Book Review – Girl Underwater by Claire Kells

by Maryse on November 13, 2016 · 0 comments

in My Book Reviews

Girl Underwater
A survival-against-all-odds situation merging into a potential love story that develops ever so subtly. So subtly, in fact, that while you have a feeling that a bond will be forged forever (an obvious bond due to tremendous circumstance), I didn’t became fully invested in them. Normally, a story such as this one would keep me reading late into the night, unable to put it down, but this one was… slow going. Hesitant, and confusing as we switched back and forth on the timeline (annoying me, because I KNEW what timeline interested me the most. And we didn’t spend enough time there for me to fully connect).

But the sweet, developing love story is simmering in the background (and I do LOVE a soulmate type of bond). But you don’t really realize it… or feel it, until the end. But the end. OMG THAT POIGNANT ENDING!!! The epilogue saved the whole thing for me, making my heart swell by coming full circle (with who, and what, exactly? I won’t say ;) – yes it’s got a touch of love triangle going on – but not in an obnoxious way, and there’s other… stuff). But I’ll admit that this story wasn’t what I was expecting it to be from the synopsis.

So what’s it about? Two college swim teammates (Colin and Avery) take a flight together that ends up crashing in the Colorado Rockies.

It occurs to me then, finally, that we’re going down. There are other people sharing this nightmare, two hundred of them, seeing the same horrors and experiencing the same despair and hearing the same staccato beat of air and engines. Our paths were supposed to diverge again in Boston, but they didn’t. We’re here. We’re ending. Together.

Only a few survive the initial crash,

The younger two are crying as they cling to their mothers’ lifeless bodies. The older boy peers over the seats, his dad’s iPad still clutched in his hand. He meets my gaze with startling intensity, his eyes pleading with me to do something.

…and they huddle together trying to figure out how to stay alive, hoping that they will be found before they starve or freeze to death.

Through all of this, Colin doesn’t just keep his cool; he creates it. The hysteria surrounding us doesn’t touch him.

He thinks we actually have a chance.

While they are able to function slightly on the meager supplies floating on shore from the lake they are stranded on, their situation is dire, and some injuries throw a real monkey wrench in the situation. Sounds AWESOME. And mostly was… when it was “then” But this story brings us too often (for me) to the “now” part of life. Kind of like “Room” – a terrifying thriller, but with a whole look into the present life of a survivor… now trying to emotionally function back in the real world.

The truth is, I’m not strong. A stronger person would have answered the media’s questions in details, and layers, and harsh truths; a stronger person would have found some way to cope. Instead, I told the world a story rooted in denial and self-preservation. Survival. What a magnificent lie.

That blurb gave me the ultimate blurb-jolt (I’m a sucker for survival stories – especially if a deep bond is forged amongst the chaos – comfort amidst certain dread), but I was expecting this story to be more of an emotional, life-or-death thriller, with a side of relief via the connections forged.

What it turned out to be was MUCH too gentle on me. The writing and storytelling lulled me into reading chapter after chapter lacking my usual enthusiasm for a story such as this (at least during the “present” chapters). A back and forth storyline, following the life of the heroine at a time of terrible trauma and narrow escape, and her present day situation, as she attempts to heal from the ordeal, suffering episodes of PTSD, and questioning her own worth in life.

He could die from this.

He will die from this.

I turn my head before he can see me cry.

In fact, she carries a guilt within her, but when all was said and done, once all was revealed, I found to be… a bit of a stretch, as far as personal culpability goes.

And I was somewhat disappointed in already knowing the outcome… the fate of the characters that barely survived a plane crash together in the Colorado rockies.

As the wing sinks beneath the surface, releasing a slow gurgle as it disappears, I can’t help but think about the two hundred souls we left behind.

The reader travels back to the past, and then to the present (I won’t say that it’s an HEA for all characters we get to know), but I will say that “knowing” what the current outcome was, took half of the fervor away. The drama was less intense because I already knew. I just didn’t know all of the details, and those would slowly be revealed as each trip back to “that time” was expanded upon.

It’s a good read for sure. Beautifully written, delicately probed, bitter emotions and all, but slow going for the most part (the present). For me? Not enough detail, and “living” or “surviving” during the days following the plane crash, and too much time with the heroine as she attempts to find herself again. And yes, I can appreciate the reasoning behind her current emotional state, but the intensity just wasn’t there for me.

3.5 stars (but 5 stars for the writing, easily!)

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