Review: “Before I Let Go” by Marieke Nijkamp

*sighs* If I had two words to describe the experience of this book, they would be “ultimately unsatisfying.” This book had me for a time and then it quickly lost me. I will give credit where credit is due: this is a better novel than Nijkamp’s debut novel, “This Is Where It Ends.” It’s easy to read through and ultimately won’t take you all that long for the notation of the prose (in my case, the audiobook that I picked up helped), but the sheer repetition of information in this novel cut the tension so. many. times. That was the first strike against it – some events were revisited, notations of important plot points were rehashed…I don’t think the repetition did what the author probably thought it would do. The aim might’ve been emotional potency, but instead it felt like it was backtracking and cutting the progression of the novel, even taking away moments where it could’ve fleshed out the characters further or given a better air to the mystery surrounding Kyra’s death.

Second strike was the oddly flat characters. Honestly, I didn’t really feel much for the cast other than Kyra and Corey, though that might’ve been the intention.

Third strike was the overarching plot. I could appreciate the type of story it was going for – atmospheric horror/mystery in a small town with a young woman (Corey) mourning the loss of a friend (even a love), Kyra, who died under mysterious circumstances. Kyra had mental illness and supposedly died in an accident, but the townspeople are like this steadily paranoid mob that believes Kyra predicted her own death and died for a purpose, when the truth is actually more sinister and heartless.

But I just couldn’t believe in what this novel was trying to sell. Even with the notation of inclusive identities, even with the intimacy between the characters – the actual progression of events in this novel was so unbelievably trite that I just didn’t care for it at all. The narrative ended up going nowhere and fell flat by the time it reached the end.

In the end, it was a novel that really didn’t stay with me by the time I finished it. I might try another Nijkamp novel in the future, but I don’t think her narrative style or stories work for me, and it saddens me to say that considering this (and even her debut novel) had the potential to be far better than the actual product.

Overall score: 1.5/5 stars.

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