Title: Soul BeachSeries: Soul Beach #1Author: Kate HarrisonPublisher: IndigoPublication Date: 1 Sep 2011
Synopsis: From Amazon
When Alice Forster receives an email from her dead sister she assumes it must be a sick practical joke. Then an invitation arrives to the virtual world of Soul Beach, an idyllic online paradise of sun, sea and sand where Alice can finally talk to her sister again - and discover a new world of friendships, secrets and maybe even love . . . . But why is Soul Beach only inhabited by the young, the beautiful and the dead? Who really murdered Megan Forster? And could Alice be next? The first book in an intriguing and compelling trilogy centered around the mystery of Megan Forster's death.
This is one of those books that gripped me from the very first page. The prologue is tension filled yet beautifully descriptive in a chilling way, so much so that I compulsively turned the pages into the night not daring put it down afraid I would miss something of importance. Yes I know I could go back to the same page but when you have the movie version playing in your head you don't want to leave it for a single second.
Written in 1st person narrative from Alice's perspective; at 16, she is a well rounded character. Easy to imagine and develop in the story. Especially with the online presence and how it feels so 'normal', I would go so far as to say it provides an escape from some of the unpleasantness of 'real life' that I can certainly relate to. Alice has a fantastic narrative voice, the use of italics to emphasis certain words added to the effect of Alice's voice in my imagination. Her loyalty to her sister, Megan, is amazing to behold yet at the back of my mind I was constantly worrying about the effect the Beach was having on Alice in real life. Very British in the references used, including the portrayal of underage drinking (which we all know goes on) added to the realism of the story.
The portrayal of grief and how everyone copes differently with it was poignantly within the narrative.
I am not going to go into details about the plot in my review as it really would spoil it, I will say that it is a murder, mystery, supernatural thriller. Utterly amazing to say the least.
Alice's 'job' it appears is to find resolution for some of the souls trapped in the beach enabling them to move on. Even paradise can become a prison of sorts if it is repetitive especially for eternity. It would appear that the Beach is a kind of Purgatory for unresolved deaths of young adults.
All the characters have wonderfully hidden depths; I am literally aching to get answers out of them. I want to sit them in a chair and interrogate them individually (lol). Unfortunately, this isn't an option for Alice who has to tip-toe around the Beach's rules that are ambiguous to say the least.
I adored the snarky geek portrayal of Lewis and Danny brought to mind images of the Kennedy's. I can't really say why just that the way in which his 'life' was portrayed - privileged yet restricted due to the restraints that privilege brings. Whoever, at the back of my mind I was always questioning every single character for motive and opportunity with regard to Megan's murder. It was difficult to trust any of the characters at face value, unless they were souls on the beach (lol) but even they had secrets to be uncovered.
There is a major open ending that left me absolutely desperate for the next book in the trilogy. Silver lining at least I know there is going to be a second book. Torture having to wait an entire year for it. Seriously this book is fantastic and unique. I cannot wait for the next one *starts countdown*
Read the first chapter here