Never Ending by Martyn Bedford
|Never Ending by Martyn Bedford|
|Reviewer: Robert James|
|Summary: While it doesn't sustain an excellent start, this story of a teen blaming herself for her brother's death has its merits, including a very strong lead character.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: February 2014|
|External links: Author's website|
Sent to a clinic which specialises in using unconventional methods to help people get over grief, Shiv is forced to confront the death of her beloved younger brother Declan. Like everyone else in the clinic, she’s convinced that she caused the death herself. Will she finally find the peace that her parents are seeking for her, even if she doesn't think she deserves it herself?
I really liked this one to start off with – Bedford’s writing drew me into his story and I felt that I was far closer to Shiv than I normally am in third-person narratives. (I have a massive preference for first-person, especially when it comes to contemporary fiction, so this seriously impressed me.) Unfortunately it didn’t really sustain my interest past the halfway point or so – it takes so long for us to get to the actual revelation about just how Shiv’s brother died, and why she feels so guilty, that it felt rather anti-climactic. The setting was also one that didn’t sit all that well with me. I can see the idea of shock treatment in this way, but found it difficult to believe in.
Having made those complaints, there’s actually quite a lot of really good stuff here. Shiv is a very strong main character who definitely develops during the course of the novel. Given the split timeline, this is perhaps a particular accomplishment – we get to see her become a more confident person as she becomes closer to a local boy in Greece, then we see her have to cope with her grief and guilt after Declan’s death.
As well, I found her relationships with her family – Declan before his death and their parents before and after – to be very believable and moving, and I liked the growing friendships between her, Mikey and Caron at the clinic.
Not one of my favourite contemporaries in what’s an incredibly strong year for them, but worth keeping an eye out for. I should warn you that it's definitely towards the darker end of the scale, though. (I'm assuming that's probably obvious from the subject matter, but it was if anything slightly bleaker than I expected even given what I knew of it.)
Another story of a teen grieving after a death is the stunning Far From You by Tess Sharpe, one of my favourites for many years.
You can read more book reviews or buy Never Ending by Martyn Bedford at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Never Ending by Martyn Bedford at Amazon.com.
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