Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Book Review: FOUND by Emily Brett


Title: Found
Author: Emily Brett
Publisher: Sparkpress
Read: September 2016
Expected publication: 18 October 2016

Synopsis (Goodreads):

Twenty-seven-year-old ICU nurse Natalie Ulster has a desire to see the world, in case she dies young like her mother, and a need to heal, which is compensation for her own damaged heart. Armed with an independence and self-reliance that stems from her father s emotional abandonment and wanting to separate herself from a deranged nurse whose husband just died under suspicious circumstances on Natalie s watch Natalie grabs life by the globe and accepts successive assignments in Belize, Australia, and Arizona. When Natalie meets Dr. Joel Lansfield, a physician who is also familiar with grief, she finds that Joel sees her for the strong woman she is, and loves her for all she has yet to figure out but she s not sure she s ready to make room in her heart for love. Desperate to maintain her emotional distance with Joel, she continues to travel. In each country, however, she finds herself confronted with near-death accidents, from a poisoned drink to a severe food allergy to being thrown overboard in the Great Barrier Reef. Too many coincidences force her to ask herself a frightening question: Is someone trying to kill her?"

My thoughts:

Natalie is a young ICU nurse who loves her job. However, lately her days have seemed somewhat joyless and exhausting and she feels that she is not living life to the fullest. Having lost her mother to cancer at an early age, she is afraid that she will run out of time to do all the things she has dreamed of before the same fate befalls her. When the opportunity to travel as an agency nurse comes along, she jumps at it, taking first an assignment to Belize and later to Australia. But soon Natalie realises that she can’t escape her demons – or her enemies – that easily, and realises that she must face up to the past in order to embrace the future.

Being a nurse myself, the premise of the story appealed to me and I thought I would be able to relate to its setting and protagonist. I really enjoyed the human aspect of Natalie’s patient encounters and the little side stories relating to her work, where the author’s love for her profession shone through for me, as did the common frustrations of our job. I also liked how the loss of her mother at an early age gave Natalie a vulnerable side and affected her in many ways in her adult life, driving some of her actions in the novel. However, I found it very difficult to relate to Natalie’s voice, who is 27 years old but sounds like a stroppy teenager throughout the book, which is totally at odds with her professional side. The pages are peppered with her rather juvenile angry phrases, such as: “You want to go bitch? Let’s go.” Or “What the fuck? This is not my fault, buddy. Hell no!” Do professionals in their mid-twenties really talk like this? Not any of the people I work with – it got a bit tedious after a while. Perhaps this would appeal to a younger audience, but I felt like I was in the room with my sulky teenage daughter, resisting the urge to shake her and telling her to snap out of it!

There were also some glaring holes in some of the medical details in the story, which were hard to overlook. Given the author’s professional background and experience I guess this was for the benefit of entertainment for the not medically trained reader and to spice up the action parts of the story, but it took some of the book’s credibility away for me. I guess it is a fine line between bogging down the story with too much medical jargon and detail, but on the other hand there is always the risk that people who work in the industry read it and roll their eyes in frustration if the facts don’t add up. I have never been good at suspension of disbelief for the sake of entertainment, so this really bugged me. I also thought that the story generally floundered a bit, roaming he streets of different genres like a poor little orphan Annie in search of a home. Was it supposed to be a romance, a mystery, a coming-of-age story? The mystery part was a bit too far-fetched and underdeveloped for me, and I wished that the author had concentrated more on the aspect of a young woman trying to “find herself” and overcome the shadow of her mother’s death and the unhappy childhood that followed. The romance part would have fit into this scheme perfectly.

As it was, the book as a whole did not really work for me personally, but I think that as a general idea the story had a lot of potential. Seeing how this is a debut novel, I look forward to giving this author another try as I think she has some great stories waiting to be written, using the background of her passion for her job and her many experiences as a nurse as a base for future novels.  

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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