Title: Walking Barefoot
Author: Grace Coleman
Series: – –
Genre: Sci-Fi Dystopia
Available: 25th April
Set in a futuristic London in a world ravaged by war, Walking Barefoot explores the life of Will, past and present. The cocksure eighteen year old who, in a bid to find himself, goes travelling and the city-living adult, who despite his well paid job, upper quadrant apartment and sexy girlfriend, struggles to be happy. When nightmares begin to haunt his sleeping and waking life Will is unsure whether he is suffering from the illness that killed his father or being led by unseen forces to uncover a city-wide conspiracy. As his paranoia heightens he must ask himself – is he willing to lose himself to find the truth?
Source: ARC from the author via email
This really isn’t my usual type of read. The writing style is distant and very much tells you what’s going on as we watch Will go through life. It’s quite filmic in tone. Personally, I prefer to get inside characters’ heads, feeling and experiencing the story with them, rather than watching. Despite that, I found this a strangely compelling read that dragged me into the deepening mystery of Will’s life. I’m not a big fan of mysteries as the main plot of my reading, I don’t mind questions popping up as we go, but I like answers – and this book doesn’t really bother with them.
However, if you love a dystopian mystery where it is very hard to tell what’s really going on and how you should be feeling about anything, then give this a go. Especially if you like making up your own mind about what’s happening and why things are the way they are. Personally, I find that kind of stressful when I prefer to read to relax, but if you like to be challenged by books, this could well be for you.
[The rest of this review contains spoilers, so will continue below the cut.]
I don’t mind being challenged by a book, but I’m quite lazy as a reader and prefer an ending to be written by the author, not made up by me. Especially when there are just too many questions left unanswered in this, like: what did Will’s dad know? What was the travelling really about? What happened to Max? To Mia? Why did Will come home? When did he come home? Did he even go anywhere in the first place? What were KML doing? What was the dead guy all about? And the ending… WTF? Everything about the end of this book left me rubbing my head and wondering if I was just too plain tired for this or if it really was so sparse on details I was supposed to be left swearing at it.
I like details. I like complicated worlds and characters and am not adverse to riddles, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, but I need a key to unlock it all!
It’s not badly written, by the way, it’s just completely not what I would normally choose to read. I was also led to believe it was a New Adult book and it really isn’t. For most of the book we’re dealing with Will in his mid-thirties as his mental state and life starts to unravel. We do see flashes of him at eighteen, but the main focus is adult-Will and his quest for answers – and the mystery of whether he’s just having a breakdown, there is genuinely something amiss at his work or both and more. I have a few theories on these things, but the lack of concrete answers left me a little frustrated.
So if you like tales told to you that are full of mysteries and unsolved questions, that aren’t afraid to leave readers completely baffled as to what’s happening, has a dystopic, futuristic setting, a main character whose mind may be betraying him and will definitely require a lot of focus to pick up some of the more obscure clues, then give this a go. It might not have been quite my cup of tea, but it was still a compelling read.
ETA: I was given an advanced review copy of this book. According to the author some parts have since been changed to make things a little clearer in terms of the end. So hopefully you won’t be left quite as confused as I was. If that was all that was putting you off, wonder no longer and grab yourself a copy.
Walking Barefoot is out April 25th.
Visit Grace Coleman for more details.