Book review: A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum


Title: A Woman is No Man

Author: Etaf Rum

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Harper

Publication date: 5th March 2019

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Summary:

“Palestine, 1990. Seventeen-year-old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining the suitors her father has chosen for her. Over the course of a week, the naïve and dreamy girl finds herself quickly betrothed and married, and is soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and strange new husband Adam, a pressure that intensifies as she begins to have children – four daughters instead of the sons Fareeda tells Isra she must bear.

Brooklyn, 2008. Eighteen-year-old Deya, Isra’s oldest daughter, must meet with potential husbands at her grandmother Fareeda’s insistence, though her only desire is to go to college. Deya can’t help but wonder if her options would have been different had her parents survived the car crash that killed them when Deya was only eight. But her grandmother is firm on the matter: the only way to secure a worthy future for Deya is through marriage to the right man.

But fate has a will of its own, and soon Deya will find herself on an unexpected path that leads her to shocking truths about her family – knowledge that will force her to question everything she thought she knew about her parents, the past, and her own future.

Set in an America at once foreign to many and staggeringly close at hand, A Woman Is No Man is a story of culture and honour, secrets and betrayals, love and violence. It is an intimate glimpse into a controlling and closed cultural world, and a universal tale about family and the ways silence and shame can destroy those we have sworn to protect.

My review:

“I was born without a voice, one cold, overcast day in Brooklyn, New York. No one ever spoke of my condition. I did not know I was mute until years later, when I opened my mouth to ask for what I wanted and realized no one could hear me.”

A Woman is No Man explores the controversies and hardships in Muslim women’s lives spanning three generations and two continents. The contrast between the two timelines is surprisingly negligible as the differences between Isra’s life in the Palestine and her daughter Deya’s life in New York 18 years later are not so conflicting as one would imagine. Although Isra hoped for change and the possibility to voice her desires, she discovers soon after her marriage and move to New York that little has changed from her life in Palestine. This is a running theme which becomes more sombre as the story line develops and I had to stop reading at several particularly harrowing moments which were too difficult to endure.

I was completely taken aback at some of the scenes. The mere fact that thousands of women across the world still live without even thinking about the possibility of breaking their traditions and dreaming of lives different to those of their ancestors was too much. It was poignant and distressing how each woman ultimately yearned for the same basic needs in life despite growing up in different places. Some were more determined to stick to their traditions than others but they all wished for freedom of speech and respect.

“A daughter was only a temporary guest, quietly awaiting another man to scoop her away, along with all her financial burden.”

The characters in A Woman is No Man were all extremely well developed and it was easy to form a bond with each of them. By the end I found myself sympathising with Fareeda, wishing that Isra could escape in search for a better life and hoping that Deya would follow her dreams. The ending hit hard and left me numb and for a long time afterwards I struggled to concentrate on any other book. It was a perfect representation of these women’s struggles and painfully illustrated how precious and fragile life is.

Beautifully told with passion and care, A Woman is No Man captured my attention from the first word and left me experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions until the end. I am sure that this book has touched many readers and can only hope with this review that I encourage more people to read it.

“It took more than one woman to do things differently. It took a world of them.”

Blog tour: Crossing in Time by D.L. Orton

Title: Crossing in Time

Author: D.L. Orton

Genre: Science Fiction / Romance

Publication date: 21st April 2015

My rating: ★ ★ ★

Summary:

“When offered a one-way trip to the past, Isabel sacrifices everything for a chance to change the rapidly deteriorating present–and see her murdered lover one last time. When she arrives twenty years in the past, buck naked and mortally wounded, she has 24 hours to convince a stunned but enraptured nineteen-year-old to change their future. Definitely easier said than done, as success means losing him to a brainy, smart-mouthed bombshell (her younger self), and that’s a heart breaker, save the world or not.

This offbeat tale is about falling madly in love when one is too cynical for such things, letting go of pessimism when it’s the last life jacket on a sinking ship, and racing against the clock when one doesn’t have the proper footwear. It’s a coming-of-age story for old fogeys, a how-to-make-love guide for diehard celibates, and a laugh-out-loud tragedy with a hopeful twist.”

