REVIEW: On The Other Side - Carrie Hope Fletcher


3/5


I have so many thoughts on this book, so, so, so many. Oh my God. There'll be highs and lows in this review, so stick with me.

Let's just start this by me making my views on YouTuber book deals clear: just because someone is a YouTuber doesn't mean they can't write a book. But equally, it does mean their book is likely to get a lot of positive reviews from people who don't usually read and prefer the author to the content of the book. I think there's a bit of both going on in Carrie Hope Fletcher's On The Other Side.

The story is about a woman named Evie Snow and her ultimate true love Vincent Winters. When Evie dies at the age of 82, she has to reveal three secrets to make her soul lighter and pass through the door to her personal heaven. From this synopsis, it's clear that Carrie has a huuuge imagination and I, personally, absolutely loved the idea. There's nothing wrong with it being a bit cheesy, it's a romance!

In terms of the story itself, I felt that Evie, Vincent and Jim were all very likeable. Perhaps too likeable - I'd liked to have seen some more obvious flaws in their personalities, but it is a magical world after all! Without giving anything away, I felt so bad for Jim and kind of wish he'd gotten his own happier ending, in a mutual relationship. He was the little unwanted puppy that I wanted to adopt. The nice guy who never seemed to win.

The introduction of LGBT characters was nice to see, especially as it wasn't limited to "that one guy" but instead was broad and informative, with ranging sexuality and a realism in attitudes towards these characters. I wish that these had played a more significant role in the story because at times it felt like they were used as identifiers or only to create a balanced story, when they had the potential for so much more.

There are some technical issues with the book which I think could have been ironed out during the editing process. Concepts such as the lack of time frame which would have given the story a sense of context. I was distracted trying to figure out if Evie was supposed to have been brought up in the 1920s/30s or if the story was partly set in the future. There were also a few aspects which left me confused as to the setting. It felt like a London-based novel, especially considering Evie's commute to The Teller but the way Vincent's mum couldn't afford his education left me wondering if it was an American city. Words like "vomit" as well are commonly American and felt jarring against Evie's very British love for tea. These aspects - temporal and spatial awareness - are important in helping a reader settle into a story. Not having them there left me a bit unsure of everything. Like I didn't know where I was watching the story from. Plus, it's an easy thing to fix, which makes it all the more frustrating.

Onto the writing style - because Carrie's storytelling is completely unique - and in some ways I think it's brilliant, in others I'm not so sure. There's an old fashioned tone to the narrator's voice which brings a sense of fairytale worlds and magic. This suits the magical realism within the story and the 'ultimate romance' feel. So while the tone was unusual, I liked it. Again, though, there were some technical things which let it down slightly. On The Other Side is written in third person and at times feel like close-third person, but then it would awkwardly flick into the close-third person of another character in the room. Considering it is Evie's story, this was odd to read and it was like being pushed out of the story a little, because I was being pushed out of Evie's headspace. All in all, I think the narrator's voice lacked the consistency to make it entirely powerful. 

I would read another novel from Carrie Hope Fletcher because I think her ideas for stories are definitely worthy of being added to TBR lists. But, I'm really hoping that as she continues to write the technical aspects improve. There are things I've learnt from creative writing courses at university that I want to pass on because there are so many little techniques Carrie could use to give her stories that extra flair.

I know that On The Other Side has been gathering wide ranging opinions so I'd love to know what everyone else thinks. Let me know in the comments! In exciting news, it's about to come out in paperback and Waterstones are stocking copies with purple sprayed edges - how amazing is that?! I'd buy the book just because of how pretty it is... You can also grab a copy here.

Love, Jess

I received a copy from the  publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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