I abruptly realised today that the large number of book reviews I scheduled back in October were going to run out this week, and I needed to write some more. I definitely haven’t been on top of this whole book reviewing thing lately. This review is adapted from a somewhat brief one on Goodreads, and since it’s already a few weeks since I read it, it might not be as good as some of my others. Sorry! I’ll try and resume business as usual when I can — after all, my Christmas break is coming up, so I can write all of the reviews.
Hindsight was, like most of the books I review here, a book I got from NetGalley as an ARC. It had an intriguing concept: it’s a variant on reincarnation stories, wrapped up in ideas about forgiveness and the past. It also manages to include Chaucer and history and all sorts of different events, which helps when it’s me you’re trying to lure in.
However, it was difficult to follow — the story was muddled to the point where I always felt I was missing part of the information, but not in a good anticipatory way, just a confusing way. I felt like there was probably a solid plot underneath it all, but certain details stayed in the author’s mind, and weren’t made clear enough in the book for a reader to follow without additional / external information.
Although it was especially difficult at the start of the book and I started to understand more and more as it went on, I still felt that pieces were missing by the time I reached the end.
My other major issue was that there were a lot of characters, and they were all introduced within a very short space of time. This was exacerbated by the fact that the protagonist/narrator knew the majority of them in her past lives, so she kept describing characters both as thy are now, and how they used to be. We don’t just have to keep up with her now-brother — we also need to know that he’s her then-cousin, just as this now-plumber may or may not be a then-villain.
Although I liked that people she encountered might fulfil different roles to those they played in past lives, and could see how that could add to the conflict and drama (imagine if someone you’d previously dated ended up being a relative in the next life. Awkward), it made for a lot of confusion as I tried to get my head around all the names and which ones went with which character. I mean, you guys know me, right? You’ve read enough of my reviews to know by now that I’m bad at names, which is why I so rarely talk about characters as anything other than ‘the protagonist’.
Plus, when you’ve got that many characters it’s hard to know which ones you’re supposed to get attached to. Some of that confusion was deliberate (i.e. the protagonist isn’t certain what role they’re playing in this life, threfore isn’t sure whether they’re trustworthy or whether they’re potentially a villain), but some of it was definitely just my response. I think that might have been more effective if they’d been introduced more gradually.
I would give this book three stars for its potential and the fact that I kept reading even though I was confused and/or put off by both an overload and a lack of information. However, it felt somewhat unpolished, and I would definitely have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t felt that the narrative was full of gaps that were never really filled in.