Review: Neverworld Wake
Neverworld Wake, Marisha Pessl
Published June 5, 2018, Delacorte Press
Once upon a time, back at Darrow-Harker School, Beatrice Hartley and her six best friends were the cool kids, the beautiful ones. Then the shocking death of Jim—their creative genius and Beatrice's boyfriend—changed everything.
One year after graduation, Beatrice is returning to Wincroft—the seaside estate where they spent so many nights sharing secrets, crushes, plans to change the world—hoping she'll get to the bottom of the dark questions gnawing at her about Jim’s death. But as the night plays out in a haze of stilted jokes and unfathomable silence, Beatrice senses she’s never going to know what really happened.
Then a mysterious man knocks on the door. Blithely, he announces the impossible: time for them has become stuck, snagged on a splinter that can only be removed if the former friends make the harshest of decisions. Now Beatrice has one last shot at answers... and at life.
And so begins the Neverworld Wake.
I spent a few days trying to figure out how to review this book. It’s definitely a book worth trying to keep entirely spoiler-free so that anyone coming to the book can dive into this complicated story headfirst.
But then there are some questions about the rules of the world that make me want to address specific moments that would then be spoilers...
What’s a book nerd to do?
Ultimately, I want to avoid spoilers so I’ll try to talk around them and more about Pessl’s work.
I loved Night Film, another piece of world building, though on a smaller scale, with a fun mystery to be solved, and I slogged through the first 9/10ths of Special Topics in Calamity Physics but then loved the ending so much that I stopped making dinner and sat down on the kitchen floor to finish the book.
This book definitely felt different from the other titles, written to be a YA book while still maintaining a lot of the adult voice like in Special Topics.
This book is an exploration of human nature and the experience of guilt, anger and grief. It’s about storytelling in terms of personal narrative and external mythology. It’s shocking and absurd and utterly really at the same time.
If you can suspend your disbelief you’ll love the world and all the complicated emotions that weave through it