This is the second book I picked up because I saw it on so many top ten lists of great summer reads and the best books people have read this year. I truly wish I hadn’t. I did not like this book one little bit.
There’s a big twist, which I’ll try not to spoil but don’t read this review if you haven’t read the book.
The book is about Cadence (Cady) a rich WASP from a prominent family who spends every summer on her family’s private island off Martha’s Vineyard. She has suffered a traumatic accident and cannot remember the details of her summer two years ago. She returns to the island and tries to put together the mystery surrounding her accident and her amnesia.
Cady assumes that she has been the victim of something horrific and this is causing her amnesia and awful migraines, but I inferred from the way everyone treats her that the amnesia is the result of her guilt and that she has perpetrated some great wrong. She is a truly horrible person, totally self-absorbed, full of self pity. She does not stop to question why her cousin Mirren is sick or learn the names of the family’s staff. She and the rest of her family are genuinely unpleasant.
Her mother and two aunts argue over who should inherit what. Her grandfather manipulates everyone to tell him how great he is by holding the inheritance over them. Everyone is cold and repressed and peculiar and ungrateful. I did not like any of them.
I really didn’t like Cady’s narration. The tone is melancholic and full of self pity and at the same time frantic and desperate. It also switches between past and present tense, which I don’t like. The frantic, choppy narration does make it a very quick read. It only took me 4 hours to finish, even though I wasn’t enjoying it.
The book is packed with allegories and really over the top imagery. For example, in the first couple of pages Cady’s father leaves the family and she describes him picking up a gun a shooting her on the front lawn. I read it and thought ‘wow, that’s not the turn I expected this story to take’, before I realised that it was metaphorical. I know that teenagers over-exaggerate and feel things so much more deeply, but the constant reference to Cady bleeding everywhere when she is talking about mental pain are overly melodramatic and jarring. To be honest I think I would have preferred to read the book where Cady’s father actually shot her!
I cannot for the life of me understand why so many people have rated this book so highly. Yes, it has a dramatic twist, but that is a cheap device. This is just a YA version of Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island, and I didn’t like that either. I wish I could have the four hours and £2 I spent on this book back and spend them both on a better read!