The Bones of You
As many of you know, I am currently on bed rest as I’m 26 weeks pregnant and at high risk of premature birth. Bed rest is boring and so I jumped at the chance to read a new book and produce a review on behalf of Mumsnet/Pan Macmillan (thanks for the sending the free book to me in Dubai and in hardback too…fancy!). This is my first official book review and so I hope you enjoy it!
What it’s all about….
This is Debbie Howells’ first novel and it is an impressive debut. The sinister title and hauntingly illustrated cover leaves you in little doubt that this story will not end well for someone, and you find out almost straightaway exactly who that someone is.
The first chapter introduces you to eighteen year old Rosie and given that her first sentence is ‘It’s true, what they say about when you die’, I don’t think I’m giving away too much by saying that it is Rosie’s demise that the book centres around. And when I say her demise, I mean her murder.
You are then introduced to Kate, the main narrator, a likeable and trustworthy character who, after Rosie’s death, becomes more and more embroiled in Rosie’s mum, Jo’s life. Each chapter narrated by Kate is written in the present tense and is intermingled with a chapter narrated by Rosie, written in the past tense from beyond the grave.
This dual narrative works well as Rosie’s narration gives you a different perspective and an otherwise unattainable insight into a number of characters as she becomes omniscient after her death. It also allows you to get to know Rosie and her family’s story in-depth, which is integral to the development of the plot. Further, Rosie’s insights, which take the form of ‘flashback movies’, fuel your suspicions as to who the murderer is.
A ‘who-dun-it’ thriller
The book is well written and the plot line is fairly simple (in its simplest form it is a ‘who-dun-it’ thriller) which works well given the characters are fairly complex. This does mean that the plot isn’t exactly groundbreaking but it doesn’t need to be. The author gives you enough information throughout each chapter to keep you interested. However, she avoids giving you too much information so the plot doesn’t become predictable.
The chapters are short and often end with a revelation or some kind of cliff-hanger, meaning you resolve to read ‘just one more chapter’ to find out what happens next (it lead to a few late nights for me!). This technique makes the book a true page turner and keeps you guessing, as any good thriller should.
Despite being complex, the majority of the characters are believable and Howell’s writing style keeps you questioning the true personalities of the characters throughout the book. Before you know it, you are jumping wildly from character to character, accusing them in turn of Rosie’s murder, like an incompetent detective.
Did I guess the ending?….
There were some surprises in the plot along the way. That said, I did guess who the murderer was about three quarters of the way through but this didn’t spoil the book for me. And the writing style meant I still wasn’t a hundred per cent until it was confirmed in black and white.
As I sped through the final chapters, desperate to know whether my conspiracy theory was true, I started to worry about the ending and whether it would justify the forty three chapters I had just read. Luckily there was a satisfying (but realistic) ending to the book.
My only criticism…
The lawyer in me is conscious that this review needs to be balanced and with that in mind my only real criticism is that, to me, some of the characters were unrealistic. Neal (Rosie’s dad) was too much of an unbelievable caricature for me. Even Jo’s character sometimes slips into the unbelievable. Further, Kate’s long lost friend Laura, whose backstory is that she returned to the town to cover the story all the way from the USA isn’t very believable, despite the media interest in Rosie’s death due to her dad’s slight fame.
Did I like it?
I read this book in 3 days which is quite an achievement for me. I honestly looked forward to reading it and my reluctance to put it down meant a couple of late nights and consequently some rather dark circles under my eyes the next morning.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this book as an easy but enthralling read.