My review:

Unaware of the mayhem that is about to occur and change the fate of humanity, Isabel runs into her old love, Diego, and the two quickly relive their relationship. The first part of the book focused solely on the feelings and connection between these two characters, briefly pausing on their past mistakes and reflecting on their choices. Their love story didn’t seem too far fetched and I appreciated how they became a stronger couple by recognising their errors and working on their differences.

The time travel element was introduced far into the book after allowing enough time for the reader to connect with the main characters. I was dubious at first that the focus on time travel would be too forced however I was pleasantly surprised at how well developed this side of the story was.

Unfortunately I lost the rhythm at the part where Isabel travels back in time to meet Diego. There were certain moments which felt too uncomfortable as Isabel attempts to prepare Diego for the moment they will “meet” in his reality and almost drills into him how he should act and think around her. I realise that Diego was much younger here and Isabel was pressed for time as she tried to save humanity, but there were many scenes where I thought they were completely different characters.

Crossing in Time explores complex relationships and human emotions and offers the perfect mix of Science Fiction and Romance. I found a few inconsistencies between the time travel versions of the main characters however I still enjoyed the book despite this setback. It filled me with hope and positive energy and posed a series of important questions about what it means to be human.

Many thanks to Dave at TheWriteReads for providing an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Crossing in Time is out to buy now!

Book review: The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver


Title: The Two Lives of Lydia Bird

Author: Josie Silver

Genre: Romance

Publisher: Penguin

Publication date: 30th January 2020

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Summary:

“Lydia and Freddie. Freddie and Lydia. They’ve been together for almost a decade, and Lydia thinks their love is indestructible.

But she’s wrong. Because on her 27th birthday, Freddie dies in a car accident.

So now it’s just Lydia, and all she wants to do is hide indoors and sob ’til her eyes fall out. But Lydia knows that Freddie would want her to live her life well. So, enlisting the help of his best friend and her sister Elle, she takes her first tentative steps into the world and starts to live – perhaps even to love – again.

But then something inexplicable happens, which gives her another chance at her old life with Freddie. A life where none of the tragic events of the past few months have happened. But what if there’s someone in in her new life who wants her to stay?

My review:

Lydia’s life is turned upside down when her fiancé, Freddie, is killed in a car accident. This book follows her feelings ranging from grief, despair and disbelief as she struggles to come to terms with the unexpected turn of events and losing the love of her life so suddenly. The beautiful and raw storyline captured my attention right from the start and I liked how the focus never strayed far from the emotions Lydia felt and her attempt to pick herself up. I quickly warmed to her character and wished that she would eventually find happiness again.

An interesting and fitting storytelling element in The Two Lives of Lydia Bird is the dual story lines as Lydia drifts from reality to a dreamlike state where Freddie is still alive. Although she is somewhat aware that she is dreaming, she yearns to stay in her dreams to avoid facing the harsh reality. This was a powerful writing tool and one which allowed for the reader to  get to know Freddie while also connecting with Lydia.

At around the halfway mark Lydia knows that she must find her way back to reality and her struggles and worries become real. I liked the introduction of the minor characters, from her family members to her coworkers, and was sincerely hoping that they would be enough to help her through her hardships. The pacing felt just right as the author takes us on an emotional journey over several months as Lydia connects with the outside world and deals with her grief using various coping mechanisms.

There were only a few ways that this book could end in order to both please the reader and give closure to Lydia and I guessed it correctly from the beginning which ultimately left me a little disappointed. Nevertheless, it was perhaps the only satisfactory ending and I understand the author’s decision to follow this path. Josie Silver has delivered another heartbreaking and tender novel with a set of beautifully complex characters. I thoroughly enjoyed her previous novel, One Day in December, and feel the same way about The Two Lives of Lydia Bird. I can’t recommend her writing enough to readers who seek emotional and powerful books which explore life’s burdens with sensitivity and compassion.

Book review: I Know Your Secret by Ruth Heald


Title: I Know Your Secret

Author: Ruth Heald

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication date: 10th June 2020

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Summary:

You’re not who you say you are. Neither is she.

She thinks she’s got away with it. She thinks she’s turned over a new leaf, that the past is in the past.

She thinks she’s finally safe, with her perfect son, her devoted husband, and her immaculate suburban house.

She believes the memories of what she did all those years ago are confined to her bedside drawer, tucked carefully away.

She believes she deserves a second chance.

