I know I usually say “so many books, so little time“, but I feel like it’s time for a new saying – “so many books, not enough eyes”. Do you think it will catch on? Whilst you ponder that, let me tell you about one of my recent reads, Whisper To Me by Nick Lake.
Whisper To Me by Nick Lake
Publication Date: 05 May 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
“I love you. I’m sorry for what I did to you. I’m going to write it all down, explain everything that happened, why I broke your heart.”
Cassie’s own heart was broken when she was younger, by a tragedy she can barely talk about. She lives near the beach, with her angry father and his collection of reptiles, and a voice that whispers strange, dark thoughts into her mind. Cassie is seventeen and she is unravelling. Even when she first meets him, the boy, the one, she can’t begin to imagine that anything could happen between them. That he might be someone amazing. That in the course of one summer, she will go to the darkest places and back again, with him by her side. That she might have to hurt him to save herself.
A few weeks ago, (perhaps even months…), I was very lucky to receive a digital copy of Whisper To Me by Nick Lake to review. However, upon loading it up on my Kindle I noticed that the formatting was a little off. Sometimes this happens with review copies, and whilst I can usually overlook it, in this case there were certain words missing, and I had trouble reading past the first chapter. I kept meaning to contact the publisher about it, but with so many deadlines and other things going on in my life unfortunately it slipped my mind. When I found the paperback version in my local library I realised that having a physical copy would be a better way of reading it. With a physical copy, I could see how much I have read, and how much I had left to go. With it being from the library, the deadline of returning it was definitely a motivator as well… Ain’t nobody got time for library charges.
Whisper To Me is a story told in the format of a love letter, written by our narrator Cassie, to a boy she fell in love with and subsequently betrayed. She promises to explain everything and hopes that by the end of the letter, the boy will agree to meet her and perhaps give their relationship one more chance.
Even though I found Whisper To Me to be well written, unfortunately this was the reason I didn’t particularly enjoy the book. The book is supposed to be a love letter, but this novel was over 500 pages long in paperback form! Who would read a 500 page + love letter, especially in a few days? It reminded me of How I Met Your Mother – instead of saying “hey kids, I met your mother here”, Ted goes round the houses and takes several years to tell the story. Whisper To Me also ended rather abruptly, with no real resolution or explanation of the other sub-plots such as the “Houdini Killer” and the disappearance of her friend.
As this story is told by Cassie from Cassie’s perspective, we do get to know her rather well. She is a flawed character, but she is a likeable one. As she is struggling with a serious mental illness I did root for her to get better, and I could understand why she did certain things. To me, she was a realistic representation of someone struggling. Her illness didn’t go away when a boy came on the scene, nor did it go away easily. Her illness was something she had to accept before she could get better. I know it sounds wrong, but I liked how schizophrenia was the mental illness. YA is very much focused on anxiety and depression and whilst this is fantastic and will definitely help a lot of young people who are struggling, I do feel that there need to be other illnesses addressed. A big thank you to Nick Lake for daring to do something different, as well as educating others on a difficult subject.
However, as much as I liked Cassie as a character, I found the other characters of the novel to be flat and lacking in development. The love interest didn’t particularly stand out to me, and the love story had no build up or tension. Their relationship seemed to escalate rather fast – one of my pet peeves in novels. *grumbles* The other characters of Paris and Julie were interesting, and added a nice touch to the story, but they were seemingly discarded in the later parts of the novel with no real explanation, and I have to ask why they were included at all.
In my opinion, Whisper To Me was too ambitious. There was so much going on, and I felt like the story could have been more focused on less of the issues discussed. In this novel, there was the narrator struggling with her mental health, the breakdown of her romantic relationship, a murder on the loose, her missing friend, her grief over her death mother and her damaged relationship with her father… *stops to catch breath*
I rated Whisper to Me by Nick Lake 3/5 stars on GoodReads. Like I said above, whilst it was well written, it didn’t feel genuine as a story. The book should have been about 300 pages at most; as it was over 500 pages in length it felt like a chore to read. To be brutally honest, I’m not sure if I would recommend this book. I didn’t particularly enjoy it, and hand on heart if I didn’t have the obligation to review it I probably would have abandoned it after the first hundred or so pages.
If I had written Whisper To Me, it would have gone something like this: Cassie developed mental health problems as a result of the tragic loss of her mother. Her detachment caused a rift with her father. A new boy (or girl) walks into the scene, and whilst initially the love story helped Cassie to open up about her mental health, her relapse also broke down the relationship. Cassie seeks to apologise to the love interest, and perhaps in the form of her diary entries and medical notes, she explains her illness and her behaviour. What do you think?