Book Review: The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter

22716411Format: Hardcover

Pages: 432 pages

Publisher: Hogarth Press

Published: March 31, 2015

Genre:  Fiction, Mystery


“Deep in the woods of northern England, somewhere between a dilapidated estate and an abandoned Victorian asylum, fifteen-year-old Jane Standen lived through a nightmare. She was babysitting a sweet young girl named Lily, and in one fleeting moment, lost her. The little girl was never found, leaving her family and Jane devastated.

Twenty years later, Jane is an archivist at a small London museum that is about to close for lack of funding. As a final research project–an endeavor inspired in part by her painful past–Jane surveys the archives for information related to another missing person: a woman who disappeared more than one hundred years ago in the same woods where Lily was lost. As Jane pieces moments in history together, a portrait of a fascinating group of people starts to unfurl. Inexplicably tied to the mysterious disappearance of long ago, Jane finds tender details of their lives at the country estate and in the asylum that are linked to her own heartbroken world, and their story from all those years ago may now help Jane find a way to move on”

I am a stubborn reader. No matter what, I always try to finish a book. So it pains me to say that I was unable to finish this book. Not because I have too much time on my hands, but because it was just so difficult and tough to get through. The synopsis of the book is misleading. You are made to believe that the story is told in Jane’s voice. That is not the case. What I read so far, the narrative is told through the perspective ghosts, ghosts who are identified by “the idiot”, “the musician”, and just as ambiguous, “the one”. An interesting concept, at best, but really not effective. When I was interested in reading this novel, I was looking forward to hearing Jane’s voice, her personality, her thoughts and feelings on what is going on around her. Reading the story through the ghosts’ perspectives really didn’t give me that. I learned relatively nothing about her and I got as far as page 100. I think by this time I should have some knowledge about the main character.

A group of ghosts telling the story may have been a unique element is writing this novel, but the conversations they had were pointless drivel. The dialog went nowhere. Maybe it is just me but I just didn’t see the point of it. It made the author appear that she was grasping at straws. She was being inconsistent with her writing and inconsistent with the narrative, which was also an annoyance. I was having a hard time figuring out which was the past and which was the present. The writing went back and forth and I had a difficult time following the plot through. I had a hard time understanding the ghosts’ motive, if any, and also Jane’s. This was very disappointing because the storyline is very interesting. I also work in an archival setting and love history and trying to figure out the past. But from what I read so far, I have a hard time believing the author has that same passion.

Maybe sometime in the far future, I will finish reading this book.  But with such a disconnected tone and a lack of an attachment with any of the characters, finishing it will be very, very far in the future. There are so many more interesting books to read.

And yet, another over hyped book bites the dust.

Overall rating: 1 out of 5 stars.

Note: I received this book from Blogging for Books for an honest review.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter

  1. My experience with this book was the same. I tried reading it and stopped at about 100 pages in as well. The events at the asylum were interesting but I’m not a fan of the narration. I kept getting distracted while I read so I stopped reading. I’ll have to donate the book.

    Liked by 1 person

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