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Review of 'Neverworld Wake'


Neverworld Wake

Marisha Pessl, 2018

YA fiction, Mystery, Fantasy

Rating: 👻👻👻👻 (4 out of 4 boos)


What is the book about?

“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.”


What’s the main character like?

First-person narrator Beatrice stands out from her elite friends for a few reasons. We get a chance to see her non-rich life with her parents. We get to hear her not-always-positive observations of these friends. And we get to know her through her determination to leave the so-called Neverworld Wake. She is a very interesting character. Part of the joy of reading her story is figuring out how much she does or doesn’t belong with these friends of hers.


How scary is it?

Pessl has descriptions that set your teeth on edge. The book is nerve-wracking, thrilling, and kind of disturbing in that it makes you wonder what you would do in Beatrice’s situation. But it’s not scary in a horror novel sense.


Who might like the book?

If you’ve read Pessl’s two adult fiction books (both of which are amazing), you’ll probably like this one, even if you don’t read YA. If you like fantasy that’s more mind-bending and inventive and less elves and distant kingdoms, you’re bound to love this book.


What did I like best?

I can’t begin to tell you how much I love Pessl’s descriptions and writing style in general. If I could steal any author's writing voice, I think it would be hers.


What wasn’t my favorite?

I think there’s a bit of an older-reader aspect to this book that not all readers of typical YA would be accustomed to. Beatrice comes across as an old soul because Pessl is such a great writer. Not all teens may be able to relate to Beatrice, but she’s just finished her first year of college, so that actually makes sense.


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