Friday, October 03, 2014

Never Ending, by Martyn Bedford

And while we're on a dead brother kick, here's another one...

After Shiv's little brother Declan dies, she can't shake the sense that she was responsible for his death.  The guilt is tearing her apart, making her prone to sudden violent acts and memory loss.  When traditional therapy fails, she ends up at a remote institute that practices an extreme form of immersion therapy.  Along with a group of other young people who have also lost loved ones, they struggle through the emotional healing process. As for the facts of what happened to Shiv's brother, they are slowly unfolded through alternate chapters of flashback, recounting how an idyllic and romantic Greek vacation went tragically bad.

It's well-written and the characters of Shiv and Declan are interesting and their relationship complex, but it's hard to shake the fact that we've done this story all before -- the tragic accident, the exaggerated self-blaming, the institutionalization (with its combination of patients who want to get better and those that don't), and so on.  There simply isn't anything new here.  In fact, there's plenty of the old tricks, like not revealing the great "trauma" until the end so we can't evaluate how legit (or usually, illegit) the main character's sense of guilt is.  All of which leaves us with the Big Question:  why read it?

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