Carissa Ann Lynch – Whisper Island

Carissa Ann Lynch – Whisper Island

Riley, Sammy, Mia and Scarlett are art students at Monroe and working on projects together when one day, Sammy suggests a trip to Whisper Island, Alaska, where they could spend their holidays for free and profit from its remoteness and special surroundings for their artwork. Even though the others are not too keen on spending summer in the cold north, they agree and see it as an adventure. When they are on their way, Sammy announces that her brother Rob would join them, not just does she thus destroy the girls trip, but especially Mia is angry, her best friend should know that after their breakup, the wounds that Rob had caused never really healed. When they finally arrive, it is not just Rob but also his new girlfriend Opal awaiting them in a run-down house. But not only their lodging is a disappointment, also their boat to travel to the next town is out of order and then their whole trip turns into a nightmare when they realise that they are obviously not alone on the island since a murderer is on the loose killing one after the other.

Carissa Ann Lynch has chosen a classic locked-room setting which strongly reminded me of Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None”. Even though the students are not total strangers, they evidently know much less from each other than they thought before their departure. The story is narrated alternatingly from the points of view of the characters thus providing insight in their hidden thoughts and offering the reader, on the hand, clues to what could be behind all this murdering but, on the other hand, also a lot of red herrings which keeps suspense high.

The present events on the island are surely the main focus of the plot, however, the girls’ past, the things they hide from the others – and astonishingly, each of them has quite a story to offer – are much more interesting to unravel. Sammy soon hints at the fact that she did not suggest the trip out of the blue but actually had a good reason to vanish from Memphis and so had her brother. Mia seems to have been in a scandal a couple of years ago which she hopes the others have never heard of but of which the anniversary is close and threatening to make the others a see side of her she prefers to keep hidden. Scarlett struggles with drug abuse and hopes to get sober in the weeks on the island. Riley is new to the group and she is also the one who is quite closed up not giving away too much form herself and her family, so, what does she have to hide?

I liked the atmosphere on the hardly welcoming island which immediately gives you the creeps and fits perfectly to the plot. Speculating about why the six might have been chosen as targets was great fun and finally was revealed and explained. An entertaining and fast-paced mystery following a classic structure.

Marieke Nijkamp – Before I let go

Marieke Nijkamp – Before I let Go

For sixteen years, Corey and Kyra have been friends. Together they roamed the forests of Lost Creek, Alaska, went to school together and spent their free time together. Then, six months ago, Corey moved away with her mother and younger brother and left Kyra alone. Alone in a town who hated the girl because she was different. Her maniac-depressive behaviour irritated the 250 inhabitants of the small city; she was at best invisible, at worst an outsider. Two days before Corey is due to visit, Kyra is found dead. Beneath the ice of a lake in mid-winter. For Corey this is not only a shock, but unbelievable. Kyra cannot be dead and she would never have killed herself so shortly before her arrival. Her suspicion grows the closer she comes to her former hometown and finally there, she is not greeted with unanimous joy.

Marieke Nijkamp’s novel is set against the Alaskan winter which perfectly reflects the mood of the novel. The atmosphere is gloomy and often spooky throughout the story and at times it actually gave me the creeps. It is a wonderful merge of a young adult novel and a thriller.

Yet, first of all, it is a novel about friendship. Corey remembers her time with Kyra, the good ones and the bad ones and she is ruminating about the question if she has left her friend, left her alone with the ill-natured people of Lost Creek who resented her with her escapades. Could she have prevented a possible suicide or even murder of her friend? A tough question for a sixteen-year-old girl alone and face to face with a whole hostile town.

On the other hand, it is a novel about life in a reclusive community who considers people who moved away outsiders after only a short time and who are hard to anybody who does not fit in their world-view. Where people do not talk much to somebody who does not belong to the inner circle. And a community who lives to its own laws and values. After only a couple of months, Corey does not understand them anymore, does not recognise the people she once loved anymore.

Looming above all this is the question what happened to Kyra. Did she really change after Corey left? Did the people actually change in the last couple of weeks? Or is this just the story Corey is told to hide the truth.

The author has a great talent in making you feel with the protagonist, I experienced this when I read her novel “This is where it ends” about a school shooting, too. “Before I let go” is a quick read that I enjoyed a lot.

Dave Eggers – Bis an die Grenze

Dave Eggers – Bis an die Grenze

Josie steht vor den Trümmern ihres Lebens. Eine Klage hat ihr ihre Zahnarztpraxis geraubt, von ihrem Mann ist sie getrennt und wenig hält sie mehr an der Vergangenheit und in der Heimatstadt. Kurzerhand packt sie die beiden Kinder, den 8-jährigen Paul und die 5-jährige Ana und flieht mit ihnen nach Alaska. Mit einem Camper möchte sie den Bundesstaat erkunden und in der Weite des Landes zur Ruhe kommen. Doch die Reise ist beschwerlicher als gedacht und aus dem Abenteuerurlaub wird bald schon der Kampf ums Überleben: Überleben der Erinnerungen, Überleben gegen bösartige Menschen, Überleben von Naturgewalten.

Konnte mich Dave Eggers in der Vergangenheit mit „The Circle“ und „A Hologram for the King“ begeistern, war dieser Roman auch für mich als Hörerin eine Herausforderung. Zwar ist der Plot durchaus interessant und bietet einige spannende Momente, aber die Figurenzeichnung war unsäglich. War Mae Holland in „The Circle“ bereits naiv bis dümmlich, übertrifft Josie sie noch um Welten. Die studierte Zahnärztin, von der man rationales und bedachtes Handeln erwarten sollte, bringt sich und die Kinder immer wieder in größte Gefahr durch ihr blödsinniges und gedankenloses Handeln. Man möchte sie anschreien und ihr zurufen, wie absurd dumm sie sich verhält und wünscht sich geradezu, dass Paul und Ana nicht länger in ihrer Obhut bleiben dürfen.

Was als Selbstfindungstrip angekündigt war, ist eine Tour de Farce einer kopflosen Frau, die vor dem Leben davonrennt und bei all den gestellten Aufgaben nichts lernt. Dass ihr Sohn mehr verstand zu besitzen scheint als sie, ist erschreckend. Leider leidet darunter das Hörvergnügen, denn man kann sich kaum auf die Handlung konzentrieren, ist man so damit beschäftigt, denn nächsten Ausfall dieser Mutter zu verarbeiten.