By Marisha Peissl
Published June 5, 2018 by Delacorte Press
In high school, Beatrice Hartley and her closest friends ruled the school. They were the kids everyone wanted to be. Then her boyfriend Jim died under suspicious circumstances, and now it’s been a year since Beatrice has seen any of her friends. When she receives an invitation from one of the group, Whitley, to celebrate Whitley’s birthday at her seaside estate, Beatrice decides to go, hoping to discover the truth behind Jim’s death. It’s a weird, uncomfortable night, culminating a near-miss car crash and a visit from an odd old man who calls himself the Keeper. He tells them they’re stuck in a place between life and death called the Neverworld Wake. They think he’s a harmless crank, until they wake up the next morning and it’s the same day over again. The Keeper tells them that they must take a vote, and only when they’ve unanimously chosen one of themselves to save, the others will pass on to the next stage.
They’re now stuck in time, forced to live the same day over and over, seemingly trapped in the area near the estate. They can’t stay awake, and whenever they fall asleep at the end of the day, they wake up back in the same day again. The friends all react differently to their predicament. Beatrice goes home over and over to see her parents, while flighty Whitley and intense Cannon con their way onto a yacht to torment the other passengers. Kipling tries suicide (unsuccessfully). Oddball Martha spends most of her time alone. Eventually, the friends decide to try to solve the mystery of Jim’s death, which forces them to work together, as much as they seem to loathe each other, being stuck in this bizarre Groundhog Day-esque reality.
This is a really interesting, gripping book. The idea of being stuck in time, with a bunch of former friends you’ve grown apart from, is pretty awful. But when they start making plans to solve the mystery, being able to live the same day over and over becomes something of an advantage. If a plan doesn’t work the first time, just try again the next day with the knowledge of what didn’t work the day before. They’re able to test the limits of the world. It’s creepy and sometimes funny. There are also elements of the Neverworld that come from an obscure cult classic sci-fi novel that Martha is obsessed with.
This book gave me similar vibes to a few other books. There’s a bit of The Secret History, a little The Magicians, and a little We Were Liars. It’s a little creepy and weird and an excellent read. I highly recommend it, and I’ll be checking out the author’s earlier books.
I received an ARC for review from Amazon Vine.