I picked up this book through the Kindle First programme. It’s the first time I’ve read a book through this program and, while I appreciate the advanced copy, I don’t know if I’ll bother reading a book it again. I do understand that this is a debut and it’s not that it was really bad – it just wasn’t very good.
After a plane crash, Lillian, Dave, Margaret and Kent are left stranded on a desert island. Two years later, the two remaining survivors – Lilian and Dave – are finally picked up by a rescue team, long after they had accepted the island as their home indefinitely. The two make a pact to never reveal the truth about what happened on that island.
The book opens well, with the line: “Sometimes you have to lie. Sometimes it’s the only way to protect the ones you love.” Lilian is back home, a while after her ordeal on the island, reflecting on how the events of the past few years have changed her. She’s preparing for a big television interview which will cover the crash and her time on the island, an interview that she’s resolved will be her last after the media frenzy which has surrounded her since her return.
The storyline flits between characters and time, alternating between Lillian and Dave’s perspectives, intercepting the real story of the events which took place on the island, with the fake lies the pair give the TV cameras. The device provides a stark contrast between the dramatic and dark events which took place on the island and the fabrications the two have built their lives on since. It also highlights how much they’ve become accustomed to the lies, even to the point where they sometimes take pleasure in keeping the truth from the world- “every successful lie made her feel invincible – for a moment, at least”.
I’m not going to spoil the book by recounting the events which take place on the island, but it involves illicit sex, lies and murder, all set against the backdrop of the day-to-day struggle for survival. The plot was strong, but somewhere along the line I lost interest. The dialogue and character development was weak – I didn’t really like or dislike Lillian and I probably mildly preferred Dave, but I wasn’t exactly enamoured with him either. The villain of the story seemed a little overdone, with no clear reason why he was the way he was.
However, what really got to me about this book was the ending. It was trite and contrived and nearly had me throwing my Kindle across the train in frustration. I think there’s a message in here somewhere about the danger of deceptions and how the truth can set you free – “Would the truth erase the past, leaving nothing more than a scar on her shoulder and some fading memories?” I’m not sure, I know some people loved this novel and I feel quite guilty slating a debut, but it was a little lost on me.