I have thought a lot about how I feel about this book before giving it a review, but I think I’m ready now.
In many ways, this is a brilliant book; it’s fast-paced with a beguiling mystery and I loved all the parts about probability and theories and coincidences (like the universe being biased towards lower numbers), unlike others who have reviewed it, because I am a bit of a maths geek at heart.
I also loved Laureth. She was strong-minded and incredibly brave, as well as mind-numbingly stupid to fly out to America with her little brother on no more than a small worry. Her blindness added an extra element of jeopardy to the story, as well as giving me a better idea of what life is like for a sightless person, including her perspective on how most blind people are portrayed in the media.
I also enjoyed the mystery itself as it gathered pace and more and increasingly intriguing clues came to Laureth’s notice, and as it seemed that Laureth’s father was either losing his mind or there was something supernatural going on.
However, this is where my review starts to go downhill a little. After all that build up, I found the solution to the ‘mystery’ very anticlimactic. It just made the whole book seem kind of pointless.
There’s also the Benjamin Effect, which is just strange. It works well enough within the story, but I don’t really see the point in actually including it, as almost everything would be the same without it. It doesn’t even really make any sense. I feel like he just added it in in order for them to get through the airport easily.
While most of Marcus Sedgwick’s writing was fairly stylish, there were instances where I just got annoyed with him. I know its narrator is sixteen years old and therefore isn’t a perfect writer, but all her explanations that she doesn’t mean funny ha-ha, but funny odd got on my nerves. Seriously, she does it three or four times in the book. I can work it out from the context, thank you very much! A similar thing to this was her obsession with pointing every time she used the word ‘thing’ because apparently her English teacher didn’t like it, but I’m certain that most people wouldn’t care too much, or even notice. This, I’m assuming, was only added to make Sedgwick’s little chapter message work, so that he could start a chapter with the word ‘thing’.
There were also a couple of instances of exaggeration which made me think ‘oh great, this is getting exciting now!’ and then turned out to be nothing at all. For instance, this line when the plane lands:
“And then we landed in New York, and before I knew it, everything went freaky, and the last thing I was sure of was that we’d ever be fine again.”
Now, I read that and was expecting them to be kidnapped or attacked or something else suitably exciting, but no. If you don’t want to know what happens at the airport (very little) skip this paragraph. They get held up for a few minutes and then Benjamin’s special power thing (which Laureth is used to) gets them through. The end. That’s it. Nothing which warrants that sentence. I think there were one or two similar instances which I can’t think of right now, but they just grated on me.
All in all, it’s an alright book. I read it very quickly and enjoyed most of it, but I don’t think I’ll bother keeping it.