The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North

25746699The Sudden Appearance of Hope is an incredibly unique and, not a little, sad story of a young girl who, as she grows older, becomes forgettable to (almost) everyone around her.  I found this a really fascinating concept.

I confess that going into this novel I had little idea what it was about other than that the main character, Hope Arden, after having turned sixteen gradually becomes more and more forgettable to everyone around her until eventually not even her family can remember who she is.  I wondered if this was going to be more of a play on that concept, a look at people who never really stand out in society or perhaps even a look at those people in society who fall under the radar somehow.  Anyway, it’s nothing like that.  For some strange reason Hope Arden, as she reaches her mid teens literally becomes less and less memorable to people until basically, if she steps out of somebody’s sight for more than a minute, they forget who she is.  Of course this has massive implications not least of which is that she is unable to form any relationships or attachments.  She no longer lives at home because her parents forgot her, her school don’t know who she is and if she’s involved in an accident the doctors and nurses will forget that they need to return to her to give her the treatment she needs.

This obviously leads to a very lonely existence and one that eventually sees  Hope turn to a life of crime.  After all it’s easy for Hope to become a thief and in fairness she can’t really hold down a regular job can she!  She may make a few mistakes at the start of her career but she can pretty much get herself out of any situation with the minimum amount of fuss.  At the start of the story Hope is travelling among an elite set of people, basically weighing up her next job, and this is when we’re introduced to another thread that runs through the entirety of the story and becomes the central focus for Hope.  This is the notion of an App called Perfection.  People purchase this app and tap in their basic information following which the app helps them to identify what and where to eat and how much exercise to take, where to visit, what to wear, etc,.  The whole system works on the basis of punishment and reward with incentives such as free shopping and travel for those whose level of perfection increases.  I don’t really want to give away too much in relation to this aspect as it plays a major part in the story with Hope becoming a little bit obsessed with the app leading to a number of mistakes that almost lead to her undoing.

There are a number of things that I really enjoyed about this but also a couple of things that for me brought it down a little.

In terms of the positives, as I said above, this is a very original (to me at least) idea and one that was fascinating to read. The author doesn’t try to explain this strange phenomenon in a scientific way at all, we’re simply introduced to Hope and made slowly aware of her history and the life she now leads.  I can’t deny that sometimes it would irritate me not to have some sort of reasoning applied but in this instance I think it works better rather than being provided with a convoluted theory.  I also really enjoyed reading of Hope’s past and her current exploits.  This idea certainly gave the author plenty to work with and the first half of the book was incredibly compelling and fast paced and I was gripped with Hope’s plight and her way of life.  Which in turn leads into my slight criticisms.  The book definitely feels like it changes tack in the second half, which isn’t in itself a problem other than I didn’t find the focus nearly as entertaining.  The writing style also changes and becomes almost like a stream of conscious thought that becomes a little bit frantic.  I can appreciate why the author changed the style slightly but I just simply didn’t enjoy it as much and in turn it made the pace slow down for me.

Overall, I certainly wouldn’t discourage anybody from picking this up.  It’s an intriguing story, it has moments of outright suspense, it’s also quite sad and it’s basically a very thought provoking and fascinating idea to read about.  The change in style didn’t quite work out for me personally but I can see what the author was aiming for.  I would certainly pick up more by Claire North and in fact I have a copy of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August which I’m really looking forward to reading now.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher though Net Galley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.


14 Responses to “The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North”

  1. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I just finished this myself and I really enjoyed it! I was fine with the style, but I do wonder if it was because I listened to this in audio. I can imagine how that “stream of consciousness” thing can start to wear if you’re actually reading it in prose, whereas it might sound a bit more natural hearing that kind of writing spoken out loud. I completely agree though, this story was so unique and cool!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I think that’s a really good point – I think if I was listening to this it would probably have been a lot less repetitive feeling. It wasn’t like that in the first half, just sort of the last 50% when things would be repeated quite a bit. I think it was a great concept though and I will definitely read more of this author.
      Lynn 😀

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    The premise of this book is totally fascinating and I would love to see how it’s developed: some time ago I tried “Touch” by the same author, but put it on hold at the halfway point because it seemed to fall into a repetition loop, so I needed some distance before trying it again. But maybe I’ll take a chance with this one and see how it goes… Thanks for sharing!

    • @lynnsbooks

      The latter half of the book changes style slightly and the narrative does become a lot more repetitious. I think it’s a great concept though and others are enjoying it. I preferred the first half though and ran out of steam for the last part.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Catherine

    Sounds really intriguing indeed by the concept. I have to remember to look for it at the library

    • @lynnsbooks

      It’s quite a fascinating idea and I like the fact that the author doesn’t try to give it a scientific explanation – it just is. I ran out of steam a little for the last 50% because the style changed and became a bit more repetitive but I think it’s still a good read and others seem to be enjoying it.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Danya @ Fine Print

    Definitely an original concept, but it does sound like a bit of a downer. I’m glad that you mentioned the stream of consciouness style because honestly…I’ve never really been a fan. Maybe I should read another one of Claire North’s books rather than starting with this one!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I’m going to try the 15 Lives books (because I already have a copy and I’ve heard good things) but yeah, this style wasn’t for me, well the last half wasn’t – the start was so intriguing.
      Lynn 😀

  5. jessicabookworm

    While the premise sounds intriguing it also sounds like it will be just too sad for me!

    • @lynnsbooks

      It’s actually incredibly sad in a way because the poor woman can’t have any sort of relationship or friendship and in fact even her own family don’t recognise her! It’s pretty awful when you think about it – not to mention can’t hold down a job or have any sort of normal life. It’s a great idea – it’s almost like, instead of just one person suffering from memory loss – everyone else but that one person has selective amnesia!
      Lynn 😀

  6. sjhigbee

    I haven’t yet picked up this one – but would love to. I’m a real fan of Claire North’s writing – and of her other work as Kate Griffin. Thank you for your review:).

    • @lynnsbooks

      I didn’t know that she wrote under another name – I will have to check that out.
      Lynn 😀

      • sjhigbee

        She has written The Midnight Mayor and spinoff series Magicals Anonymous – urban fantasy set in London, that were very popular. She has also written as Catherine Webb.

  7. May: My month in review | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North […]

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