The Pause – book review

The Pause

The Pause is a breathtaking and thought-provoking novel, written by John Larkin.

Declan seems to have it all: a loving family, great friends he’s had for years, and a beautiful and amazing girlfriend he would go to the end of the earth for. But there’s something in Declan’s past that’s haunting him. It lies in his subconsciousness and attacks him when he’s most vulnerable. Declan feels as though there’s nothing that will take away the pain that he’s suppressed for so long. So he makes the only decision he thinks he has left – the decision to end it all.

Or does he? As the train approaches and Declan teeters at the ends of the platform, two versions of his life are revealed. In one, Declan watches as his body is destroyed and the lives of those who loved him unravel. In the other, Declan pauses before his jump. And this makes all the difference.

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The Pause. Wow. How do I even begin to describe how I felt about The Pause? Don’t get me wrong, this book wasn’t perfect and I have my criticisms, but this book made me think. Like really, properly think. If I had to choose my favourite thing about reading books, it would be that they make me think – they make me think what it would be like for the characters, they make me think what it would be like living in different worlds, they just make think. I love nothing more than a book that will cause me to question things, and these are the types of books that stay with me long after I’ve read the Acknowledgements. And yes, I’m one of those people that read the Acknowledgements. A lot of the time, I just don’t want the book to end, you know? I feel as though I want to read every single word the author has written. Aaaanyway, back to The Pause.

This book made the reconsider everything I’ve thought about life and death. Sounds pretty deep, right? This book is a deep book. And I know, deep books aren’t for everyone. Some people think deep books are too sad or too confronting. I’d be lying if I said this book was neither sad nor confronting. It was both, but in the best possible ways. The reason why I picked up this book was because it felt so close to be, from just reading the blurb. I, too, have a past that often haunts me. I, too, have some things I’d rather forget. I, too, have sometimes been so buried in my emotions that it feels like I’m suffocating and that I needed to breathe and that the only way I could do that was to escape – forever. Everyone has bad moments in their lives, I know that. Unfortunately, a few of my close friends are depressed – one of them has been particularly suicidal, like Declan – and so I felt really connected to this book. And this book isn’t all sad and gloomy, it’s filled with wit and humour and its ultimate message is that the only way to find a way out of the darkness is to pause, and to live.

One of my criticisms with this book is how graphic one particular scene is. I’m not going to say too much about this scene because I don’t want to spoil anything for those of you who haven’t read the book, but just be warned, there is one very confronting and graphic scene. I don’t usually get affected this much by particularly graphic scenes in books, but this one just seemed particularly nasty. I’m going to give you a heads up to mentally prepare yourself for pages 54 – 56 if you’ve got a paperback edition with the above cover, it might be slightly different for other editions. Let me tell you, I wouldn’t have thought I needed a heads up for this part of the book, but I’m telling you, just watch out for this part of the book. I didn’t want to stop reading the book in this part though, because I felt as though I owed it to the book to read every single word and not skim over the confronting parts, but that meant I felt like I was literally going to throw up and I had to make a hasty retreat to the bathroom. Luckily, I didn’t get to say hello to my dinner once again, but just know that if you’re easily affected by graphic scenes, and even if you don’t think you are, please watch out for this one.

One thing that I was slightly disappointed about in this book was the fact that we got introduced to lots of characters that seemed really interesting, but then we never heard from them again. Some of the people that Declan meets are hardly in the book at all and I felt as though I would have liked to have heard more about them, or at least get some indication to not be expecting them to turn up in the rest of the book. But who I did really enjoy getting to know throughout the book was Dec’s family. In the beginning, I didn’t feel connected to Dec or his family, or even his girlfriend, and that meant that when he was going to commit suicide, I still cared, I just didn’t feel like I knew him and that would have made it a whole lot harder. But I do understand that the suicide aspect had to happen early on in the book in order for everything else to take place after it.

So Declan’s family played a major part in this book and I really enjoyed getting to know his mum, his dad and his sister. The family dynamics were hilarious a lot of the time. Because this book was told over a number of years, I felt as though I watched Declan and his sister grow up, and his parents change, and that was very unique. I don’t think I’ve read many books – or any others – that do the kind of thing that The Pause does. The same goes for all of the other imperative characters in the novel. I loved getting to know all of the characters, Declan in particular, and I felt like I knew him really well by the end of the novel.

This book is told from different times in Declan’s life, and not always in chronological order. This made the book both unique and very suspenseful. We didn’t know everything that had happened with Declan in his past in the beginning, and slowly getting bits of information throughout the book before the ‘big reveal’ was really enjoyable. I didn’t expect this book to have the slight air of mystery that it contained, so I was pleased about the involvement of that, however terrible the actual ‘incident’ was. One of my favourite parts of this entire book was that one of the last chapters was told from nine years after, and the one before that was eight years after. I loved how this book was written in that way because it really adds perspective to everything – the lives of the characters, and just life in general. For example, it shows all of the characters grown up and it makes you, as well as Declan, realise all the things he would have missed out on had he have chosen suicide.

This novel not only shows you how Declan’s life played out when he didn’t chose suicide, but it also makes you think about the worth of your life and everything there is to come. The Pause reinforces the fact that we only live once. No matter what you believe in, the life that you have now will be the only life like this you will ever have, so don’t give up on it. No matter how hard may seem and how tired you might feel, you have to know that life it worth living and that the people you love and the things you love aren’t worth dying for – they’re worth living for. Life is made up of tiny moments – happy moments, beautiful moments – and in order to have these moments and get out of the dark you have to pause. You have to live. I love this book so much for what it has helped me to realise once again. While depressing and heavy in parts, this book is ultimately an inspirational one filled with messages of hope and love and a better tomorrow.

