Sunday, 8 March 2015

Book Review #9 / The Boy That Never Was

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Sunday's book review almost didn't happen again this week as I left it until Saturday morning to actually begin reading this thriller by Karen Perry. If you want some proof that perseverance pays off, then this book is a good example as I was so ready to admit defeat, about halfway in, but then it suddenly got really, really good... 

Three-year-old Dillon vanished in the middle of the night. His father Harry can't forgive himself for not protecting his only child. Yet Harry isn't blamed by wife Robin: she bears her own secret guilt. 
Five years later, thousands of miles away, Harry spots an eight-year-old boy in a crowd - a boy he is convinced is Dillon.

Desperate to find his missing son, Harry's obsession tears apart his marriage, exposing shameful secrets and shattering the one thing he and Robin had left - trust.

Why won't Robin believe Harry? What is she hiding? Can the boy really be Dillon? And how far will Harry go to find their lost son?

Seriously what is with me being obsessed with books about missing children? Anyway, the synopsis of this novel was enough to make me swiftly add it to my Amazon basket in the hopes it would be as good as my last read: Without You (which I absolutely loved.)

The Boy That Never Was gets off to a good start. Set in Tangier, Morocco, on the night of his wife's birthday, artist Harry is cooking a meal for her return from work, whilst their 3 year old son Dillon sleeps peacefully in the next room. In a decision he will later regret for years to come, he leaves his son in slumber whilst popping across the street to visit a friend. An unexpected earthquake erupts, throwing the city into chaos, and as Harry frantically rushes back to ensure his son is safe, he sees his home - and his little boy - are no more than a pile of dust. Although his body is never found, it's presumed Dillon is dead amongst many other people killed in the freak disaster, that night. 

Five years later, Harry and his wife Robin are living in Dublin, Ireland and it's clear they are both still consumed with grief over the loss of their little boy. One day, in the midst of a political march, Harry sees a little boy holding a woman's hand who he is convinced is Dillon. 

Filled with guilt and regret, Harry is determined to track down the boy and prove he is, infact, his lost son. 

Now, the plot line of this story is great. But once we'd got past the initial build up of the earthquake, and Harry spotting his 'son' five years later, unfortunately, the novel started to become very slow.

About 150 pages in, I was ready to abandon it altogether - which is very unlike me. The characters are just not very likeable at all, to begin with. Harry is moody and detached whilst Robin is just weak and, well, a bit bland. This makes it hard to sympathise with them, at all. There's also something about the writing style that falls a bit short for me and I can't place my finger on what it is - but it just doesn't grab me like the way some novels do. 

Anyway, I powered through and, I have to say, I'm glad I did as it got a lot better. As the story unravels, there are some jaw-dropping twists, which were completely unexpected and left me seriously shocked, all building up to an extremely explosive ending.  We also see a different side to both Harry and Robin, too, and I definitely started to like them a lot more as the story developed. Obviously, I won't say anymore than that but if you're considering reading this book, just don't be too put off by it's slow start. It does get better - much better. 

The Boy That Never Was by Karen Perry, £3.85, Amazon.

Have you read The Boy That Never Was or are you planning to? Hit me with any recommendations!

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