This was a great first book to kick off What We Read, my virtual book club. I received messages from most of the book clubbers at various points, telling me they had finished, or were halfway and completely hooked.
I loved the interaction as the book was being read, not just the discussion that will hopefully take place on this review post. It made reading all the more enjoyable, knowing others were reading the same book as me at the same time. I was talking to one book clubber today and she said it took her some time to get into Distress Signals and if she hadn’t been part of the book club she may have given up. As I’ve said before, it would not be a problem to give up and own up to that in the discussion. If a book we read has any content we’re uncomfortable with, or the book is simply rubbish, then any of us can feel free to quit. But in this case, she was hooked part-way through and pleased she’d stuck it out. Win for book club! If you fancy joining in the fun, find out more here and sign up.
I was a bit cocky with book one, for some reason. I have been steaming through books this past year and thought I didn’t want to finish too early and forget all about it. I also was concerned about getting too into it at times when I couldn’t afford to. Like when I took the kids away by myself, and just the entire summer holidays in general. It would have been unfair to them if I’d been ignoring them and getting narky when they uttered a single syllable in my direction because I was so engrossed. Note to self: don’t start a book club in August!
The thing is, I did start it well over a week ago and only just finished two days before my post deadline. I was gripped, but not REALLY gripped. There was much that impressed me about the book, it was a clever plot and well-written. It was believable.
Yet I think there may have been something lacking regarding pace. Perhaps also it’s just the nature of psychological thrillers; you want to find out what happens, but then you don’t, because it might not be pleasant.
So, onto the four prompts (I have changed the fourth one)…
I loved the parallel stories running alongside each other. It was intriguing as the author kept us guessing as to how the stories would tie together in the end. She kept us on the trail of Romain, thinking: “it was him! He did it, somehow, somewhen…”
But, it wasn’t. The stories were just linked in that the killers were both aware of/took advantage of the “lawless” location (a cruise ship). They also both met their end at this same location, and therefore as inconspicuously as their own victims.
The romantic, loves-a-happy-ending side of me wanted Sarah to be found at the end. For her to be alive and well, with a big apology, and then life goes on happy-ever-afterly. Though I expect that would have been somewhat unsatisfactory within this genre, and I was pleased that at least Adam had some resolution with knowing that she was wanting to go back to him.
I found the story of Romain heartbreaking. Did you? Or did you agree with Corinne, that the world would have been better off if he’d never been born? The ending gave the impression that it wasn’t mainly about how she’d rejected him through his childhood, but more about this inner (perhaps inherited) “darkness” that he would never fully escape, no matter how much he tried. He seemed to cause death, even when his motives were good, or his actions innocent.
I was left feeling like he was a rabid dog that had needed to be put down. That nothing could help him. I felt sad that it was implied that overall it would have been better if he’d never been born because no amount of love from parents who’d treated him like the rest of their children could have prevented him from becoming a psychopath. I’m not saying this shouldn’t have been in the book. I’m saying it was my worst bit because it was hard to read. (As I’ve said previously, it’s up to you how you answer – your worst bit could be a specific scene, or some element of the writing style you didn’t get on with).
What I learned about the world…
NEVER go on a cruise! I jest, but it was very interesting and enlightening to learn about maritime laws and the implications of them for passenger safety on cruises. I had also never heard that advice about looking at air stewards when there’s turbulence to gauge whether you need to panic. I will do that on my flight tomorrow, though hopefully it won’t be necessary.
What impacted me…
When I finished reading this at midnight and it was all dark and quiet, I was rather disturbed! I’m a sensitive soul, as you’ll probably see with future novels of a similar genre. I was left feeling like the world is terrifying and it’s hard to truly know a person.
Though this is true to an extent, in the cold light of day, what this novel left me pondering is how easy it can be to give up on someone, to think that love isn’t enough. That it can’t heal, or satisfy, or last. The world is very scary and destructive when this belief prevails.
I think Corinne gave up on Romain from the start, before he even had a chance to prove her wrong. Sanne also gave up on Romain. Sarah gave up on Adam and when she realised her mistake unfortunately circumstance worked against her and she couldn’t go back. But Adam refused to give up on Sarah and sought the truth until he found it. Though perhaps he pursued her when it was too little, too late.
It was also an interesting study on that inherent part of us that believes we can best judge the consequences of somebody else’s actions. Did you experience that as the reader? “Sarah didn’t deserve to die, but Peter did!” Part of what made it a satisfactory ending was feeling as though the murderers got what they deserved… but there was something jarring about the fact that their comeuppance was not delivered by the law but by another human being who took it upon themselves to administer retribution. Side note: this kind of comment can lead us down a rabbit warren of discussing some major issues and ideologies. That’s ok, but let’s also keep focused on the book and understand that we can observe that a book prompts us to think about certain issues without actually having to give our opinion on them and end up debating them.
So, there you have it! Those were my comments… Now let’s hear yours! Book clubbers, and anyone else interested, please comment below with your answers to the prompts (if you like). Remember, everyone is entitled to their opinion and we may differ, which is OK! In fact, it’s good.
Do provide any feedback you may have on using the review post as the site of our discussion (I know one book clubber isn’t on Facebook so a group on there would exclude some) and also send future book suggestions to:
Love to you BC’s (Book Clubbers)!