Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Nightlife by Rob Thurman

I have a confession to make, I got my copy of Nightlife in January after reading Donna's recommendation on Kelley Armstrong's message board. I read two chapters and promptly put it somewhere in the middle of my primary TBR pile and kind of forgot about it. (Sorry Donna.)

Anyhoo it was then nominated as the bookclub book for March on KA's site, which was great because I already had a copy and usually (being in the UK) I find myself weeks behind everyone else's comments. (A quick aside here I highly recommend Kelley Armstrong's site both as a resource for her own writing if you're a fan, and if you're a genre fan in particular. The books recommendation section of the forum is well worth checking out if ever you're stuck for something to read.)

Back to the review.

Nightlife tells the story of two brothers: Cal, the younger brother who is half human / half 'monster' and Niko who will do whatever it takes to protect his sibling. Currently residing in New York and trying to keep a low profile, we join them as their pursuers finally catch up.

Two chapters in and I'm having the same problem as I did back in January, only this time I'm reading it for the bookclub which means I always make a real effort to finish the book. So I struggle on.

I'm not sure at what point I got sucked into the story, I think it started to happen around Chapter 4 and by the time Robin Goodfellow turned up in Chapter 5 I didn't want to put the book down. (The Wizard of Oz reference on page 66 helped. :) )

The major focus of the story for me was the relationship between the two brothers, they are siblings who've had to learn how to get along and depend on one another. But I don't think it would have worked as well if it hadn't been for the secondary characters - Georgina, Promise, Robin, Boggy. There isn't a character here that doesn't have a part to play, which makes me very intrigued about Rafferty and Catcher who only appear briefly at the end (and win the prize for most mysterious characters). I liked how it was made clear that these creatures / people have their own agendas and problems to deal with and might not necessarily have the welfare of the brothers at heart. And because we only see them through Cal's eyes we can never 100% know what their motivations are.

Sometimes when a story is written in a very tight point of view either the author will feel the need to intrude and explain why the other character's are behaving this way, or another character will explain. Thankfully this didn't happen here; and at least for the first part of the book, we are as much in the dark about what's happening as Cal is.

As a protagonist, Cal is a cynic with a cutting sense of humour; about halfway through the story, he undergoes a major transformation, and this is where the story lost it a little for me. Because he retreats from his brother and their companions, we no longer have the interaction that I loved during the first half of the book. In some places I felt like I was being told what was happening instead of experiencing it through Cal. Having said that, the change was a necessary part of the plot, and even though it is dealt with here I still wonder if there will be repercussions in future books.

There were a couple of things I liked about the change though. Firstly, Cal's sense of humour remained the same but it got much nastier, kind of giving you the twisted hope that something of him still remained. Secondly although there were overt changes to his character there were also subtle (blink and you'll miss them) ones as well, the changed Cal has absolutely no problem with going into an elevator whilst the pre-change Cal had made it perfectly clear they were too dangerous for him to use.

Favourite character - Robin Goodfellow, it's a close call but I think he had the best lines.

I can't think of anything else I've read that I can compare it directly to (LOL maybe I need to read more), but the relationship between the brothers did make me think of the relationship between Ukiah and Max from Wen Spencer's Ukiah Oregon series.

I've already bought the sequel Moonshine and am looking forward to finding out what trouble Cal and Niko got into next.

No comments: