The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter | Rating: ★★★☆☆
As a note, a printed galley of this novel was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.
I’m very conflicted on how I want to approach my review of this little guy because frankly, I have good and bad news and opinions on it. I was intrigued based on the blurb the second I saw it. I was positive that I was going to love The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter; it was at the top of my most anticipated reads list and I just had this feeling of hope, adoration and excitement.
I know, I know. You shouldn’t get your hopes too high when it comes down to it. It’s almost always likely you’ll only get those hopes dashed. I really ought know better by now, but I simply do not learn.
My expectations were higher than high and I suppose that’s why it fell flat on me–I was expecting so much more from this story than it could offer; which is entirely my own fault. Because the truth is, it wasn’t all that bad of a novel–it was, I’ll say, quite good. It just left me feeling unfulfilled more than it left me feeling good.
Which, for other readers, may be a great thing. It just wasn’t what I was expecting.
My problem with The World Before Us was that it had so much promise to it but ultimately didn’t follow through. It kept tripping over itself at times while trying to balance everything out–the plots, the past, the present.
I felt it was lacking answers and in spite of its deliciously fun and vivid prose. It was missing that sparkle that makes up for any previous flaws. We know based on the summary that it promises to be mysterious and a little creepy in all the right ways. But I felt there was far too much going on, far too many questions and not enough answers.
All the themes of grief and memories are great, being haunted by the past, and the idea of spirits being attached to one being, and the idea of it all is incredible… it just doesn’t reach its full potential. It sounds better in theory than it did tied up as a story–I really enjoyed the idea that she was “collecting” ghosts and thought that it could have been better to weave the past, these spirits’ pasts, with present day.
It felt sloppy and confusing and perhaps this was how we were meant to feel. But it unsettled me. I didn’t enjoy it in the least–that feeling.
With The World Before Us, everything that could have taken it up a notch and resolved this and that was missing–which is what makes the story less than it should be. There was a lot about it that surprised me, such as our main character’s past: as a teenager, Jane was babysitting a little girl named Lily and the poor child ended up going missing.
She was never found. This, of course, left a scar on Jane’s mind and her heart. There are moments in life that define us–tragedies, in particular, and there’s no turning back. Lily’s disappearance was that moment for Jane.
Flash forward to Jane as an adult, we see her completing her final weeks at the museum she works in; which is closing rather soon. During a window of time, she is reunited with Lily’s father–whom she had a teenage crush on in the past–and is shocked to find he doesn’t even remember her at this point.
In spite of its faults, her reaction to this is undeniably real. While Hunter’s story doesn’t always flow properly, she has the hang of underlying emotions and the haunting of the past. Jane reacts just as you would expect her to and I liked that. I respected that. It made sense and perhaps was the most coherent reaction/answer to anything in the remaining story.
After being all shook up by this and her job, Jane quickly makes a dash for it and takes a leave with only the most important things in her life. She continues on her quest for information on the topic of Whitmore Hospital and Inglewood House; which has been haunting her since her first effort of research. What follows is a mix of interesting, terrifying and even a little lackluster.
It’s all very confusing and suspenseful. There’s a lot of history to be learned and discovered by Jane in regards to all of this. I won’t reveal much, as I don’t want to spoil it and you guys know me–I either give off too much information or too little–but I will say it’s relatively fascinating. This is a far cry from being my favorite novel, but the way things unfolded was interested.
The World Before Us is… very strange. It’s all over the place. It has the potential to be something more than it ends up being, therefore it’s a frustrating read. Even still, Aislinn Hunter does have a good prose–it’s tying things together and giving readers a resolution that is the problem.
As always, I recommend checking a book out on your own to form your opinions. While I am giving it a three-star rating, I’m unsure if I would recommend it to many people.