Monday, April 16, 2012

REVIEW: White Horse by Alex Adams




 I'm going to infuse a little levity in this review and say Alex Adams Debut novel is a horse of many colors. :)
Their are a variety of themes in this novel. Some are brilliantly realised and others seemed to stall, or require a huge suspension of belief on the readers part.


Narrative: Its not an easy thing to switch narratives from past to present, yet Alex parcels out the experiences of Zoe in a series of chapters labeled Then and Now, quite successfully. We don't really know when the novel takes place. Is it 5 years from now? 10? Not knowing  gives the book a sense of anonymity. All we have is Zoe's voice and her life experiences which at the start of the book are shaky . Zoe is a custodian at a research laboratory. She likes the solitude of her work, the limited responsibility. Zoe is single and lives quietly with herself despite her family's attempts at match making.
One day she comes home to her secure apartment to find a jar in her home. It is large and ancient looking and it has mysteriously manifested in her apartment. Confused and thinking she might be going crazy,
Zoe seeks help in the form of Dr. Nick Rose. Fom their first conversation you can feel their attraction. Adams shines in these chapters. It's important that the couples connection is strong, that they take the steps to be more than patient / client. Because as the story unfolds we learn the world is in chaos. A strange virus is spreading across the world, coincidently around the same time Zoe opens the mysterious jar.

In the midst of the world falling apart Zoe and Nick are briefly together and then seperated. In the NOW we learn that Zoe is pregnant and half way across the world trying to find Nick.

The Struggle

Though I was riveted by the narrative,certain things about the novel  didn't connect for me. First off for a world that's engulfed in a plague it doesn't make sense that Zoe would have been able to get out of the United States. I also questioned why after a series of smart choices she would then pick up a traveling partner: Lisa, a young blind girl . Understandably she is protective of the girl who has recently been attacked by her father, but the casual way she burdened herself just didn't ring true. Especially for a woman desperate to protect herself and her unborn child.

Lisa was quite an annoyance in the book. I never could connect with her and didn't understand her purpose. Midway through their journey the girls meet The Swiss. He is a viscous and  bitter man. He becomes part companion, part captor and Lisa immediately succumbs to his control.

 I couldn't figure out why Zoe didn't try harder to escape from him. As the trio get closer to Greece we learn more about the events leading up to Zoe's present circumstances and the strange connection she has with The Swiss.

I'm a little conflicted with this book.

  Gorgeous writing and a solid lead character but some clunky story directions that I couldn't get past. This novel is highly readable though. I did find myself caught in the dramatic tension between the Then and Now chapters. I also became very connected to Nick which is interesting since we only learn about him through Zoe's past interactions with him.

This is the first in a trilogy, so I'm going to give book 2 a try and see if I can follow this tale to it's conclusion.

No comments: