September 14, 2012

Review: The Edge of Nowhere

Book Cover By Elizabeth George
Available now from Viking (Penguin)
Review copy

You may be familiar with Elizabeth George since her Inspector Lynley series is quite popular.  THE EDGE OF NOWHERE is her young adult debut and proves that she might have a future in the genre.  (Which is good, since there is quite a bit of set up for a series.)  George doesn't completely leave her roots behind - THE EDGE OF NOWHERE is something of a mystery that isn't a mystery.

Becca King used to be known as Hannah Armstrong.  But she can hear whispers of other people's thoughts and she 'heard' her stepfather admitting he killed his partner.  She and her mother run and her mother arranges for Becca to stay with an old friend on Whidbey Island.  But that old friend dies the night Becca arrives and she's left to fend for herself.  She soon meets several islanders who turn out to be important when popular and athletic Derric, whom she bonded with instantly, is hurt in the woods.  No one knows whether he was fell or was pushed, and the people who were in the woods with him aren't forthcoming about their reasons for being there.

There are several romances in THE EDGE OF NOWHERE, but I loved that the central boy-girl relationship is a platonic one.  High-school dropout Seth Darrow turns out to be Becca's greatest ally and not the stoner the entire town thinks he is.  He's hard-working and sweet, but doesn't have much direction aside from wanting to be a musician.  The book sometimes slips into his point of view as well as that of his ex-girlfriend Hayley.  The shifts in perspective emphasize how people make decisions about those around them based on little information.

THE EDGE OF NOWHERE is not a plot-driven book.  While someone might have hurt Derric, there isn't the urgency of a murderer on the loose, and Becca's stepfather is a distant spectre.  This is more of a getting to know the cast novel.  Becca isn't the only person with secrets on Whidbey Island and she might not even be the only person with powers.  George's novel relies on small-town atmosphere and enigmatic characters to keep the story moving.  It worked for me.

Fans of claustrophobic, character-driven fiction will flock to THE EDGE OF NOWHERE.  The promise of future paranormal shenanigans and the stepfather's reappearance will have readers clamoring for the sequel.  I haven't read the Inspector Lynley books, so I don't know if George's adult audience will be interested in THE EDGE OF NOWHERE.  But I'd tell them to give it a try.

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