Genre: Young Adult; Fiction
Publication Date: 5 June 2018
“Once upon a time, back at Darrow-Harker School, Beatrice Hartley and her five best friends were the cool kids, the beautiful ones. Then the shocking death of Jim–their creative genius and Beatrice’s boyfriend–changed everything.
One year after graduation, Beatrice is returning to Wincroft–the seaside estate where they spent so many nights sharing secrets, crushes, plans to change the world–hoping she’ll get to the bottom of the dark questions gnawing at her about Jim’s death.
But as the night plays out in a haze of stilted jokes and unfathomable silence, Beatrice senses she’s never going to know what really happened.
Then a mysterious man knocks on the door. Blithely, he announces the impossible: time for them has become stuck, snagged on a splinter that can only be removed if the former friends make the harshest of decisions.
Now Beatrice has one last shot at answers . . . and at life.
And so begins the Neverworld Wake.”
My Thoughts: I really liked Neverworld Wake. I liken it to the movie Groundhog’s Day but with a much more serious story. After all, this is not a story about one man stuck in a loop until he solves his romantic problems. This is a group of young adults enjoying their summer break forced into an unfathomable situation with dire consequences. It is a story about the facades we use even for our best friends and the secrets we keep even from ourselves. It is a story about death and life that is erudite and stimulating. I actually more than liked it.
Like Ms. Pessl’s other novels, Neverworld Wake is the type of novel in which it is best to enter into it cold. You need to view the story through Beatrice’s eyes, watch her former friends, hear their answers, and determine your own conclusions. Simultaneously, you need to experience the Neverworld as someone experiencing it for the first time with the millions of questions, disbelief, and confusion that coincide with it. Not only does this bring you deeper into the action, it also forces you to pay attention to every nuance. When you do that, you become absorbed in the more philosophical elements of the story and questions of right and wrong.
Like the Neverworld is to Bee and her friends, Neverworld Wake is not an easy novel. Answers are not given to you; Ms. Pessl makes you work for them. Plus, the subject matter is rather macabre, and the actions of the group at times are depraved. As time runs out for those in the Neverworld, suspense builds, making it read like a thriller but a much more philosophical one than one usually finds. This all makes for a story that is unlike most everything recently released. While I know it is not getting the greatest of reviews from others, all I can say is that Neverworld Wake confirms for me that Ms. Pessl knows how to write a compelling and unusual story. I cannot wait to see what she publishes next.