Overall, I absolutely loved this book. The thing I loved most about this book was its themes of love, hope, and making the most of life. This book can be very sad in parts, so I would be cautious about picking it up if you don’t cope well with books with some depressing and dark themes. However, I definitely think this book is worth reading because it’s ultimately very inspirational and it gave me a very positive outlook on life. I’d give The Pause by John Larkin a score of 9 out of 10. If any of you have read this book or if you’re considering reading this book, I’d love to know!

I Was Here – book review

I Was Here

I Was Here is a heart-wrenching and thought-provoking book, written by Gayle Forman.

When Cody learns that her best friend drank a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, she is both shocked and devastated. She and Meg were like two peas in a pod – inseparable until collage wrenched them apart. So how did Cody not know about this? But when Cody travels to Meg’s collage town to pack up her belongings, she learns that there’s a lot about Meg she never knew. When she finds out about who Meg’s roommates were, Ben McAllister, the boy who broke Meg’s heart, and an encrypted computer file, it throws everything about her best friend’s death into question.

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I Was Here was definitely a really great book to read. It wasn’t a happy book – I’m just putting that out there now. There are a lot of parts in this book which are quite confronting and very saddening. I felt like this book is definitely a book that a lot of people should read though, because it tells the story of suicide that often goes untold. I learnt things about this topic that I never knew before and I definitely feel a lot more informed because of it. One of the biggest messages of this book is that when someone you know or someone you love commits suicide, it’s never your fault. That was a really important thing to understand because something similar, though not to this extent, has happened to me.

Late last year, one of my friends told me that they were going to commit suicide and when I heard that from them, I felt as though I had failed as a friend. I though that it was somehow my fault and I hated myself for not seeing that they were struggling sooner. But like Cody in this book, I didn’t have any idea that my friend was ever contemplating this. Though Cody’s story was different to mine, thank goodness. I was able to change my friend’s mind about committing suicide, but it still greatly affected me. The way I broke down into tears couldn’t stop shaking, begging them to not do this will be something that haunts me for the rest of my life.

I really connected with this book because I could really understand the feelings Cody was experiencing. While I felt those things while my friend was telling me what they were going to do, Cody had no idea Meg was going to commit suicide, which would have been harder to deal with. I can’t even imagine what it must be like for people like Cody; people who don’t have any idea that their best friend would be feeling that way and having to deal with the heartbreak and guilt and to some extent, self-hatred, of that happening. I never ever want to experience that, but I feel like this book was a real insight into suicide and how we never really know anyone. This book got me thinking, how well do I know my friends? How well do I know my family? Does everyone wear a facade and pretend to be okay when they aren’t?

Because of the way Cody refused to believe that Meg’s death was not a suicide because of some hints, for example, the way her ‘note’ was in the form of an email and it seemed very impersonal, and the fact that she wrote something along the lines of ‘this is purely my decision’, I began to think that maybe Meg was still alive and that she somehow faked her death or that she was murdered. I was looking forward to seeing Cody try to work out what happened to Meg or who killed her, but the more I read, the more I realised that wasn’t going to really happen. My favourite part of this book would be the end half, where Cody tries to find out more about what led Meg into committing suicide. It was interesting to see her follow clues and track down numbers and people. Not only was this a journey to try and get to understand Meg’s decision more, it was a journey of self-discovery for Cody. She realised many things along this journey, most importantly, she shouldn’t blame herself.

The romance in this book did seem a little bit clichéd. Okay, maybe a lot clichéd. Cody falls for a ‘player’ who realises that she is the one girl he wants to be with and desperately tries to change his ways to be with her. While the romance wasn’t boring or uninteresting, I just didn’t feel the any chemistry between them. I didn’t feel as though the romance really added to the book, but it was all right. It wasn’t anything special, but it was readable.

Another thing I really loved about this book was how Cody made new friends and how she and her mother managed to rejuvenate their relationship. When Cody went to Meg’s collage to pick up her things, she met a lot of the people that used to know Meg. Getting to know them was really interesting and I loved hearing their stories about Meg because a lot of these people knew Meg in a completely different way to how Cody knew her. I loved the scenes where Cody was trying to work out what these people knew and if they could help her understand the lead up to Meg’s suicide. I absolutely loved it when Cody and her mum started to build up their relationship together again. It was really beautiful to see how even after being distant for a long time, your family still loves you and they’re still willing to do anything for you to keep you safe.

Overall, this book was definitely worth my time and I’m really glad I read it. If this sounds like the type of book you’d be interested in reading, I definitely recommend you give it a try. While I enjoyed reading Gayle Forman’s other books more than this one, this is still a beautifully written and thought-provoking book. I’d give I Was Here by Gayle Forman a score of 8.5 out of 10. If you’ve read this book, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

The Program – book review

The Program

Captivating, spell-binding and beautifully written… The Program is the first book in its series, written by Suzanne Young.

It’s the future. Teen suicide is an epidemic. The only solution is The Program.

Sloane must keep her feelings hidden. After her brother committed suicide, Sloane has been desperately trying to never let her true feelings show. After all, just one outburst could land her in The Program – the only proven cause of treatment for teenagers with depression. But there’s something wrong with the teenagers who return from The Program. Their depression is gone, yet so are their memories. The Program means to remove the “infected” memories, but how do you know who you are when memories from your past is stolen from you? All Sloane has to do is make it to her eighteenth birthday; when The Program can’t take her against her will. Then she will be safe.

But Sloane is under constant surveillance both at home and at school. The only time she can be herself is when she’s with James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of the treatment and Sloane knows their love can withstand anything. But they are getting weaker. The depression is setting in. It’s harder to bury their feelings. They both know one thing – The Program is coming for them.Read More »