Book Review : The Opposite of Here
By Tara Altebrando
Natalie’s parents are taking her and her three best friends on a cruise for her seventeenth birthday. A sail-a-bration, they call it. But it’s only been a few short months since Natalie’s boyfriend died in a tragic accident, and she wants to be anywhere but here.
Then she meets a guy on the first night and sparks fly. After a moonlit conversation on a secluded deck of the ship, Natalie pops down to her cabin to get her swimsuit so they can go for a dip. But when she returns, he’s gone. Something he said makes her think he might have . . . jumped? No, he couldn’t have.
But why do her friends think she’s crazy for wanting to make sure he’s okay? Also, why do they seem to be hiding something from her? And how can she find him when she doesn’t even know his name? Most importantly, why is the captain on the intercom announcing the urgent need for a headcount?
With her signature thrilling storytelling, the author of The Leaving and The Possible explores our vulnerability to the power of suggestion-and the lies we tell others and ourselves-in a twisting, Hitchcock-inspired mystery with high stakes and dark secrets. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)
Adult Point of View
Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of The Opposite of Here, in exchange for an honest review.
Once again I am stuck with writing a less than stellar review. In the books’ defense, I don’t believe I’m the target market and a teenager would probably enjoy it more than I did.
The format of the story is blocked out with the itineraries for the cruise ship’s activities. After reading through the first few studiously and not finding clues to the mystery, I started skimming these parts, and so, if there were clues for upcoming events I missed them. I was left with never wanting to go on a cruise if this is the approach to herding people around for fun.
Natalie is interested in Hitchcock movies and the scenes are interrupted with notations as if it’s a movie script. The denotations were not always clear and it became confusing if Natalie was relating an imaginary scene or something actually happening. This may be the fault of my reading an ARC and hopefully is fixed in the final version. There were other mistakes where the “movie scene” in Natalie’s head flowed right into a paragraph that was actually happening. I had to read those twice, which always annoys me when reading a novel, and affects my overall rating.
I didn’t love the characterization. Natalie was whiney – and I know she was getting over her boyfriend who had died, but I needed more empathy for her. However, I did like her explanation of why she wasn’t as broken up over him as she “should” have been. Several boys were mentioned on the cruise. I felt like Ray, the darkest character, was the most interesting because we slowly learned his motivations for his actions. He is fascinated with hypnotism and shows his skills at a talent night on the boat – but his act has an undercurrent of danger.
Nora was the most interesting of Natalie’s friends because of her flaws. I’m not convinced that Natalie could forgive her easily for those flaws, but Nora certainly stirred the pot in an interesting way. I would have liked to feel more connected to any of the friends. I thought the bit with the necklace was interesting – it seemed like Nora had considered pretending that the necklace had been a gift, but Natalie would know that wasn’t true from first hand experience. I thought this was a point where the two friends could reconnect more deeply after being hurt by one another.
The end could be seen as a big plus or a minus. After some consideration I’ve decided I’m on the plus side. So as not to give away the twist and spoiler, I will only say that the final details tie up the plot ends neatly like a package (which is why some won’t like it), but it also provides the motivation for the majority of characters as a big reveal (which is why I decided I liked the end). Regardless, the final twist is what made this book memorable.
I haven’t read many contemporary mysteries with teens as the protagonist, so this could cloud my point of view. I was also offended when Natalie has a huge epiphany about her identity and doesn’t need her dead boyfriend or any boy as the measure of her value, and then she jumps right into bed with a guy. What’s up with that? It seemed like her actions took away the life lesson learned that she was actually valuable for more than her body. I can’t really recommend this mystery.
2.5 – 3 out of 5 stars
I would recommend trying Black Flowers, White Lies by Yvonne Ventresca.