Sunday, October 21, 2012

Review: Night Beach by Kirsty Eagar


Title: Night Beach 

Author: Kirsty Eagar 

Rating: 2.5 Stars 

I read this book with Jasprit from The Reader's Den for a read-along and honestly, if it hadn't been for the fact that I had to read three chapters every day, I would have given up on this one a looooong time ago. Night Beach is, in many ways, the perfect October read. It opens up with an interesting premise and there are more than a few hair-raising events within the first couple of chapters to keep your attention and leave you hanging on the edge of your seat but unfortunately, that's all Night Beach does. You see, there's such a thing in a book called a plot and a purpose and while Night Beach built up to what seemed to be an intriguing pinnacle, it was ultimately the most anti-climatic peak I've come across and from there on out, Night Beach just lost me. 

Night Beach opens up by introducing us to Abby, our protagonist, who is hopelessly in love with her cousin, Kane. When Kane returns from a trip to an island, he is more different than usual. Not only does he exhibit strange, aggressive forms of behavior, but there seems to be a shadow following him. Abby, who is obsessed with Kane herself, cannot help but be worried about him. Yet, as time wears on, Abby will come to realize that there's more to stake here than Kane himself and moreover, that the "shadow" she sees near Kane is more than just a shadow...

Eagar's novel is written beautifully and if you're a fan of gothic literature, you'll definitely find something to love here. If, however, you prefer gothic literature similar to Jane Eyre where we have a mystery, plenty of red herrings, clues, and scary events, but eventually are told little tidbits to keep us going, then this isn't for you. Night Beach gives you a mystery. It gives you scary event after scary event. What it doesn't offer you, until the last quarter of this book really, is any type of clue, or hint, or tidbit to keep you going. I can essentially equate it to walking in a dark tunnel, not knowing where the tunnel ends or even if there's a light at the end of it; all you know is that you're lost, confused, and have no idea what's going on.

In addition to the lack of a plot - because I don't know how else to describe this! - the characters were unfortunately extremely flat too. Our main character, Abbie, only finally gains some depth and connection with the reader over half-way through the book and I am still no closer to understanding Kane than I was when I first picked up this book. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that people such as Abbie's friends, surfers, and even neighbors were more fleshed-out and easy to connect with than the main characters themselves, so that felt more than a little disjointed for sure. 

Night Beach was a book I really wanted to like, but ultimately I couldn't summon up much feeling for it. It started out well enough, but leaving me confused for dozens of chapters is not the way to make me appreciate a novel. If anything, I wish the majority of the middle of this book had simply been condensed into a few chapters, allowing me to experience more of the mystery and less of the build-up. Furthermore, the ending was just...I don't even know. It left me confused just when I thought I had everything figured out and while I'm sure it serves as a deeper meaning for something I'm missing - because in many ways this entire novels feels like one giant metaphor - I don't feel as if I'm losing out on much by not understanding it. I've read other books that have tackled on the eventual subject in this book better, and as such, Night Beach was just not the book for me. 

Quick Note: I sincerely hope this review doesn't put anyone off of reading Kirsty Eagar's novels. I adore her writing and Raw Blue is one of my favorite books ever, so I really can't recommend it enough. Read. It. Now. Seriously. You won't regret it. :)

28 comments:

  1. Sorry you didn't like this much, Keertana. I think I'm going to skip out on this one since a) I am a coward b) Flat protags are major turn-offs

    Still, great, honest review though! :D

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  2. I hesitated to buy this one because the premise didn't interest me as much, but I caved and got it anyway since I love Raw Blue. I'm planning to read it soon so I can review it as well, but I'm glad I read this first so that I have a heads up on the dark tunnel feeling. I'll just have to satisfy myself with Eagar's beautiful beautiful language.

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  3. Hah, this is so very strange! I share your opinion entirely, but I still ended up liking this. I know what you mean about being confused for so long, and not really understanding the ending - I felt (feel) exactly the same. And yet, I just accepted it as such. I'm not sure the ending WAS supposed to be more than it actually was. Maybe it was just meant to confuse and anger the reader. It was all very kafkian in a way, was it not?
    I admire you for expressing your opinion in such detail even when you dislike a book, but most of all, for always being very respectful about it.

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  4. I like the idea of this book too, especially since you said Gothic, but you know my annoyance with no-plots until late in the book and flat characters.

    Most likely I'll stay away from this book.

    Great review! :)

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  5. I felt EXACTLY the same way as you did after I read Night Beach. I actually never reviewed it because it just left me feeling so disappointed (like you I loved Raw Blue and was eagerly awaiting this book) that I really couldn't bring myself to review it. There were elements I liked, the eerie feel, the way the house creaked and groaned almost like it was alive (VERY Gothic in nature) but I really disliked Kane. I never once saw the attraction. Abbie was sort of 'meh'. I never felt like I could get behind her. And the whole supernatural element was just weird, imo.

    I do like how Eagar continues to represent the surf culture in Australia, I like that it's often dark and kinda dangerous and almost like a street gang. I enjoy the gritty urban feel you get with Eagar, Crowley's, and Marchetta's contemporary works. That's one of the reasons I enjoy reading today's Aussie works.

    Very nice review, Keertana. I couldn't have put it better than you had I reviewed it myself!

    Btw: I'm sending Renegade your way next! I should have it in the mail to you by tomorrow or Tuesday at the latest! I'm enjoying it quite a bit, it's pretty dark:)

    I see that your reading Dairy Queen. LOVED that book, woo hoo! for D.J. and girl power!:)

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  6. I have to admit, I was quite shocked to see your rating for this one! Before reading your review, everyone has LOVED IT. I love that you are honest about everything though; I surely wouldn't want to be lost and confused for more than half of the novel. Thanks for letting us know! And boring characters? :( That's sad to hear. Again, thanks for being honest, Keertana! I still want to give this one a try though, because of all the other positive reviews for this one. Brilliant review!

