Saturday, June 10, 2017

Book review: DAUGHTER (Jane Shemilt)

Although Jane Shemilt writes in lucid, gripping prose, her first novel suffers from several flaws.

Firstly, it’s too contrived by half. The plot revolves around the disappearance of the teenage daughter of two well-to-do Bristol doctors. As the plot unfolds, it is revealed that this 15-year-old girl was up to all manner of trouble. Now, I understand teenagers being rebellious, but the layers of deceit and misdemeanour surrounding Naomi just had me saying exasperatedly ‘oh, come on!’ over and over as I read more.

The writer’s command of the English language is commendable, but much of the novel is a lot of words which ultimately say very little. The intercutting of time frames (immediately after Naomi goes missing, days before the disappearance, and a year after) doesn’t actually add to the tension or help piece the clues together in a particularly cogent way. The mixing of time frames just left the book feeling jumbled.

The novel suffers from ‘Casual Vacancy’ Syndrome: when the author bungs all possible negative plot device in the novel just to provide cheap thrills to the reader. Sadly, both Jane Shemilt and the preachy Harry Potter author overdo it, so rather than feel empathy for the protagonist Jenny when these surprises are slowly revealed, you instead sceptically wonder how someone who graduated from Medical School could have missed the mountain of evidence that was right under her nose.

The ending took me by surprise, I’ll grant that, but again, that pushed the realms of plausibility too far; it really felt like the author had jumped the shark.

I give the book 4.5/10 because I was intrigued as to what happened to Naomi, so I kept turning the page and reading on. It was easy to read pulp, and certainly a harmless way to kill time on my daily commutes. On the whole, Daughter wasn’t an uninteresting book. It just wasn’t a very believable one either.



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