Afterwards, by Rosamund Lupton

Grace is in hospital following a fire at the school where her children are. While she is unconscious, she finds her "spirit" (for want of a better word) able to extract itself from her body and she can wander around the hospital, overhearing but not influencing other people. Her elder daughter, who is also unconscious, turns out to have the same ability, so they talk to each other and watch events unfold as the reason for the fire is investigated, and their prognoses become clear.

This was one that Amanda recommended, and I'd had it on order for a while at the library; in the meantime, I'd read Sister. I wasn't particularly knocked out by Sister, and thought this one was worse.

This is a "high-concept" novel which seems like it's got an interesting premise, but it's not original (very similar idea to The Lovely Bones) and suffers from the problem of the fact that the ghost can't do anything to influence events. In Lovely Bones, there's a cheat because the girl does manage to come back and influence things even though she was dead, and I suppose it's to this book's credit that it doesn't do that. But it does make Grace feel a bit pointless.

I suppose there's an attempt to make Grace different from an anonymous narrator by having her supposedly address all her thoughts to her husband (e.g. "I watch you move towards my bed and take my hand", "Do you remember how we used to...") but this felt clumsy and a bit confusing.

The main plot involved finding out who was responsible for the arson (we learn pretty early on that this is what it was) at the school, and there are plenty of false clues and suspects acting strangely before we find out who that is. But it wasn't that interesting a story.

To be honest, it felt like after she'd done the first book, she tried to think of another concept to hand a thriller on, and picked a potentially interesting, albeit not original one, but then couldn't really think of a good story to back it up with.

Completed : 16-Jan-2012 (audiobook)

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