The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North

Rating 8.9/10
The Sudden Appearance of Hope is an excellent novel

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The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North is the third novel and fourth complete work by the author using this pen name (she also writes children’s fantasy as Catherine Webb and young adult fantasy as Kate Griffin). I have been an ardent supporter of her work, recommending it to everyone and anyone, and while her new novel is fantastic, I'm just not sure it's for everyone.

The Sudden Appearance of Hope follows a woman named Hope Arden, a woman who you forget moments after losing contact with her. It started in her teen years with her parents forgetting to set a place at the table for her, and it continues now with Hope able to steal a necklace from a person's neck without being remembered. Her story is a lonely one, but one that becomes more complicated when the psychological conditioning of a popular social media app called Perfection causes a friend to commit suicide. Hope dedicates herself to the destruction of perfection, and she will do whatever it takes to bring Perfection down.

Claire North stories have all shared a common theme - a story set in our world with a small supernatural twist that has large ramifications. Her three previous works told stories revolving around a form of immortality, people who think they’re the only one with a certain condition until they meet others just like them which rocks their world. The Sudden Appearance of Hope follows this formula, but to a much smaller extent, because this story is more a social commentary about some of society's biggest fears like mainstream media manipulation, brainwashing via social media, corporate entities taking control of scientific research for profitable purposes, and the anxiety about leaving a footprint on the earth that matters. It's great social commentary, but it comes at the expense of the more adventurous, mysterious and intriguing aspects that powered her previous works - don't go in expecting another First Fifteen Lives of Harry August.

Hope is an amazing character, a person who has endured so much but still endures. The story is told in a first person style that almost reads like a stream of conscious thought. She will be relating some part of the story which will remind her of a fact which will result in her providing a whole bunch of detail on that fact that jumped into her head, then she will recommence the story like nothing happened. It's hard to get your head around at first, but it adds more and more to the story as it progresses towards the conclusion. I'm surprised Hope has remained sane, or at least maintained a semblance of sanity. She is a fantastic character, joining Harry August, Kepler, and her Gamehouse protagonists as some of the best characters I've ever read about.

The Sudden Appearance of Hope is an excellent novel. It's not one that will entertain as much as her previous novels, but one that looks at complex themes with much more depth before providing a biased social commentary. For that reason I can't say that this book is for everyone, there is barely any escapism to be found here. This book will engage you with the prevalent social issues of today (mid-2016), making you pause and think about our pursuit of perfection as defined by Hollywood and the mainstream media.

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