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. :)