Monday, 3 November 2014

Book Review | Tape by Steven Camden.

"Record a voice and it lasts forever...

In 1993, Ryan records a diary on an old tape. He talks about his mother's death, about his dreams, about his love for a new girl at school who doesn't even know he exists.

In 2013, Ameliah moves in with her grandmother after her parents die. There, she finds a tape in the spare room. A tape with a boy's voice on it - a voice she can't quite hear, but which seems to be speaking to her.

Ryan and Amelia are connected by more than just a tape.

This is their story." (synopsis and cover from (x)

I got this book back in January, read it in July, and couldn't find the words to review it until November. So now, here we are. Apologies for the long wait.

Tape is about a boy and a girl: Ryan, and Ameliah. Ryan lives in 1993, and has lost his mother. Ameliah lives in 2013, and has lost both of her parents. See the parallels? One day, they both flick a switch and while recording a tape, hear each other's voices. That's when it hits them: they are more connected than they initially realised.

When I first read the blurb, I was all like, 'Yeahhh, this sounds like a young adult version of The Lakehouse.* Trippy.' Unfortunately, I found that what was in the blurb was very different to what the actual story was.

I had a lot of problems with this novel. And honestly? I couldn't finish it. We'll start with the cons though so I can finish on the one positive note.

This book was painfully slow. Like, painfully slow. I read up until about halfway through the novel, and virtually nothing had happened. They had sort-of talked through the tape cassette, but it was seen as a freak blip - something that couldn't have actually happened. While the writing was interesting, I feel like perhaps it was being used as the thing that was supposed to carry the novel. I don't think the writing was strong enough to do that.

I also found the characters quite ill-developed. This goes hand in hand with the whole 'not-a-lot-happening' thing. Likewise, I felt like there was a disparity between the age we, the readers, were told, and the age the dialogue painted them at. I kept assuming they were around fifteen, but in the book, we are reminded again and again they're thirteen or fourteen. It threw me for a bit of a whirl, to be honest.

Finally, I found it predictable. I quickly scanned the last few pages, and all of my suspicions had been confirmed there. While I liked that there was an emphasis on a different sort of love to romance, it was obvious (to me).

The one thing I liked: the writing. It was interesting, different. Camden didn't use the typical quotation marks, and it intrigued me.

Overall, not hugely impressed by the book. The pacing really just threw me and I found the novel difficult to enjoy, as a result. 2 stars.

*You know, that movie with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves? Yea.

Rating: ** (2 Stars)
Publisher: Harper Collins Australia
Publication Date: 30 January 2014

Want to buy the book? You can get it here:
Thank you to Harper Collins Australia for sending me a review copy

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