Book Reviews: How To Stop Time, Kill the Next One & Did You See Melody?

Back to catching up with book reviews I missed out on last year!

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig* – 7/10

Plot: Tom Hazard might appear to be a normal man, but he has a secret: he’s much older than you think. Part of the “Albatross Society”, he one of very few people around the world who ages far slower than the average, meaning he’s over 500 years old and has started his life over many, many times to hide this secret. There’s only one rule: he cannot fall in love.

My thoughts: Given the plot I’ve outlined above, I’m sure you can tell where the story goes with this one – of course, Tom did fall in love, and as a result, there’s something that he clings to throughout his long, long life.
I found the premise of the book fascinating. It’s one that’s not entirely new, but was done really quite well. Reading about a character surviving and thriving through various era. At the current time, he’s a history teacher who enjoys making his subject come alive for his students using his far better knowledge than anyone else. In the past, he’s worked at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and met F. Scott Fitzgerald in Paris. These encounters really do add some interest to a story that could otherwise drag, although it occasionally had that feel of “name dropping” that these type of novels often get.
I really liked Tom’s character and the description of his bittersweet life and struggles. It was a good read – one I enjoyed a lot but didn’t absolutely love. Still a good recommendation.

Kill the Next One – Federico Axat* – 7.5/10

Plot: Ted had the perfect life, with a family he loves and a good job. So why is he holding a gun to his own temple, about to pull the trigger, when his doorbell rings? Terminal brain cancer is why. But the stranger at the door offers him an alternative: he can kill 2 people before he dies, one who is a criminal, the other who is someone terminally ill like himself, so that they don’t have do the deed themselves and have their family find them. In return, Ted will then become the target – a suicide chain, if you will.

My thoughts: If you’re looking for a psychological thriller that’s fast-paced and will mess with your mind, I’d say this is a pretty strong contender! Understandably, Ted isn’t the most reliable narrator considering the brain tumour he’s living with, but working with a therapist, it becomes apparent that he has some pretty dark secrets too.
The novel is full of all the twists and turns that I love in a book which meant it was a fun and thrilling read. It’s definitely unsettling and, I know it’s cliche to say, but really keeps you guessing about what’s going to happen next and in the end. It’s difficult say more without giving the game away, but it’s a good one, believe me!

 Did You See Melody? by Sophie Hannah* – 7.5/10

Plot: Cara is exhausted and at her wit’s end, so she books herself an exotic holiday away from her home and family, and travels away by herself. Arriving worn out, she checks in then accidentally enters a room occupied by a man and teenage girl – a mistake on the reception’s part, who is horribly embarrassed. She tried to continue with her holiday forgetting about the incident, but when she hears about the nation’s most famed murder victim, Melody Chapa, she can’t shake the feeling that she saw more than she was supposed to see.

My thoughts: Despite the fact that I read this book almost a year ago, it’s one that’s stuck really well in my memory. I loved the hazy summer vacation feel entwined with a dark and potentially dangerous mystery. Should we trust what Cara saw? Should she even trust her own eyes? The book flits between mystery and psychological thriller – something I really enjoy.
I’ve read a couple of other novels by Sophie Hannah and always really like her writing – her stories seem accessible, fun and gripping, and this one was no different. I think it would make an excellent beach or poolside read in summer – although don’t go persuading yourself you’ve seen a murder victim! Definitely a recommendation.

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