The premise of this book is very intriguing. And kinda creepy… the notion of seeing condolence notices on your Facebook page 18mths into the future. While we all remember Tom Sawyer getting to go to his own funeral, we don’t necessarily want to have to die to know that we are cherished and will be missed.
And though this book started a little slowly for me and I struggled a little (initially) with our lead character, I was sufficiently intrigued to read this in a night – keen to know if Facebook really did have it right. For a change! 😉
After I've Gone
by Linda Green
Published by Hachette Australia
on July 25th 2017
Source: Hachette Australia
Genres: Thriller / Suspense, Psychological Thriller
On a wet Monday in January, Jess Mount receives the devastating news that she hasn't got long left to live. She doesn't hear it from a doctor, though. She discovers it when her Facebook timeline skips forward eighteen months and friends and family start posting tributes to her, following her death in a terrible and mysterious accident.
At first, Jess thinks this must be a sick joke by a colleague jealous of her handsome new boyfriend. But as the posts continue and it becomes clear that no one else can see what she can, Jess is forced to confront that her impending death might be all too real . . .
Jess is a prickly character and it’s something in evidence as the novel opens as she confronts a groper on the train. I’m not one to support smelly public transport gropers, but she’s pretty rude and is just as nasty to a guy who compliments her on her effrontery after the incident.
So, our relationship didn’t get off on the best foot. As it happens though I hung in there, as did Lee – the guy who was impressed by her dealings with the groper – who ends up asking Jess out. (And I tried to remind myself she’s only 22 so still pretty young and allowed to be snarky and immature with a large chip on her shoulder and attitude to match. #hmmm)
It’s just after this event, when she’s travelling to her job as a cinema hostess with her bestie Sadie, that she starts to see sympathy notices on her Facebook page. They’re not visible on anyone else’s feeds AND when she tries to show her friend, they’ve gone.
So… already we know that Jess is kinda nutty (yes I’m being facetious) and perhaps seeing things or ‘projecting’ or something. And we learn she struggled after her mother’s death seven years earlier. Even now, both her father Joe and Sadie are solicitous in terms of Jess’s mental health, so there are warning bells.
Whether Jess is influenced by what she reads on Facebook makes this story kinda interesting for me. Before going out with Lee she’s reading posts from over a year in advance and so ‘knows’ that their relationship continues and grows. It’s almost as if she’s playing a role that’s been written for her and I wondered if things would have worked out the same way if she hadn’t known what she believed was going to happen.
Anyhoo, mysterious Facebook prophesies aside, the book very much centres around Jess as she becomes more involved with Lee and though he’s obviously smitten, the older suitor sets about changing the very things that drew him to her in the first place – much to the concern of Sadie. (And we readers who’ve been around the block a few times!)
As well as following Jess’s thoughts, we’re in the head of Lee’s mother Angela. It’s just been Angela and Lee since Lee was young and Angela’s relieved Lee’s father is out of their lives. We get the sense there was violence in their relationship and it’s concerning to we readers (who may or *may not* care about Jess), that Angela seems to watch her own son’s behaviour very closely.
I guess on a deeper level – if you’re keen on that sort of thing – this book could be about our ability to change fate. Even if fate is just a Facebook post.
Interestingly Green doesn’t really delve into the practicalities of Jess’s Facebook visions of the future and, though it could be a thread left hanging, it’s probably preferable than trying to explain it. As it was though, I perhaps thought the end of this novel was a little simplistic. (And for reasons unknown, even to me, ‘trite’.)
Another interesting feature of this book are the Facebook posts themselves which appear as if formatted (as a post or direct message) on Facebook. I’ve not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I never really visualise characters in books, so I was a little surprised by the avatars appearing next to the Facebook updates. (Joe looked almost sinister in the pics used!)
Like The Fairvale Ladies Book Club, this is another book which includes book club discussion topics at the end and should generate some interesting debate.
After I’ve Gone by Linda Green was published in Australia by Hachette and is now available.
I received a copy of this book from the publishers for review purposes.