I have to know, how can she live with herself? Isn’t she haunted by the wail of the alarm, the smoke in her lungs, the echoing scream? Doesn’t she lose sleep over the way the flames licked the walls, devouring everything they touched? Why hasn’t the guilt eaten her alive?

So how can I forget? How can I forgive?

Because I know her secret. And I’m not letting her get away with it.

My review:

I devoured this book in only a few sittings. It was incredibly gripping and enticing and I was left swiftly turning the pages, eager to find out if my suspicions about the two main characters were right.

Danielle and Beth play a neverending guessing game as both are convinced that the other wants something sinister. Beth, a marriage counselor looking for more work, is struggling in her own relationship and hopes to distract herself by taking on more work. She warms to Danielle at first but after her past and relationship with her husband are slowly revealed Beth starts to wonder if her therapy sessions with Danielle are doing more harm than good. I really enjoyed the cat and mouse game between these two characters and how the author developed an array of complex personality traits in both of them.

The plot was filled with deceitful schemes and mysteries and took several unexpected twists. There were plenty of lies and secrets and many complex family relationships which I wasn’t expecting but enjoyed nevertheless. The transitions between the two characters’ points of view in each chapter were smooth and allowed the reader to get to know both characters without removing the element of suspense.

Although I couldn’t guess the big twist, I believe that it could have been extended for a few more chapters as the ending felt rushed. However, the satisfying epilogue was enough to convince me that I had read an absorbing and memorable thriller with brilliant character development and unexpected twists. I highly recommend I Know Your Secret to anyone itching to read a suspenseful thriller and I am excited to read more by Ruth Heald.

I Know Your Secret is out to buy today!

Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Blog tour: Catalyst by Tracy Richardson

Title: Catalyst

Author: Tracy Richardson

Genre: YA Science Fiction / Fantasy

Publication date: 2nd June 2020

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Summary:

Marcie is spending her summer working on the archeological dig that her mother runs: Angel Mounds, a site of an ancient indigenous civilization. Soon after she arrives, she meet some intriguing individuals, and becomes wrapped up in a supernaturally-charged mission to save the planet from the destruction man has brought upon itself.

Marcie Horton has a sixth sense. Not in the “I see dead people” way, but . . . well, maybe a little. She feels a sort of knowing about certain things that can’t be explained-an intuition that goes beyond the normal. Then there was that one summer four years ago, when she connected with a long-departed spirit . . . But nothing that incredible has happened to Marcie since.
This summer, Marcie is spending time working at Angel Mounds, the archeological dig her mother heads, along with her brother, Eric, and his girlfriend, Renee. The dig is the site of an ancient indigenous civilization, and things immediately shift into the paranormal when Marcie and her teammates meet Lorraine and Zeke. The two mysterious dig assistants reveal their abilities to access the Universal Energy Field with their minds-something Marcie knows only vaguely that her brother has also had experience with. Marcie learns how our planet will disintegrate if action is not taken, and she and her team must decide if they are brave enough to help Lorraine and Zeke in their plan to save Mother Earth, her resources, and her history. It looks like the summer just got a lot more interesting.

My review:

Catalyst follows Marcie, a young girl spending the summer at an archaeological dig. As such, the setting was well constructed and different to what I expected. There was some insight into the archaeological aspect which I found interesting and would have preferred a deeper focus on this even though I realise that it isn’t the main theme of the book.

The author tackles the difficult subject matter of fracking and environmental change with enthusiasm and weaves it into the main story line with ease. However, it sometimes felt too superficial and hurried as the point of view bounced from character to character in an attempt to capture different opinions on this controversial subject.

The magic and fantasy elements were well incorporated and developed and I liked how the characters didn’t immediately warm to their newfound powers. However, I wish that these powers were explored at a greater level as by the end I still had many questions about how they work.

Catalyst brings an element of youthful fun with the romance and setting while also analysing several extensive topics. This has its positive side but it also seemed like there were too many factors to juggle in such a short space and by the end I felt like the author only briefly touched on some of these topics even though the character development was strong. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the book and the author’s courage to highlight such a thought-provoking message.

Many thanks to Dave at TheWriteReads for providing an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Catalyst is out to buy now!

Book review: 29 Seconds by T.M. Logan


Title: 29 Seconds

Author: T.M. Logan

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Publisher: Zaffre

Publication date: 25th January 2018

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Summary:

Give me one name. One person. And I will make them disappear . . .

