Ruth’s life isn’t all she hoped it would be; with her partner driving her mad and her day-to-day life becoming increasingly stressful, she makes a choice that will change her life forever...
Author of this stand-alone novel, Kate Sawyer, was an actor and producer before turning her attention to writing fiction. She has written for both short films and theatre productions. She lives in East Anglia, where she had her first child as a solo mother by choice.
Ruth lives in the heart of London. She works as a school teacher who enjoys drinking and falling in love. With her newest relationship becoming a little too much for her, Ruth decides to take a trip to New Zealand, leaving her friends and family behind, to fulfil a wish of saving the whales.
However, when she arrives in the foreign place, everything seems too quiet. She walks for miles, not seeing a living soul.
With the world seemingly coming to an end, Ruth finds herself clambering into the mouth of a beached whale alongside a complete stranger. When she emerges from the mouth of the beast, the world she knew is gone, and a new world of white stares back at her.
Will she survive? What has caused this mess? Ruth needs to figure out how to stay alive...
So, what did I think?
Upon receiving my copy of The Stranding, I was eager to open up to the first page and read about this unique-sounding story; unfortunately, the blurb was the only exciting thing I read.
The first few pages read more like a poem than the opening to a book, which sounds nice in retrospect, but I found the language rather forcibly mature making it seem like the prologue was trying a little too hard.
Once I got further into the novel, I became both intrigued and confused; one chapter focused on Ruth’s past life, before what appeared to be the end of the world, and the next saw her battle for survival with a man named Nik, in the mouth of a whale...
My issue with this, is that each part of the story was perfectly decent on its own; I didn’t enjoy the splicing of the two. I simply didn’t think that an inner-city life with complicated romances and judgemental friends combined well with a bleak description of Ruth being stuck in a whale with a total stranger.
I can definitely see the interest, however; one story split into two is an excellent idea, but sadly it didn’t pay off. Each side was rather interesting alone, but combined it seemed rather messy and confused.
Despite these downfalls, the novel did create a great picture for both sides; the descriptive language was wonderful, and I could imagine every nook and cranny Sawyer described. Ruth’s family made the book a bit more wholesome and lovable.
While the apocalypse-type chapters were an odd interruption from the main character’s normal life, it was interesting to think about how Ruth came to be there, and why she is so far from home.
The way Sawyer reveals the answers to some of the questions I had was quite clever, and the showing not telling aspect of the book, which can be rather hard to do when writing novel, was fantastic as I often felt a small bit of closure when I understood how certain events had taken place.
In spite of the great language and wonderful imagery, the main character didn’t really grab me. Ruth seems a simple character, which is fine, but there was nothing special about her, unfortunately. While many main characters make mistakes, if only to be redeemed later on in order to gain love from readers, Ruth simply didn’t jump out and create any extra admiration for me to give her.
The Stranding is a tale of mistakes, determination and love. However, with all the decent things about this novel, it still fell rather flat and didn’t grab my attention, like it gripped so many other readers.
Written by Melissa, who you can follow on Twitter @melissajournal
The justice system in the UK is broken, that we can probably all agree on. In Black and White is the account of a young, brave woman who decided that the prejudice and negativity that surrounds Black people and other ethnic minorities must stop: this is her story...
Tagged in Book review