Aug 24, 2021

Review--Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl


Once upon a time, back at Darrow-Harker School, Beatrice Hartley and her five best friends were the cool kids, the beautiful ones. Then the shocking death of Jim - their creative genius and Beatrice's boyfriend - changed everything.

One year after graduation, Beatrice is returning to Wincroft - the seaside estate where they spent so many nights sharing secrets, crushes, plans to change the world - hoping she'll get to the bottom of the dark questions gnawing at her about Jim's death.

But as the night plays out in a haze of stilted jokes and unfathomable silence, Beatrice senses she's never going to know what really happened.

Then a mysterious man knocks on the door. Blithely, he announces the impossible: time for them has become stuck, snagged on a splinter that can only be removed if the former friends make the harshest of decisions.

Now Beatrice has one last shot at answers... and at life.

And so begins the Neverworld Wake.


I finally picked up Marisha Pessl's Neverworld Wake! It's a book that has been calling to me since its release and I finally found myself with time for it! Sadly, it wasn't all what I expected and didn't have that eerie sensation that I remembered reading about three years ago.

We open to Beatrice who is starting the summer after her first year of college. It was a rough year as the year prior to college her boyfriend was found dead and things with her once close knit group of friends was forever changed. So that summer she decided to try to mend fences between them and hang out. Things were going just fine, until the moment they weren't. An accident happens and soon the teens find themselves trapped in a sort of limbo between living and dead.

Guided by an old man they come to know at the Keeper, they must all come to an unanimous vote, where one of them gets to live and the rest will move onto their afterlife. And so begins the what is sort of like an undead version of Groundhog Day where the teens are reliving the same day they died over and over again. The time of their accident is sort of the starting over point. After days and days and days of wasting time doing not much of anything but goofing off, Beatrice finally realizes that they are meant to solve the murder of their friend, and her boyfriend, Jim.

This book was just a bit weird for me, which coming from me is saying something. Sadly, though it was weird, it was also kind of slow. The whole reliving the same day over and over again, got old despite Beatrice's snooping on her friends to see what they were doing with their time.

When the group finally bands together and try to solve the death of their friend that was ruled a suicide things definitely got a bit more interesting. Though watching them try to solve a mystery in just a handful of hours every day was a bit odd. There were multiple attempts to break into a police station to read the reports about Jim's death that just seemed weird.

Adding to the mix is Beatrice thinking that her friends might be hiding something from her about Jim's death, that they all know more than they are saying.

The book definitely had its highs and lows. There were slow, downtrodden moments and then ones where things picked up and the tension and suspense were thick! Sadly, those moments felt further in between. There were also flashbacks that sometimes felt a little forced and they would drag on for pages. It felt like a derailment from the main plot at large and it was hard to get back into the story after an unnecessarily long flashback. Then we get into a sort of time-jumping sort of methodology that got a little complicated. It honestly was a bit hard to understand in my opinion, but as ever, I just rolled with the course of things.

The end definitely made up for some of the slowness! It was quite shocking and heart-wrenching. It definitely leaves your head spinning and trying to figure out what was what. It definitely has a ring of another kind of ending we all (might) know, but I won't say it just to avoid spoilers. 

All in all, Neverworld Wake was an interesting read, albeit on the slow side. While I enjoyed parts of it, I did find myself ever close to setting it aside and never picking it up again, but alas, I was too far into it to give it all up entirely. I'm not sure I would pick up a book by this author again, but I never say no with certainty after one book!

Overall Rating 2/5 stars

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