When Sarah rescues a young girl in trouble, she expects nothing in return. But her act of bravery puts a powerful and dangerous man in her debt. He lives by his own brutal code, and all debts must be repaid – in the only way he knows how.

He offers Sarah a way to solve a desperate situation with her intolerable boss. A once-in-a-lifetime deal that will make all her problems disappear.

No consequences. No comeback. No chance of being found out.

All it takes is a 29 second phone call.

Because everyone has a name to give. Don’t they?

My review:

From the blurb I was expecting a typical thriller where the main character is frantically trying to find a missing person and several other characters hope he stays missing. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the premise of 29 Seconds is much more intricate and involves a range of complex and sensitive themes which were boldly developed.

Sarah is an interesting main character although some of her actions are certainly questionable. Faced with a difficult decision of making one person in her life disappear after witnessing and preventing a possible crime, she weighs up her options carefully and picks the one person who she knows she won’t miss. Her decision making assumes a considerable chunk of the book from which I understood that she was careful and calculating in her actions. However, I was somewhat disappointed that these qualities slowly disappeared and she became uncertain and reckless, a common and overdone trait in main characters of the genre.

The remaining characters in 29 Seconds all played an important role in developing the story line and dipped in and out with intention. In particular, the portrayal of her boss, Alan Hawthorne, was courageous in both motive and execution. It is revealed from the beginning that he has misogynistic tendencies in the work place and I liked how the author didn’t hold back on developing this scandalous side of him.

Several hard-hitting topics, such as sexual harassment, were introduced in a tasteful manner without ever feeling too overwhelming or insensitive. Sarah’s thoughts echo many women who face similar situations and the portrayal of this topic through the main character was expertly done. It also broaches several important and controversial questions about how we react in the work place and the efforts we would undertake to expose injustice.

The pace seemed just right and even though the plot spans a relatively short amount of time, the chain of events develop quickly. The twist in the end was unexpected although it felt a little unbelievable and did not tie in completely with Sarah’s personality. Nevertheless, it seemed fitting and a solid end to her troubles.

29 Seconds is an exciting thriller which managed to capture my attention from the start. The characters and plot worked well in sync and I was positively surprised by the ending. This is a noble addition to T.M. Logan’s books and I highly encourage other fans of the genre to read it.

Book review: Year One by Nora Roberts


Title: Year One

Author: Nora Roberts

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Piatkus

Publication date: 5th December 2017

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Summary:

“They call it The Doom – a deadly pandemic that starts on a cold New Year’s Eve in the Scottish countryside. There’s something mysterious about the virus and the way it spreads. As billions fall sick and die, some survivors find themselves invested with strange, unexpected abilities.

Lana, a New York chef, has the power to move things and people with her will. Fred can summon light in the darkness. Jonah, a paramedic, sees snatches of the future in those he touches. Katie gives birth to twins, and suspects that she has brought fresh magic into the world, along with new life.

But The Doom affects people differently. Along with the light, a dark and terrifying magic will also rise. As the remaining authorities round up the immune and the ‘Uncannies’ for testing, Lana, Katie and others flee New York in search of a safe haven. The old world is over, and Year One has begun.

My review:

Year One had been sitting on my shelf for a while and I finally decided to read it in March to try and distract myself from the surreal situation the world was suddenly thrown in. Unfortunately I had completely forgotten the premise of the book and didn’t recall that it revolves around a deadly pandemic until I was into the first chapter.

Luckily the writing style and atmosphere created in the first few chapters were enough to hold my attention and I realised that despite the stark similarities to the current situation in the world, I needed to know more about The Doom. This mysterious disease sweeps across the world with extraordinary speed and a few months into the New Year the world is in a dreamlike state where half the population has been wiped out and countries are run by tenth in line leaders. The knowledge that the pandemic we are experiencing in real life has lower repercussions and is not as deadly was slightly reassuring and actually made me feel safer so perhaps it wasn’t the worst idea to read this book during lockdown.

My struggles with Year One became apparent at the midpoint where too many characters are introduced and it becomes difficult to focus on each one. This diminished any possibility of character development although there were many opportunities. I struggled to remember the relationships and connections between the characters and none of them stood out. However, there was an ongoing sense of community and generosity as the group attempted to rebuild their life in a secluded area and decide on new laws to abide by.

