Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Caragh Reviews - Shadow Web by N.M.Browne

Published - 4th February 2008
Publisher - Bloomsbury
Format - Paperback
Synopsis - Jessica Allendon is bored and Googles her name. Weirdly, she finds another girl, same age, same name, also living in London. They arrange to meet. At the designated time and place, Jess sees the girl, shock registering on both their faces as they realise they look identical. They shake hands and in that instant are catapulted into each other's worlds. Jessica finds herself somewhere which looks like the London of 50 years ago, but the year is still 2008. In this parallel London, the history is different, key war memorials are missing, and the Jessica whose life she now inhabits was involved in a dark and sinister conspiracy. Jess must convince everyone she is the same girl, at all costs, if she wants to get back to her London - alive.

Last year Brianna was working at a bookstore and so I sent her off one day with the request that she returns with 3 completely random books for me to read. This was one of them that she picked up and though it's taken me forever to actually read it, it was a good choice. The cover is so beautiful and the text and picture are slightly raised and argh just so so gorgeous. It feels a little steampunky too which is always good.

Shadow Web is set in 2008 and when Jessica Allendon googles her own name, everything changes except the year. It's a great concept, especially as so many people DO google their names and I guess in that respect it's relateable. I've always wondered if there's someone out there who shares my name (which isn't realistic I guess, my name is pretty odd!) Browne is also a new-to-me author and that's always great too. 

Strangely, I didn't find the MC very likeable and though she changes through the course of the book, I still didn't feel any kind of connection to her. However, there are other characters in the book that I really loved and their whole personas were brilliantly written. The London that Jess finds herself in is vastly different to the one that she (and we) know. Landmarks are missing, restrictions for women are in place and an abnormal amount of people are German speakers. It doesn't take much to figure out why the world is so different but the intrigue for me was how it happened in the first place. How the two Jessicas managed to swap places. Unfortunately that was the only downfall of the book, too. Though it is commented on, it's never really explained in depth and I would have loved to have known more about it. A few times in the book Jessica just glazes over things rather than explain them. 

The actual plot was great though and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I went into the book blind and came out having a great reading experience. The romance in the book isn't in your face and it develops at a good enough pace and it most definitely isn't the focus of the book, or even relevant to the plot at all. Just a nice little extra. Shadow Web adds a lot of mystery, intrigue and questions throughout the plot which kept me interested. There are a couple of good lines that comment on society but nothing so big that it feels like you're reading a great masterpiece. It's a great book and is super quick to read and doesn't really require any effort on behalf of the reader. A straightforward and enjoyable read!

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