Saturday, 3 December 2011

Dark Matter by Michelle Paver

Dark MatterSynopsis: Out of nowhere, for no reason, I was afraid. My skin prickled. My heart thudded in my throat. My body knew before I did that I was not alone...

London, 1937. Jack is poor, lonely and desperate to change his life, so when he's offered the chance to join an Arctic expedition, he jumps at it. Spirits are high as the ship leaves Norway and at last they reach the remote, uninhabited bay where they will camp for the next year.

But the Arctic summer is brief. As night returns to claim the land, Jack feels a creeping unease. One by one, his companions are forced to leave. Soon Jack will see the last of the sun, the sea will freeze and escape will be impossible.

And Jack is not alone. Something walks there in the dark...

My thoughts: Dark Matter is written in the form of main character, Jack's journal and follows his journey from the first moment he meets his expedition companions for a drink in London right through until just before he is rescued from the Arctic. After that point, Jack refuses to write in his journal but we get a narrative from inside his head instead, which brings more urgency in one of the more action filled parts of the story.

Over the course of his Arctic expedition Jack changes as a character. At the start of the novel, in London, he is a solitary person who is quite looking forward to the peace and stillness of the Arctic. But by the time he is truly alone in the Arctic wilderness he realises what it's like to have friends and he realises that he does need people after all.

I wasn't really sure about the 'ghost' that Jack was seeing. I couldn't work out if it was real or if it was his imagination playing tricks on him because he was alone in an endless night. But whatever it was, the author built up the tension really well and as I was reading I had a strong feeling that something bad was about to happen. It was the sort of feeling where I didn't want to turn the page because I was scared, but had to carry on because I was desperate to know what was coming next.

This is one of those books where although it seems like a straight-forward ghost story, there's definitely a psychological element too as Jack seems to slide into madness. A great book for anyone who enjoys a good scare now and then!

Received for review on behalf of WHSmith's

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