Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Review of The Reunion by Simone Van Der Vlugt

Two weeks ago I won a copy of The Reunion by Simone Van Der Vlugt from the British site This was a Dutch novel that was translated to English and it takes place in the Amsterdam area. The book arrived in Monday's mail and I finished it about 2 that morning. (What's that? No, I never go to bed before 1 or 2 or sometimes even 3. I get too caught up in a book or a blog or entering contests or something and time gets away from me.) The book is promoted as a 'thriller' but there was nothing thriller-like about it. It's just a mystery with a lot of emotional angst.

The book is about a young woman, Sabine, whose highschool classmate Isabel, disappeared 9 years ago while biking home from school. While Sabine was there when she disappeared, she has no memory of what happened that day. The basis of the story is how tramatic events can be repressed by the mind. After Sabine reads an announcement in the paper about a highschool reunion, bits and pieces of her memory start to come back. At the beginning of the book, she has just returned to work after being off a year and getting treatment for job burn out and depression. She's finding it very hard to concentrate on her job as she's constantly harrassed by a co-worker, she's drinking and eating too much, getting into bad relationships, and having bad dreams as her memories start to return. In other words, her life sucks. Occasionally there were words that were used differently than what I expected which threw me a little bit. This, for example, " two-room apartment is a tip. After the utilitarian neatness of the office, my scruffy furniture seems even more tightly crammed together." I'm not sure if tip means messy or small. The odd, unpronouceable names for streets are distracting, too, but I know they're necessary for the location.

As for the disappearance of Isabel, the author does do a good job keeping you guessing who was responsible. My guess as to who the villian was kept changing as I read the book clear up until the end so the book was good in that respect.

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