The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter is the story about Jane a museum archivist at a museum about to be shut down whom is haunted by her past. When Jane was 15 the little girl she was babysitting walked ahead of her in the woods and was never seen again. The book focuses a lot on Jane's guilt over the years of losing Lily and how it shaped her into the person she has become. At the same time there are a group of spirits whom follow Jane around and narrator her story whilst she tries to solve this mystery about a missing girl from an institution that was located near where Lily went missing.
I have to admit that I did not like this book AT ALL! I mean I really tried and since it was a book I received for review I felt obligated to read the entire thing, rather than just DNF. That being said, I think that had this been a book I picked up on my own I would have not completed it. This is my first book I've read by Hunter, and I don't think I'll be picking any of her other books up anytime soon.
There are a few reasons why I just couldn't get into this book. Firstly, there were multiple plots. We are first introduced to Jane in the present and we slowly get the story of how Lily goes missing. I think that would have been fine for the novel, but then all of sudden we were also getting the story about the Chester Museum creator and how his wife was having an affair with his friend. I felt like this fork in the plot served no purpose in the overall story. This was how Jane found out who N--- really was via Charlotte Chester's diaries, but the way it was written just made it seem pointless. Why did we need to know about that? What purpose did it solve to figuring out who N was? I felt like it was a pointless add-in that probably should have been removed. Oh and did you also forget that the spirits are narrating this book and they are trying to figure out who they once were? I think had we not had these spirits and the subplot of Charlotte & Norvil maybe I would have liked this book better. Also we never find out what happened to Lily! That made me so mad. I think she was possibly "the girl" spirit, but we still never get closure on that plot line and it made me so annoyed!
I felt like overall there were a lot of unnecessary add-ins to the book. There is a scene where Jane watches these little kids running in the market and I felt like the author fixated on this scene way too much when I felt like it wasn't necessary. I also didn't see what the purpose of Blake's character was, just to add a few sex scenes? I don't think the book needed that.
Another thing that just really put me off from reading this book was Jane herself. I understood that what happened when she was a teenager was pretty terrible and she struggled with it, but I felt like she was the most boring person in the world. She even mentions how she doesn't really have her own personality because she started playing the cello because of her musician father and she went into archives because of Lily's father William. I thought her dog Sam had more personality than she did. She just came off way too flat and two-dimensional so it was really hard for me to care about her story.
I will say that the writing style is really lovely and I think that alone could draw readers to the novel. Towards the end I did really enjoy solving the mystery of who N was, but I wished that excitement had come earlier in the novel. I didn't really start enjoying the book until I was 50 pages away from the end. I do really believe that mystery readers and readers of adult contemporary will like this novel, but it just wasn't for me.
*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
Happy Reads Everyone!