The Road to Zoe – Nick Alexander
She ran away from the truth, but she can’t run forever.
Seven years after his sister vanished without a trace, Jude is on the road, determined not to return home until he has found her. He wants to reunite his broken family, but more than this he wants to know why Zoe left – what happened when they were kids, on that terrible day when everything fell apart.
They’d been enjoying the funfair – grasping a rare moment of happiness following their parents’ divorce – when after a ride together, Zoe had stopped speaking to her mother’s new partner. Though Mandy believed he was the man she’d waited all her life for, her love for her daughter trumped even that, and soon suspicions of an unthinkable betrayal shattered the family.
So finding Zoe would just be the start. If Jude can find her, then what happens next will depend on the story she’s been carrying with her all these years. Because when families are destroyed by dark secrets, can the wounds ever truly heal?
(Synopsis from Goodreads)
I feel that I should start out this review by saying that Nick Alexander is one of my favourite authors. I have not read all of his books (although I plan to), but I have thoroughly enjoyed every one that I have read. There are a few things that he really excels at as an author: developing well-rounded characters with distinctive personalities, ensuring that each character has their own voice, and establishing storylines that will tear at your heartstrings. All of the books that I have read by him also have a strong family element.
While The Road to Zoe does has strong characters and an emotional plot, I must be honest and say that it is not my favourite book by the author that I have read thus far. Perhaps this opinion is purely down to high expectations; I have read his other works and know what he is capable of. By no means am I saying that The Road to Zoe is a bad book, in fact I thoroughly enjoyed it, it is just not the five star read that I have come to expect from Nick Alexander.
It is slightly unfair, but often readers form opinions on a novel based on how they start and how they end. The beginning of a novel needs to be captivating enough to make the reader want to continue with it, while the ending should leave a lasting impression. Unfortunately, I do not think The Road to Zoe has a strong beginning or end. However, the potential is there. Because I did not yet know the characters, I found the start of the novel to be slightly confusing. Quite a few people were mentioned in a number of pages, which was a bit difficult to wrap my head around. I found myself reading whole paragraphs a few times over to try to figure out who was being mentioned, which detracted from the reading experience. I think perhaps it would have been better to start this story with a brief flashback to one of the most crucial plot points: when Zoe goes missing. This is merely my opinion, and I must say that once I got past the initial confusion I was captivated by the plot.
I cannot imagine how difficult it is for an author to decide how to end a novel. There are many different ways to end a novel: with a cliffhanger, tying up loose ends, by revealing information that will shock the reader, or just finding a natural end for the character’s story, to name a few. The thing about The Road to Zoe is that it did have a powerful ending, but then the author added an epilogue. Epilogues are an interesting tool; sometimes they are brilliant, and sometimes they do more harm than good. In the case of The Road to Zoe, I believe that the epilogue was a mistake. The last part of the novel before the epilogue was emotionally powerful; it would have been a brilliant way to end this book. In fact, I think that if it had ended before the epilogue I would have given it this book four stars instead of three. Instead, the epilogue introduced a new character that I found unnecessary and provided superfluous information. If you read this book I urge you to try to resist the temptation to read the epilogue.
I feel that this review sounds a bit negative, so I should reiterate: The Road to Zoe is still a thoroughly enjoyable read. If you have enjoyed Nick Alexander’s other books then I think you will appreciate this book. Perhaps your opinion will differ from mine and you might even think it is one of his best books. That is okay. In fact, if you have read this book or any of his other work’s, I would love to discuss it with you in the comments below. The Road to Zoe still contains the classic Nick Alexander charm; it has strong characters and an emotional story line. It is brilliantly written of course, as all of his books are. Although I did not enjoy this book as much, I look forward to reading more books by the author in the future.
I would like to thank NetGalley and Amazon Publishing for providing me with an advance copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.
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