2021 Reading Challenge

2021 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 3 books toward her goal of 245 books.

Book Review: Follow Me by Ken Howard

If we can make Virtual worlds and their relationships so totally lifelike, attractive and immersive – might we not wish to stay there?

I love the world-within-a-world genre – I find it fascinating… Add in some sci-fi, a mystery, and London/its surrounds, and you nearly always have me hooked. Follow Me offered all of these in spades!

The book opens with a mystery – what happened to Andrew Daunt? The Golden Child of the Daunt Family (and his entire corner of the world, come to think of it), Andrew goes missing on his brother’s birthday – and his brother, Chris, simply cannot come to terms with it. In an attempt to deal with this out-of-the-blue, world-rocking loss, Chris digs into Andrew’s room – and his computer. Things quickly take a turn for the very interesting as a result…

The family drama in this one felt a bit overdrawn and off on occasion. Perhaps it’s not – I’m fortunate enough that I’ve never had to deal with an out-of-the-blue world-rocking loss, and maybe this is exactly how people act. I can certainly see where a family could fall apart in such times, but the emotional response of each of the remaining Daunts sometimes felt a little forced, like the drama was escalating because of the book, rather than because of the things happening *in* the book (if that makes any sense – it’s a little meta- as far as explanations, but that’s apropros because so much of the book is in fact rather meta-!).

Where the book really shone for me was in Chris’s back-and-forth between worlds as he tries to figure out what in the worlds is going on and where his brother might be… Zaronda and London are a great offset for each other; Chris has the opportunity to create his own identity in the former –
a task he seems at sixes and sevens with in the latter, largely because he’s always felt overshadowed by Andrew. The tension that builds within him, as he tries to balance his dual experiences, is pretty well managed. At times, it explodes out of him in rage and frustration – but those explosions felt genuine and, weirdly, made him more likeable to me (because they made him more individually human, rather than just a shadow of his more famous brother).

As Chris discovers – and explores – more, the story develops nicely into a non-traditional whodunit that I found engaging and very fun to read. The supporting cast – particularly Philippa – was helpful in keeping the story moving, but mainly served as obstacles/assistants for Chris. I would have liked to see a little more development of individual personalities and motivations there (again, particularly of Philippa) – I think it would have helped make the family dynamic feel less forced at times if we understood a bit more about Guy and Eileen Daunts as people, rather than just as Andrew and Chris’s parents. Ditto Philippa – why did this woman follow Chris so readily, buying into everything he was telling her and continuing to work the case long after she should? It felt like there must have been some personal history/backstory that would explain it, but it’s never provided. These aren’t huge issues, don’t get me wrong – this was a great find and a very easy and enjoyable read. They are just the few questions/issues I ran into in what was generally a really cool story.

My review copy was provided by NetGalley.

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