Review :: The Survivors :: Jane Harper

Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences.

The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home.

Kieran’s parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn.

When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away…

News of a new Jane Harper novel on the horizon is one of those things that gives me an actual literal little shiver of excitement. Then, right before I start reading, I have that tiny split second where I worry that it might not be good. Only pages in to her latest book – The Survivors, which is just out today – I knew I didn’t need to worry at all! I devoured this in a day and a half, and it only took me that long because I had to work!

There is just something magical about Harper’s writing that grabs me every time. I do think that so far I have found her writing of dry outback landscapes stronger than the coastal setting in this one, but only in the sense that I feel like her outback goes beyond the setting to be a character of its own. The town in The Survivors doesn’t quite go that far, although there were definitely places I felt like I could reach out and touch as I read – and I read this on my kindle, but seeing the cover gives me actual goosebumps. All of that said, I thought the town and its community felt very real and authentic. I fell easily into the world of the book, and loved meeting the cast of characters – which was big enough for the place to feel full, but there weren’t so many characters that it was hard to keep track (you know, I’m not sure if any of this makes sense, but generally if its hard to turn my book feelings into words for a review that is a very excellent sign, so make of that what you will). I loved the small town dynamic, and that there was also an element of ‘us and them’ from the residents talking about tourists.In any case, I definitely thought the coastal setting and town/community feel would adapt brilliantly to a tv series, so I was super excited to hear the rights have been sold.

I loved how the story unfolded in the present, but at the same time we piece together the past. The way the events from the past impact the lives of the characters now was really interesting, and there was something kind of gentle about how all of this was handled in the writing. Another thing I thought Harper did in a delicate sort of way was to look at parent/child relationships, like the contrast (and similarities) between the relationships Kieran has with this daughter and parents, and the way the latter is starting to shift to his parents becoming more dependent on him. Also the anguish we see from a number of parents who have lost or are missing children through out the story, and the way that they are all expressing it differently. It is obviously pretty heavy material, but looked at, I think, in a clever way which overall gave a balance of the sad and the hopeful.

In terms of the plot – this one kept me guessing all the way through. Something I really liked was that I felt like there was kind of a sense of humour to ‘whodunnit’ side of things. More than once I followed those red herrings somewhere a bit too obvious, and in one case a character actually says to another something along the lines of “wait, you don’t actually think that X do you?” AND I TOTALLY THOUGHT X. So I found that quite charming.

This was another absolute winner for me – lots of thumbs up and all the recommendations, especially to people who already know they love Harper’s writing – I hope it is a winner for you too!

xo Bron

The Survivors by Jane Harper.
Out now from Macmillan Australia
Source: Review e-copy sent to me by the team at PanMacmillan (thank you!) All views are my own.
Category: Australian contemporary thriller/suspense
Format: Paperback (384 pages)
RRP: $32.99

The Survivors on Goodreads.
Find Jane Harper online here.
My review of Jane Harper’s The Lost Man.

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