Review: Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl

nwwPublication: June 5th 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages:  327 pages
Source: Bookmobile
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Psychological, Science Fiction, Fantasy
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤

“No one ever heeded a warning sign when it came,” (Pessl 5).

I fell in love with Marisha Pessl’s writing when I read her book Night Film. It was a strange and addicting read and I knew I had to keep her on my radar. And there she came on my bookstagram, through one account and then another. As soon as I saw that she had written a new book and her first for YA, I knew I had to read it and was lucky to get on the hold list at my library at just the right time.

Neverworld Wake follows Beatrice Hartley who decides to visit her high school friends at the beautiful Wincroft estate one year after the death of her boyfriend, and mutual friend to her old friends, Jim. Though Jim’s death was ruled a suicide by the police, Beatrice has always felt that there was something more to it and hopes to find answers when she meets her friends who she has not spoken to in a year. With an awkward reunion and Beatrice doubting she’ll ever find out what happened to Jim comes a knock at the door and a strange man announcing that Beatrice and her friends are in the Neverworld, a place between worlds, and the five of them must come to a chilling decision to get out.

Neverworld Wake is a great foray into the Young Adult genre for Pessl for both its uniqueness and scariness. The book is a slow cold terror that sneaks into your bones and shakes you. It’s casually horrifying, mentioning one terrifying scenario to another without blinking an eye, and it’s this horror that kept me intrigued and reading quickly to find out what happened.

I will say that Beatrice could be a bit of an annoying protagonist, though she had her moments. Most of the characters actually felt very flat to me, especially Beatrice’s friends who she has such a history with. I understand that the characters had a falling out before the novel began, but there seemed to be no connection at all between them. Remember that these are characters that had been friends for four years of high school and had only had one year of a fall out. I just felt that some connection to the old friendship would be evident. I also felt that the characters growth towards the end seemed to fast, or rather to have happened off screen. I felt like they changed without me actually seeing how. Aside from Beatrice and Martha, none of the other characters seemed very developed.

But still, Neverworld Wake is an incredibly beautifully written novel and its uniqueness to the YA genre (and as a Groundhog Day type of story) was a welcome addition to my reading list. Pessl is a talented author, and I look forward to reading her other works and whatever new voice she brings to the YA genre.

Favourite Quotes:

“The mind does its best to lessen the impact of any catastrophe. It really tries its best. But then the distance between reality and woven fantasy becomes too great for even the mind to bear. All those words of calm relief, the hope that everything will be all right in the end, can’t help stretching and tearing and fading to nothing.

Then you wake up screaming” (Pessl 55).

“Death feels like floating in a warm bath,” (Pessl 164).

“There are the rules of this world, and there is what you do when life comes crashing down around you,” (Pessl 199).

“Memory turns out to be a lazy employee, intent on doing the least amount of work. When a person is alive and around you all the time, it doesn’t bother to record all the details, and when a person is dead, it Xeroxes a tattered recollection a million times so all the details are lost,” (Pessl 213).

“Because we all have our words tucked away in notebooks in drawers in the dark. You can’t just give them away…They’re yours. Like a fingerprint…They are the light that shines your way. Without them, you’ll be lost,” (Pessl 298).


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