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  7. I love how honest you are in your review, Keertana. I've been curious about this book ever since I read Raw Blue, but I have to wonder if it would be for me. There's only so much stumbling around in the dark I can take before needing answers... Still, it sounds quite intriguing and I'm looking forward to giving it a try. :)

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  8. That's too bad since you've enjoyed the authors previous work.

    It happens though. Nice review and the book does sound like a good October read.

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  9. Love this review Keertana, you have summed up my feelings about the bok perfectly, I think I'm still stuttering in the dark about this in my review! It's a real shame that this didn't work out for us! Not to worry there's still several Aussie gems that will hopefully work out for us a lot more! :)

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  10. Well I'm going to trust your opinion on this one. It looks like Jasprit feels the same about this one, too. I don't like being confused throughout a story with no real answer in the end either. I'd like to try Raw Blue, though. I hear good things all around. Great review Keertana. :)

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  11. Oh nooo sorry this one fell flat for you! I've heard pretty good things but I don't know if I would be a fan of it since I'm not too terribly fond of gothic literature. Yay for it having beautiful writing though! I doubt I would be happy with the ending either. Thanks for your honest review!

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  12. I felt the same way as you! I loved Raw Blue but I just felt confused by this and the characters didn't do much for me. I loved the setting and beach stuff but that was about it. I never reviewed it cause I didn't really know what to say but pretty much what you said is what I felt. Hopefully her next one is more along the lines of Raw Blue.

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  13. Oh NOOOOO! I can't read this review because I am dying to read this book and I don't want anything to spoil it for me. But man. I hate that you didn't enjoy it. That's not a good sign. :(

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  14. Well, sometimes I can look over bad plots in favor of good characters but the lack of both puts me off from reading this book. I'm glad her other book was good though! Excellent review!

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  15. I had a feeling when I saw this review pop up in blog roll that when I came to see what you thought it probably wouldn't be good since I loved this book and we're opposites:) I agree there wasn't a specific plot per se, but that's kind of what I liked about it. It was all a big gray area and open a bit to interpretation:) Definitely not the book for everyone though. I am glad you loved Raw Blue, that's one of my favorite books as well! SO GOOD!

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  16. I read some early on negative reviews so I skipped this then a bu nch of good ones and now yours has me questioning again. I am okay with slow pace and the scary events interest me, and I love beautiful writing but I would have a hard time without clues and leads to follow. Ahh what to do....

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  17. Too bad! I know I want to read this author, but I don't think I'll start with this one. I have heard that they like the culture, but mixed on the book as a whole. I think I'll take your advice and read Raw Blue.

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  18. I don't think I've heard of this book before but I've heard the mixed reviews about Raw Blue. And aww, so sorry that this did not work well for you. I've never read Jane Eyre but I do love a good mystery. Thanks for the review though, Keertana. :)

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  19. I'm sorry that this book didn't work out for you, Keertana! I know how frustrating it is to read another book by an author whose previous book(s) you loved. This doesn't sound quite like the type of book I'd want to read either, but I have heard great things about Raw Blue so it sounds like that will definitely have to be the Kirsty Eager book I read!

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  20. After I finished Raw Blue (loved it!) I was thinking of reading this one but didn't, because it seemed like it didn't get great reviews. After reading your review, I'm glad I didn't waste my money on it! But I'm definitely looking forward to whatever Kirsty Eager writes next!

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  21. LOVE LOVE Raw Blue! I think I'll skip this one though. Great review as always!

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  22. COUSIN LOVE AHHHHH!!!

    I suppose that is common for the whole Gothic thing, but when it's set in present day and written in the present day, I just don't react well.

    Sorry this one was such a disappointment, Keertana! I can certainly see what you mean about needing something to keep you going, and it sucks that you felt the characters were flat.

    Mandee (Vegan YA Nerds) is actually sending me a copy of her Saltwater Vampires to read, so I'm glad you loved Raw Blue. I'm excited to try Kirsty Eagar!

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  23. I recently read Emily May's review and it seems you two had similar issues with this. Most specifically, the lack of plot and purpose, and when compared to Raw Blue (which explores the aftermath of extreme rape) a plot revolving around an obsessive romance and crush seems to me rather... lackluster. I think I'll skip this one and try Raw Blue instead- SO much praise for it! Fabulous, honest review, Keertana :)

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  24. I recently read Emily May's review and it seems you two had similar issues with this. Most specifically, the lack of plot and purpose, and when compared to Raw Blue (which explores the aftermath of extreme rape) a plot revolving around an obsessive romance and crush seems to me rather... lackluster. I think I'll skip this one and try Raw Blue instead- SO much praise for it! Fabulous, honest review, Keertana :)

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  25. I agree with you on this, Keertana! I read Night Beach a while ago and couldn't get into the book. Eagar's writing is gorgeous but I couldn't connect with the characters and the story. Although, I do want to read Raw Blue because I heard great things about it!

    Thank you for the awesome and honest review, Keertana ♥

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  26. Oh dear... I'm sorry this feel so flat for you --mesmerizing given you liked Raw Blue so much. Hmmm... I can't say I'm not intrigued by this one but... Eh. It sounds like it has a LOT of problems. Or... Just one very big rather glaring one.

    Keertana, amazing review. You write just as beautiully when you don't love a book as when you do. You're kind of amazing :D

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  28. he strongest element of this story for me is Abbie’s metamorphosis– and the person she becomes - as she emerges from this dark and strangely beautiful book.

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