In terms of the fantasy element, the author did an excellent job of incorporating this into the new post-pandemic reality. At first I enjoyed the mysterious nature of the characters’ powers, known as the Uncanny, but I was hoping that more details would be revealed on how and why they are gifted with these powers. Unfortunately even by the end it still wasn’t clear why some characters have these skills and others don’t and how they work exactly. This provides the perfect opportunity to a sequel but I would have preferred a deeper insight into the Uncanny as it seemed overlooked.

Nora Roberts dips into the Fantasy genre with confidence and I truly enjoyed reading a new and different style of books to her usual. Although certain aspects such as the characters and fantasy element could have been addressed better, Year One paves way to a solid start in the series and poses important questions related to the true meaning of humanity and solidarity. Many will enjoy reading this book and I can highly recommend it to anyone considering exploring the genre.

Book review: What Lies Between Us by John Marrs


Title: What Lies Between Us

Author: John Marrs

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publication date: 15th May 2020

My rating: ★ ★ ★

Summary:

Nina can never forgive Maggie for what she did. And she can never let her leave.

They say every house has its secrets, and the house that Maggie and Nina have shared for so long is no different. Except that these secrets are not buried in the past.

Every other night, Maggie and Nina have dinner together. When they are finished, Nina helps Maggie back to her room in the attic, and into the heavy chain that keeps her there. Because Maggie has done things to Nina that can’t ever be forgiven, and now she is paying the price.

But there are many things about the past that Nina doesn’t know, and Maggie is going to keep it that way—even if it kills her.

Because in this house, the truth is more dangerous than lies.“

My review:

What Lies Between Us is a riveting thriller filled with deceit, riddles and secrecy and built on the most twisted mother-daughter relationship one could possibly imagine. If you thought you have experienced dysfunctional relationships in other thrillers then brace yourselves because John Marrs brings out the anarchic and twisted side of Maggie and Nina’s bond and leaves the reader questioning all their actions and thoughts.

The storytelling in What Lies Between Us is flawless. The plot is divided in chapters with alternating POVs between Nina and Maggie and the first person narrative works extremely well in establishing a connection between the reader and the characters to help understand their actions. It has the perfect balance between character development and plot and keeps the reader guessing as both characters’ motives are slowly revealed through the multiple unanticipated twists.

I find relating to unlikable and unreliable characters extremely difficult in thrillers yet I was surprised to find that there were parts of both characters that I could connect with. They both make some difficult choices but with the intention to protect and help their loved ones. I was constantly undecided on which character was evil and unbalanced and with each twist I became more convinced that I had figured out their backstory until the shocking turn of events at the end which left me speechless. Looking back, I realise that it would have been impossible to guess the reasons behind their actions and figure out the ending as it is so twisted and unexpected.

After reading The Passengers by John Marrs, I was convinced that I had discovered a possible new favourite author and this book confirmed my suspicions. I was thrilled to hear that it has already sold TV rights and can already imagine some of the dark scenes from this book reproduced on the big screen. I highly recommend this book to all fans of the genre and cannot wait to read John Marrs’ previous books.

What Lies Between Us is now out to buy!

Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing a free advanced reader’s copy in exchange for my honest review.

Book review: The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal


Title: The Doll Factory

Author: Elizabeth Macneal

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Picador

Publication date: 2nd May 2019

My rating: ★ ★ ★

Summary:

London. 1850. The Great Exhibition is being erected in Hyde Park and among the crowd watching the spectacle two people meet. For Iris, an aspiring artist, it is the encounter of a moment – forgotten seconds later, but for Silas, a collector entranced by the strange and beautiful, that meeting marks a new beginning.

When Iris is asked to model for pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, she agrees on the condition that he will also teach her to paint. Suddenly her world begins to expand, to become a place of art and love.

But Silas has only thought of one thing since their meeting, and his obsession is darkening . . .”

My review:

The Doll Factory takes place in 1850s London and narrates the touching story of Iris and Rose, two sisters stuck in a never ending cycle of misery. Written with flair and confidence, the beginning of the story sucked me in immediately and I was transported to a London so different to the one I know and eager to immerse myself in the dark and gothic setting.

