGBTQ+ narrative where being queer is not the premise of the story, just one of many experiences that can help define your own identity.
Profile Image for Daniel De Lost.
146 reviews21 followers
September 21, 2020
The Nowhere, by Chris Gill, is no doubt a hurricane of emotions from its very beginning. Gill masterly combines the bitter gay coming-of-age story with some thriller/suspense elements which really keep the reader involved till the end: secrets and mysteries must be unravelled, so that the protagonist, Sebastian, may gradually tie up his loose ends with a haunting past.

The Nowhere is above all a godforsaken place towards which Sebastian feels "an unaffected scorn", quoting Nick Carraway. It is the place, the remote farm, he can't bear to live in any longer, where everything seems still, like the rusty and motionless windmill (perfect objective correlative for the novel) where days are uneventful, where Sebastian almost feels the same scorn for himself, for what his true identity is and, therefore, believes he must do everything he can to keep his true self repressed, at bay, for the terrible fear of being repulsed by the people around him.

One of the novel's recurring themes is that secrets cannot be kept forever, because to disclose them can really be the only liberating process, a private sort of atonement. It is indeed a process Sebastian must go through, precisely when he feels he has finally found the right person to open up with.
Sebastian can do nothing but let out all the disconfort related to his troubled relationship with his short-tempered father and the enigmatic neighbour, Jake, the one who leads him to make unimaginable things and take dangerous decisions.

The Nowhere is a delicate, moving and brutal story of loneliness, of loss, of unfulfilled desires and the recurring hardships of self-acceptance (true pulsing heart of gay fiction), masterly emphasised throughout the novel by the non-chronological narrative, so the constant switching between past and present to get to the final revelations and, at last, to release pain.
There could be, nonetheless, some small issues in terms of Jake's character development, but most of all the way in which he behaves towards Sebastian. Their story could certainly deserve a better fate, although in the end Jake's apathetic and cynical reactions do justice to the type of character Chris Gill gives life to.
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