Google+ Bookslingers Blog: Edgar Challenge: Edge of Nowhere

Edgar Challenge: Edge of Nowhere

Two down, three to go! This is the second in the Bookslingers' Extremely (One Could Say Foolishly) Optimistic Edgar Award Challenge. The book on the docket is Elizabeth George's (Yes, That Elizabeth George) The Edge of Nowhere.

On the last day of Hannah Armstrong's existence, things were normal for a while. 

Hannah doesn't know it but that afternoon when she comes home and sees her stepfather glower at her in the kitchen is the last that she'll ever know. Because in her mind, she hears the "whispers" of this thoughts say:  "A break in... surprise... Connor... if she hears that a gun... because dead isn't always dead."

And when her step-father looks at her, he knows that she knows that he killed her shady business partner.

And so begins the life of Becca King.

On the run, her mother leaves her on Whidbey Island with a friend. But when Becca arrives off the ferry on the remote island full of secrets, the friend is dead. She is at the mercy of Seth, the aspiring musician and high school drop-out who can't get over his ex-girlfriend, Haley. There's Debbie, the hotel owner, who takes her in but harbours a pain so deep it hurts Becca to hear her thoughts. And then there's Diana, a woman who seemingly has no thoughts at all.

When Becca find the broken body of barely-alive Derrick, the handsome adopted son of the local sheriff, at the bottom of the cliff, her fragile new life crumbles. Because she saw something that day but can't tell anyone without putting her own life in danger.
The Pacific Northwest: Beautiful but deadly. But mostly deadly.
Usually before writing a review, I like to sit on it for a few days. Percolate, if you will. Let my thoughts and feeling sort themselves out into something coherant. But I have to get this off my chest: NO ONE SAID THAT THIS WAS GOING TO BE A SERIES. FIRST IN FOUR BOOKS? FOUR? I DID NOT EXPECT THIS. 

Oh wait. It was on the inside flap. But who reads those things anyways?

This is George's first valiance into YA (which is apparently The Thing To Do These Days, according to James Patterson and Kathy Reichs) and I will admit to some decidedly mixed feelings. The Edge of Nowhere is heavy on atmosphere and introspection - not things that hook teen readers. It felt a lot more like an adult book written in the POV of teenagers. I am curious to hear what actual teens made of it.

The "whispers" gimmick was surprisingly effective. Becca doesn't hear narrative: "So I am thinking that I am going to eat a cheeseburger and then push this guy off a cliff. Because of my motive." Instead she hears snippets, hints about what is skimming on the top of other people's  minds. This is effective in building suspense as (with most people) what they are thinking and what they are saying are two very different things.
Cliffs: So abundant, so push-off-able
Becca/Hannah is a frustrating character as the narrative necessitates her making some baffling decisions. So much so, that sometimes it is tough to get a handle on her. She is constantly shifting who she is, that by the end of the book, I hadn't a clue who she really was. Except that she was *~*magically thin ~*~.

The mystery at the heart of the novel - what happened that day at the cliff that left Derrick in a coma - is satisfying enough to carry the book despite some of the more didactic elements (ie. Seth learns to become a man from his grandfather/wizard figure). Overall, an intriguing start to a series but I would be surprised to see an Edgar sticker on it.

(Wait, do they have stickers? Is it just sad Poe face? Or a raven stabbing someone with a quill?)