Iris hopes for more than the shabby setting and poor working conditions of painting dolls and dreams of a faraway life filled with opportunities. The possibility of escape surfaces when she is asked to model for pre-Raphaelite painter Louis Foster who she bargains to model for in exchange for art lessons. This engrossing beginning outlined an array of possibilities for Iris who soon found herself detached from her sister and entered a world completely different to the one she knew. I found her journey through London while getting to know Louis a marvellous adventure and truly connected with her character.

Unfortunately towards the halfway mark certain events linked to Silas, a taxidermist infatuated with Iris, were enough to put me off and I skimmed through a large chunk of the book. Although the writing was sharp and articulate, the descriptions involving killing and stuffing animals were too distasteful and not to my liking. The connection between Silas and Iris was also too constrained and not a story arc I appreciated.

I loved the gothic and mysterious setting but was not expecting such a dark and twisted turn of events. The characterisation was powerful and the pace seemed right but by skipping through several parts I lost the momentum and this ultimately shaped the book to be an average read for me despite the strong start. The Doll Factory has the potential to charm many readers with its setting and storytelling and I would recommend it to fans of period features and lots of drama but it could be a difficult read for readers who don’t digest gory details well.

Book review: Recursion by Blake Crouch


Title: Recursion

Author: Blake Crouch

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Macmillan

Publication date: 13th June 2019

My rating: ★ ★ ★

Summary:

What if someone could rewrite your entire life?

‘My son has been erased.’

Those are the last words the woman tells Barry Sutton before she leaps from the Manhattan rooftop.

Deeply unnerved, Barry begins to investigate her death only to learn that this wasn’t an isolated case. All across the country, people are waking up to lives different from the ones they fell asleep to. Are they suffering from False Memory Syndrome, a mysterious, new disease that afflicts people with vivid memories of a life they never lived? Or is something far more sinister behind the fracturing of reality all around him?

Miles away, neuroscientist Helena Smith is developing a technology that allows us to preserve our most intense memories and relive them. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss or the birth of a child.

Barry’s search for the truth leads him on an impossible, astonishing journey as he discovers that Helena’s work has yielded a terrifying gift . . .”

My review:

“If memory is unreliable, if the past and the present can simply change without warning, then fact and truth will cease to exist. How do we live in a world like that?”

Reading Recursion for me felt like a profound investigation of what it really means to be human and alive and living in the here and now. It posed some of the most ambitious questions that surround humanity and the consequences of our actions. After finishing the first few chapters I was already convinced that I would soon be immersed in an exciting tale of deception and turbulence and could not wait for the exciting journey ahead.

The premise of Recursion is simple enough to captivate the reader right from the start. Imagine a world where your memories never existed and suddenly you are hit with the reality that you are not who you are and you have never met the people you most love. This stark beginning was enough to hold my attention and leave me wanting more. The phenomenon was described as False Memory Syndrome, a rapidly spreading condition which NYPD detective Barry Sutton is investigating. I thoroughly enjoyed following Barry in his quest to expose the secrets which powerful forces behind the syndrome are hiding. Through an unusual set of circumstances Barry meets with Helena Smith, a neuroscientist who invented the device behind the phenomenon. What follows is an extraordinary set of events as Barry and Helena attempt to stop the evil powers who are trying to use the device to bring out the worst in humanity.

The dual timelines worked extremely well at the beginning and supported the plot effectively. In particular, Helena’s POV was pivotal in understanding both why and how she developed the chair which can be used to retrace, delete and alter memories. Several minor characters are introduced and each played an important role in developing the chair and challenging its function as a machine that could change perceptions of time and space. Unfortunately, I became lost in the alternating timelines towards the middle and there were several chapters where I wasn’t sure which storyline I was following and had to read back which detracted from the reading experience. Nevertheless, I was incredibly impressed with the author’s ability to build tension and create multiple worlds through the various timelines.

Ultimately what made Recursion an exceptional read was the moral aspect which the author introduced at the start. I was left wondering what would happen if the chair existed in this world and fell into the wrong hands, as it did in the book, as well as the endless possibilities of rewriting memories and how that would affect humanity. This was my first book by Blake Crouch but my fascination with his ability to build a world so similar yet different to ours has encouraged me to order his previous book, Dark Matter, and if it is anything like Recursion then I am sure that I have discovered a new favourite author.

“We think we’re perceiving the world directly and immediately, but everything we experience is this carefully edited, tape-delayed reconstruction.”