The Sudden Appearance of Hope – Claire North

“They said, when they died, that all they could hear was the screaming.”

When Hope Arden was 16, she started to disappear. Not literally, but from people’s memories. It wasn’t long before she was being greeted as a new student in school every morning, but when her parents started redecorating her room she knew she had to leave. How can a person survive when no one remembers you from one moment to the next? Unable to take a job, she turns to theft – and with her unique skill she’s pretty good at it.

That’s already more than enough intrigue for any book, but Claire North isn’t done yet. No, she’s intent on asking: Do you have Perfection?

Perfection is an app. A lifestyle improvement program that is sadly not as far-fetched as you’d like it to be. From tracking your fitness and diet efforts, it starts to make suggestions on where to shop, get a haircut, who to date. It wants access to everything – and chillingly, that’s only one more permission than Facebook Messenger (have you looked at those? Really – do, and then delete in horror!) in real life. Following the ‘advice’ earns points. The more points you have, the more perfect you must be, right?

The two plot threads play off each other brilliantly, as Hope is ensnared in a global cat and mouse game over the goings on behind Perfection. What is it really doing to people, to society? Harmless search for happiness – or something more sinister? And either way, can it help Hope overcome her crippling ‘superpower’ curse?

I requested a copy of the text on something of an intrigued whim, and boy am I glad I did! The writing is compelling, each of the twin plots utterly fascinating. This is the kind of book that made me think – about the fallibility and tricks of memory, about happiness and the quest to be ‘better’, about how we define ourselves based on reactions from others, and how hard it is to be so isolated from the rest of the human race.

Recommended wholeheartedly, especially if you want something a bit different, and a lot thought-provoking!

NetGalley eArc: 480 pages / 106 chapters
First published: 2016
Series: none
Read from 3rd-10th May 2016

My rating: 9/10

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