Friday, May 17, 2019

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl Review by Priyanka Sarkhel (11th grade)




Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl is a psychological suspense novel made for young-adults.
The story follows Beatrice Hartley, narrating from her point-of-view, and her four best friends:
Kipling, Whitney, Cannon, and Martha. Following the mysterious death of Jim, Beatrice’s boyfriend,
these five friends reunite at Wincroft estate a year after graduation to recount the memories and
good times had when they all attended Darrow-Harker School.  
Beatrice, despite having drifted from her friends since leaving high school and dealing with the
grief of her boyfriend’s death, decides to revisit Wincroft in order to finally uncover the truth
behind what happened to Jim. Aware of the fact that her friends may know more than they are
letting on, Beatrice steps out of the comfort of her safe, Rhode Island home to pursue the mystery
that has haunted her for so long.
In a night of drunken hazes, the five friends leave a punk-rock concert in the pouring rain late
at night. When they return home, a strange man knocks at the door, calling himself The Keeper.
He tells them that time has paused, and the only way to press play is for them to make a daunting
decision.
This book was equal parts gripping as it was boring and repetitive. Pessl does a great job of
setting up the world the characters are in, but the basis of the story itself follows a Groundhog
Day pattern, in which the same day repeats itself over and over again. There are elements of sci-fi
and time travel that are thrown into this world, making it a bit more complex for the reader to
understand, but the way Pessl attempts to explain it was relatively decent, at least, for me it was.
However, to really understand what was going on, I had to re-read these explanations several
times, something that is really unappealing to me in terms of sci-fi.
I want to be able to easily understand how the world works the first time rather than having to
do extra work to really get it.
In terms of writing style, I felt that Pessl overused similes way too much. It’s one thing to mix in
some nice comparisons every now and then, but it’s another to compare unrelated things near
constantly that provide no deeper understanding whatsoever, but rather are there just because
they are. She wrote in a very romantic, poetic way that turned up empty and meaningless in the
long run.
The characters were stereotypical and unlikeable. Kipling, who is the gay character in this book,
is written in a very stereotypical and one-dimensional manner. The other characters all took the
place of high school cliches: nerd, rich brat, genius comedian. They too were boring characters,
lacking depth and dialogue. Even the protagonist herself, Beatrice, is almost just as stagnant and
flat. Overall, none of the characters in this book had an arc or a purpose. Basically, you end up
rooting for none of them.
In terms of pacing, this book is slow. You get nowhere very fast. While this is supposed to be a
thriller, mystery, suspense novel of sorts, there was very little thrill and very little suspense. I
lost the direction of the plot several times while reading this book, finding that I did not really
care about what was happening as much as I wanted to get to the end. I forgot about the mystery
Beatrice was trying to solve in regards to Jim’s death because in some parts, it felt as if that entire
plot point was shoved to the side. Then, all of a sudden, it was stuffed right back in our faces
towards the end of the book.
Amidst all of that mess, characters kept coming and going, leaving Beatrice alone most of the time.
It was hard to keep track of and was, frankly, annoying.
The climax felt anticlimactic, almost as if the entire story and uncovering all of the secrets the main
characters did were pointless because the truth isn’t really that intense at all. It was disappointing
to read, really.
While the book had potential, I did not enjoy it one bit. On a scale of 1-5, Neverworld Wake is a 2.

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