Thursday, 2 July 2015

Guest Book Review: Rosamund Lupton - The Quality of Silence

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

On 24th November Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrive in Alaska.

Within hours they are driving alone across a frozen wilderness

Where nothing grows

Where no one lives

Where tears freeze

And night will last for another fifty-four days.

They are looking for Ruby's father.

Travelling deeper into a silent land.

They still cannot find him.

And someone is watching them in the dark.

Amazon links: Kindle or Hardcover

Fans of Rosamund Lupton have been kept waiting for her third novel The Quality of Silence for quite some time. It certainly had a lot to live up to considering the huge success of her first two books. Does it meet the high expectations and the hype surrounding its pre-release? Well for me it did. I was totally lost in the harsh, cold, barren lands of Alaska journeying alongside Ruby and Yasmin as they desperately search for Matt - their father and husband. I can see why some people might be divided after finishing this book, admittedly most of the action doesn’t really happen until the last few chapters and that won’t suit everybody but for me what made this book special and a hauntingly atmospheric read was the unique relationship between mother and daughter. Ruby is a character the likes of which I have never read before, for she is deaf and as she says herself all she hears is quiet and feels motions and vibrations. Her Twitter name says it all @wordsnosounds, she uses this alongside a blog to communicate to the outside world and her entries dotted throughout the novel are powerful and emotive.

Yasmin and Ruby arrive in Alaska to meet up with Matt (a wildlife film maker) who has been away for a period of time. Yasmin is here to issue an ultimatum to him - give up and come home or their marriage is over. Yasmin is no ordinary woman left at home to run the household but rather she is a highly trained astrophysicist, she knows and understands the world and how it works and does her best to make Ruby feel as included as possible. Upon arrival at the airport devastating news is revealed, there's been a terrible accident in the village he was living and he's missing. Yasmin didn’t react the way I expected her too, distraught at the news but rather a steely determination develops as she believes that he's alive.  Sure he only rang a few hours before they left England. Soon Yasmin against all advice embarks upon a dangerous, terrifying quest to journey to the tiny village of Anaktue to uncover the truth for herself.  She has not given up on finding Matt alive and neither should Ruby. Immediately anyone would question why on earth any responsible mother would decide to take her 10 year old daughter into the Alaskan wilderness? But to me she had no choice. She had made it that far to Alaska in the first place and if your heart was telling you there was a small chance of seeing your husband again surely you would go for it? Also it wasn’t like she could just abandon Ruby and go solo. I think her love for Matt but also so many unanswered questions spurred her on through the adventure from hell.

Once Yasmin and Ruby venture away from the airport the book came into its own, both from the point of view of getting inside the characters heads and the breathtaking descriptions of Alaska. Most chapters were told from alternative viewpoints and I loved this. The innocence of Ruby believing that everything was going to be alright and the utmost trust she put in her mother even though she had taken them to an aggressive, hostile land. Ruby was a likeable character and for one so young never lost her head in spite of being in such an unusual situation. Even when strange emails start appearing on her laptop she remained calm and sensible throughout. Soon the pair commandeered a truck for themselves and are driving into one of the worst snowstorms that has been forecast in years. Here the author excels magnificently in her descriptive abilities, you feel as if you are a passenger in the truck sitting alongside Ruby battling the elements the further North along the Ice Road they travel. The Tundra is a place where nothing grows and to step outside the warmth of the truck would see your breath freeze in an instant. It’s harsh and devastating in all senses of the word. Having watched The Ice Road Truckers programme I knew plenty of the places mentioned such as Prudhoe Bay and Deadhorse. The terminology surrounding trucking didn’t put me off either as it is all mentioned in the programme. In fact having seen what the truckers go through only helped to make this book more realistic for me. Yasmin is a woman who some may find foolhardy but I just think she is to be admired for her determination and tenacity .To be able to navigate the treacherous ice roads and keep a sane head in plummeting temperatures and arctic conditions whilst someone is trailing you should be commended. Her devotion and thirst for answers shone through.

As mentioned before the action really kicked in the last quarter but I had never lost interest right from the first page. The book just oozed tension and was literally quite chilling. There was alot of detail into the journey but for me it all added to the suspense and suspicion. The endless darkness and cold just created a heightened atmosphere. At some points I was screaming to myself would they just hurry up and just get to Anaktue but I had to step back and savour the brilliant writing and be patient because all too soon I had reached the end of a different but deeply satisfying read that I won’t forget in a hurry. My only minor complaint was after investing so much time in description and setting up the very end was too rushed. For me it was one of those endings where I was left wondering what actually happened? We are led to believe something but other readers may pick it up differently. (I’d love to someone to contact me and tell me what they thought).  Put that small issue aside and yes the wait was worth it Rosmaund Lupton has done herself justice with a remarkable book based on a world and place of silence that keeps things hidden but also offers many surprises. Do read this on a warm day as you’ll only feel more sympathy for the struggles endured by two very brave people who go against the odds to demonstrate love and sheer willpower will conquer all.

I'd like to thank Emma for her fab review of The Quality of Silence which we received from the publisher via NetGalley.  

Check out the fab interactive audio map below that has been created by Rosamund's publishers.

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