I love a good page-turner.
The kind of book you look forward to, that keeps you gripped during your commute, that makes you long for bedtime and a chance to tuck into another chapter or two.
My most recent reviewing read, Do Not Become Alarmed (Penguin, releases 6th July) is exactly that kind of juicy read. It spent far too long on my TBR pile, but as soon as I actually picked it up and dove below that blue cover I was taken on quite the journey by Maile Meloy. This book is entertaining, but also considers so big issues – family, travel, privilege, and I was often kept on the hop by the twists and turns of the narrative.
The blurb on goodreads summarises the book far more succinctly and skillfully than I can, writing this after an evening of reports, so I’ll use that to set the scene. Man, I love goodreads.
When Liv and Nora decide to take their husbands and children on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The adults are lulled by the ship’s comfort and ease. The four children—ages six to eleven—love the nonstop buffet and their newfound independence. But when they all go ashore for an adventure in Central America, a series of minor misfortunes and miscalculations leads the families farther from the safety of the ship. One minute the children are there, and the next they’re gone.
The disintegration of the world the families knew—told from the perspectives of both the adults and the children—is both riveting and revealing. The parents, accustomed to security and control, turn on each other and blame themselves, while the seemingly helpless children discover resources they never knew they possessed.
The books begins at a nice, steady pace, but as soon as the families are separated the action picks up hugely and the rollercoaster is set in motion – I really enjoyed how different points-of-view and storylines come to the fore in different chapters. The action unfolds, as we see the adults’ panic dissolve into blame and incrimination, and the children have to fend for themselves and work together in order to survive.
Maile Meloy’s prose is tight, sparse, descriptive and lush, depending on the characters and the situation being relayed, but I loved her ‘voice’ and the pacing of the story. I never felt scenes or themes were being drawn out and really wanted to crack on and solve the mystery. Or should that be mysteries?
If you’re looking for a thriller to enjoy on your summer holidays and are a fan of great writing and taut plotting, I’d really recommend Do Not Become Alarmed.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book to review from the publisher. All opinions, thoughts and ponderings are my own.