Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Edge of Nowhere (Book Review)

The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George
# 1 in the Whidbey Island Saga series

Audiobook: Narrated By Amy McFadden

With this book, Elizabeth George takes a step aside from her famous series of Inspector Lynley detective mysteries set in Britain, and enters into a rather different genre: Mystery for young adults, with a sprinkle of ‘paranormal’ on top. The story is also set in in the United States for a change; and more specifically Whidbey Island, Washington.

At the centre of the story we have a teenage girl with the (apparently inherited) ability to hear other people’s thoughts – or ‘whispers’, as she calls them. Not always enough to make out what it means: what she hears is more like what’s uppermost in someone’s mind, the things people keep saying to themselves (but not out loud, and not meant for others to hear).

As hearing everything that everyone is thinking is not always a blessing and can become rather tiresome, she is usually wearing a kind of reversed hearing aid device, providing her with a kind of white noise to help block out the thoughts coming from other people. When her stepfather finds out about her ability, he takes advantage of that for criminal purposes though; leading to a situation where the girl and her mother have to leave everything behind and flee from him, adapting new identities and names to make sure he does not find them. (All this is sketched rather briefly as background in the first chapter.)

Becca (as she now calls herself) is supposed to be staying for a while with an old friend of her mum’s, while the mother goes off to arrange a more permanent solution for them. Her mum puts her on the ferry to Whidbey Island, where the friend is supposed to meet her. However, no one is waiting for her; and when she tries to contact her mother on the cellphone, she gets no connection. So Becca is left entirely to her own devices when it comes to finding shelter and making friends in the new place.

One of the first people she makes acquaintance with is a boy or young man called Seth. He in turn puts her in contact with a woman named Debbie (with a somewhat obscure past), who runs a motel. She takes Becca in and lets her stay there in exchange for helping out a bit, in the motel and with looking after her grandchildren (of whom Debbie has the care). 

There is also another woman in the story who remains an even bigger mystery, because Becca never manages to pick up any of her thoughts/whispers at all. Another friend she makes is the adopted son of the town's deputy sheriff. He’s also mysterious, because from him Becca can only pick up one peculiar word, which he keeps repeating to himself over and over like a mantra (but it does not make any sense to Becca). And yet with this boy she feels a bond that seems to go deeper than with anyone else. And when he ends up in hospital in a coma, the mystery deepens. (Or at least is supposed to…)

Some of the mysteries get sorted out before the end; but not all. Presumably, some things are left intentionally as cliffhangers to keep readers hoping to find the answer in the next book. So far, three more books in the series have been published, but I have not read those – yet. (Whether I ever will, remains to be seen. Maybe if I happen to find those too at bargain price…)

In an afterword, Elizabeth George seems to be making a point of explaining that except for one or two slight alterations to suit her purposes, the setting of this novel is the real Whidbey Island, with a lot of research put into getting the details right. I have to say that to me (never having been there) those details matter very little; and there are other inconsistencies to the story that bother me a lot more.

While it may be easy enough to “see” the characters, events and environment play out in my mind (as in a film), I find the plot to be weak; and what there is, seems to be hanging too much on the thin thread of Becca’s ability to listen in on people’s thoughts – something which in itself does not seem to be very well developed. Moreover, we occasionally get to see events from for example Seth’s point of view instead of Becca’s. I think the story might (possibly) have felt more convincing if the narrative perspective had been kept consistent throughout.

Other reviews I read (after I had finished the book) also point out other weaknesses in the plot. For example, that it seems unlikely that no one at the school would have enquired further into Becca’s background (for a parent or legal guardian, for example!) before accepting her as a student.

Had this been a story by a new author, I may have been less critical (and more curious to read more to see if the story improved). But knowing this to be written by an already famous author of mysteries, I find it a bit disappointing. (And at the same time I’m also aware that with the Lynley series too, she does have a certain tendency to leave loose ends behind for the next book…)

Having listened to this book mostly as audio book, I have to say that I enjoyed Amy McFadden’s narration, though. While I’m more used to listening to British English, I appreciated the American accent with this one (because of the book being set in the US).

Weekend Reflections

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From a rainy day earlier in the week.
(The same maple tree reflected from different angles.)

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. . .

Weekend Reflections

Friday, October 28, 2016

Postcards for the Weekend – Anything You Wish

Oh, sorry… Did you say wish? I thought you said fish
(Just kidding!! I kind of picked the first card more or less at random; and as it looked like the squirrels hadn’t caught a lot of fish, I went looking for some more…)

160728-160801 from John 186

Beatrix Potter - The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin (1903).
 
“… they caught seven fat minnows as a present for Old Brown.”
[from John in England, July 2016]

160121-160129 from Ginny

© Geoffrey Grisso
[from Ginny in the US, 2016]

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RU-3536009 – from Russia, April 2015
(The printed text on the back is in Russian, but the sender translates it:
“I wish you happiness! Magic, like a blue bird, and a fairy like goldfish!”
- and adds that these comparisons are taken from Russian folk tales.)

Weekend Linky Party:

Thursday, October 27, 2016

On Top of the World

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Up on the top of our Town Park, you will find…

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… an Adventure!

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The miniature golf course is only open in the summer season.
In autumn I imagine it would be too much of an adventure just trying to find your golf ball among all the fallen leaves…

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Just looking down at all the autumn colours in the park from the top of the hill is still a kind of breathtaking adventure, though.

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. . .

(Thursday) Good Fences

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Outdoors Wednesday

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♫ ♫ ♫

Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Up the road around the bend
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
In the last outback, at the world's end

(From Bob Dylan’s Ain’t Talkin’ – Album: Modern Times)

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Outdoors Wednesday & Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

October Shades of Red

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Rose hips

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Yew berries

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(Photos from 23rd and 24th October.)

Our World Tuesday

Through My Lens

Ruby Tuesday Too

 

 

 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Postcards for the Weekend – Reflections on Water

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PT-443736 (from Portugal, 2015)
Claude Monet: London, Parliament with the Sun Breaking through Fog

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RU-3109703 (from Russia, 2014)
Nika Goltz: “Denmark – Copenhagen, colored paper, pastel, 1988.”

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TW-1298375 (from Taiwan, 2014)
Kaii Higashiyama (Japanese artist, 1908-1999)

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RU-4453799 (from Russia, 2016)
Watercolour by Danevich G.
St Petersburg, The Palace Square.

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RU-4553642 (from Russia, 2016)
Nevsky Prospekt near the Municipal Duma
(artist unknown to me)

I chose these painted reflections postcards because I knew where I had those… I’m sure I must have several photo reflection ones as well, but they’re not easily “findable” just now! (This Postcards for the Weekend meme is certainly giving me a lot to think about when it comes to the best way of organizing one’s postcard collection…)

 

Weekend Linky Party:

PS. Please Note: Two posts today (Weekend Postcards + Friday My Town)

Autumn Colours on a Rainy Day

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From the neighbourhood where I live; yesterday and today.

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