The October List by Jeffrey Deaver

Where do I start this review? The beginning or should I start at the end and work back? That’s what would Jeffrey Deaver would probably do. But I might still be confused.

Book Review The October List by Jeffrey Deaver

Blurb

Gabriela waits desperately for news of her abducted daughter.

At last, the door opens.

But it’s not the negotiators. It’s not the FBI.

It’s the kidnapper.

And he has a gun.

 How did it come to this?

 Two days ago, Gabriela’s life was normal. Then, out of the blue, she gets word that her six-year-old daughter has been taken. She’s given an ultimatum: pay half a million dollars and find a mysterious document known as the “October List” within 30 hours, or she’ll never see her child again.

A mind-bending novel with twists and turns that unfold from its dramatic climax back to its surprising beginning, THE OCTOBER LIST is Jeffery Deaver at his masterful, inventive best.

My Review

Reading this book was a struggle. It defies all the logic of a regular book. Beginning with the final scene the reader then backtracks through the narrative learning more and more about the final scene. Which you read at the beginning. It’s a challenge for both reader and writer. It goes against everything you learn as a reader and come to expect. As you can imagine for the first third of the book – The October List makes little sense at all.

Review of the book The October List by Jeffrey Deaver

Yes, the books style will take some time to get used to. You’ll be reading along, and a pivotal character appears and yet we have no idea how Gabriella came to meet that person. But you’re in the thick of the action so trying to figure it out is impossible. As you read further in, and go into the past of the book you learn little snippets. Clever bits the author has orchestrated to keep you intrigued. To make you keep reading. Two chapters later you find out how that character is related to the complex plot; but then become confused two pages later!

I did do a lot of re-reading. Mainly because I was convinced that I had missed something in the page before. It does stop the flow a little but due to the style of the book I don’t think there’s any way to avoid this.

The problem with reading a book in reverse chronology is that you don’t learn about the characters as you move through the book. You don’t know their background’s, you don’t know their personalities but that’s what makes it work at the end. It’s as though you need to work for the final reveal. The format is definitely marmite in that respect. You’re either going to love it or hate it.

Review of the Book, The October List by Jeffrey Deaver

Working backwards and knowing the outcome you would think that the book lacks any shock or surprises. But there’s plenty along the way to keep you in suspense. A few chapters from the end it all begins to unravel but at that point you (should) be completely submersed in the story. I don’t think the book would have had as much impact written from present/past to future but, because of the nature of the storytelling the ending is very brilliant. It leaves you feeling shocked you didn’t guess at the beginning what was happening. But in a good way. Once you get to the end I’m pretty sure you’ll reread the first chapter (the real ending) and feel a sense of calm.

The writing is really tight and succinct. It doesn’t waffle or mess around. This is very important because you’re concentrating so intensely on what might be on the next page once finished. This is a very clever book. The characters are well distinguished and likeable and there’s a little romance woven in throughout the action. Gabriella is at times frustrating as a character; but as you work into the book it becomes understandable why she’s so edgy, and unstable.

Final Thoughts

The writing style will make you work because it isn’t a particularly fluid or easy to read. But that’s the fun of it. Is it something I think everyone will start doing. No. I don’t think so. But it is interesting and a very different read? Yes 100%.

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2 Comments

  1. January 11, 2017 / 1:17 pm

    Great review, Lizzy! I am a sucker for fractured narratives – have you read David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks? It isn’t in reverse chronology, but it certainly takes the narrative timeline and gives it a good shaking…

  2. January 13, 2017 / 5:43 am

    Great review. I love books with reversed chronology and when author plays with structure of a book. So will add this one to my list. -)

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