Wednesday, April 14, 2021

The Survivors by Jane Harper

Kieran Elliott's life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences.


The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home.


Kieran's parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn.


When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away...


 Publisher: Flatiron Books | Genre: Thriller | Pages: 372 | Source: Publisher | Rating: 3 Cups

Atmospheric and thrilling, The Survivors took me to the heart of a small coastal community in Australia and left me sorting through the debris of a storm that happened twelve years ago as well as collecting clues regarding a present day murder.


Here’s what’s going on. Twelve years ago a storm blew in and shattered the tiny community of Evelyn Bay leaving two young men dead and a girl missing. It also shattered the Elliot family and left Kieran with a guilt no one should have to carry. Now back in his hometown—along with his girlfriend—to help his parents move, Kieran feels the old wounds as freshly as when the storm first happened. As though those griefs weren’t enough, the death of a young waitress has everyone on edge and memories of the storm resurfacing. As friends are questioned, old secrets begin to emerge, and things are revealed that change the course of their history.


This was another of my most anticipated releases of 2021 and I wasn’t sure what to expect as I had never read a novel by Jane Harper. I had heard a lot of people refer to her writing as atmospheric and it was that—if ever a novel left me feeling cold and needing to cover up with a warm, comforting blanket, it was The Survivors. While the writing was very vivid and descriptive, it was also a bit slow, which was a bit of a letdown.


This book is told in present day as well as in flashbacks to the day of the storm twelve years ago and, sadly, there was a lot of stuff going on but I don’t feel as though either part really added much until we moved into the middle of the book. There things kicked up a bit but not a lot and I still felt that this book was a lot of talk with little happening. While there was a lot of talk about what happened to Bronte, the waitress that was murdered, and a lot of questions being raised there’s not much of the actual investigation shown. We were however thrown a lot of suspects—who seemed to have motivation and/or was painted to look guilty. There were also a lot of things going on trying to try to throw you off. When everything was revealed, it didn’t shock me but rather seemed a bit lazy in the outcome almost as though the word count limit was creeping up and the author needed to come up with a killer and a reason.


While this book centers around Kieran, there’s a lot of characters in this book and not only do we get to see them in the present we get to see them during the storm and the days after. Sadly, none of the characters are likable or reliable. Then we have Kieran and Mia’s three-month-old daughter who was treated rather like an accessory—something for the characters to tote around and let me tell you this baby went everywhere and was left alone sleeping on the beach on numerous occasions while Kieran swam. I didn’t understand why the author chose to include a baby.


There’s also a lot of questions this book had me asking, like why were certain things not questioned, or even brought up, after the storm. Why was Gabby’s disappearance during the storm put on the backburner? The explanation in the book just didn’t fly with me. There’s also a lot of backstory regarding Finn, Kieran’s brother who drowned, that was brought up momentarily and never explained—which, again, goes into what I was saying about a lot of things happening in this book without the book going anywhere.


This does have thriller aspects to it but, to me, it bordered more on redemption, healing, forgiveness than a full on thriller and, I think, that’s why this book dragged a bit.


Overall, this was an okay read. Yes, it was easy for me to become sucked into this story but it was a bit boring in the fact it took forever for something to start happening. I also wish the ending would have had a bit more so the story would have had a bit more closure.


I think this book is going to be one that has a lot of mixed reviews. If you like thrillers/mysteries that are more character focused yet not character driven, I think you’d really enjoy this book if you don’t mind a slower-paced read.


I thought it was just meh because I wanted a bit more. There was a lot of buildup to certain events that just ended up being lackluster reveals. 

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