Sunday, 28 January 2018

The Great Alone

Author: Kristin Hannah
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Type: e-book
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Publisher: St Martin's Press
First Published: February 6, 2018
First Line: "That spring, rain fell in great sweeping gusts that rattled the rooftops."

Book Description from GoodReadsAlaska, 1974. Untamed. Unpredictable. A story of a family in crisis struggling to survive at the edge of the world, it is also a story of young and enduring love. Cora Allbright and her husband Ernt, a recently-returned Vietnam veteran scarred by the war, uproot their thirteen-year-old daughter Leni to start a new life in Alaska. Utterly unprepared for the weather and the isolation, but welcomed by the close-knit community, they fight to build a home in this harsh, beautiful wilderness. At once an epic story of human survival and love, and an intimate portrait of a family tested beyond endurance, The Great Alone offers a glimpse into a vanishing way of life in America.

With her trademark combination of elegant prose and deeply drawn characters, Kristin Hannah has delivered an enormously powerful story that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the remarkable and enduring strength of women. About the highest stakes a family can face and the bonds that can tear a community apart, this is a novel as spectacular and powerful as Alaska itself. It is the finest example of Kristin Hannah's ability to weave together the deeply personal with the universal.

My Rating: 3 stars

My Review: Kristin Hannah's latest book is a story about a family in turmoil set against the ruthless yet stunning beauty of Alaska in 1974.

This family saga felt like two different books. The first three-quarters was a gritty look at the Allbright family as they struggled to settle into the wilds of Alaska and deal with the trouble within their own family. Life in 'off the grid Alaska' was harsh, dangerous and lonely but Hannah's descriptions of the unforgiving wilds of Alaska were my favourite part of the book (with Alaska herself easily becoming my favourite character). 

But after awhile the story started to feel redundant as the same issues kept popping up with the characters reacting in the same way each time. There's also a fair amount of 'telling, not showing' and I found the dialogue weak which didn't bode well for building a connection with Leni and the other characters who were a one-dimensional bunch.

Then, at three-quarters of the way through the book, it had a different feel. I ended up skimming the last hundred pages which was filled with hard to believe scenes and an ending that felt rushed and tied up so easily that it was eye-roll worthy. Hannah was going for tragedy and there are bucket loads of it but there were so many issues (PTSD, abuse, poverty, death ...) that it felt soap opera-ish. It was tragedy after tragedy without enough room in between for readers to take a breath.

Overall, I appreciated the beautiful descriptions of Alaska (and the delightful Large Marge - who should have had her own chapters) and I liked the premise but overall this book fell short for me.

Disclaimer: This ARC was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.


JoAnn said...

shocking but true.....20+ years ago Janet Dailey published a really good novel about Alaska guessed it....THE GREAT ALONE.

Couldn't Hannah and/or her publishers have found this out????

Laurie@The Baking Bookworm said...

Hi JoAnn - that is a little odd that the title would be the same but I believe that Alaska has been referred to as "The Great Alone" before which may be why it has been used for at least two books and one movie, I believe. Makes it confusing though, doesn't it?

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