What’s it all about?:
On 24th November Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrived in Alaska.
Within hours they were driving alone across a frozen wilderness
Where nothing grows
Where no one lives
Where tears freeze
And night will last for another 54 days.
They are looking for Ruby’s father.
Travelling deeper into a silent land.
They still cannot find him.
And someone is watching them in the dark.
What did I think?:
I first came across Rosamund Lupton with her fantastic debut novel Sister which I read in my pre-blogging days and absolutely loved. I have her second novel, Afterwards on my Kindle to read at some point but now after reading The Quality Of Silence it has definitely edged its way further up the TBR list! It wasn’t a perfect read and I did have a couple of unsure moments which I’ll go into later but nonetheless it was a thoroughly entertaining read overall and after two books I know now that I really enjoy this authors writing.
Our main characters are Yasmin and her daughter Ruby who has been deaf since birth but has only recently been having problems with her disability at school i.e. making friends. She has a beautiful, close relationship with her father however who works as a wildlife photographer and film-maker and is currently involved in a project in Alaska. At the beginning of the book, Ruby and her mother are on their way to spend some time with him and Ruby is beyond excited as they are planning a blog together about the Alaskan wildlife. Unfortunately, when mother and daughter reach Alaska, there is devastating news. There has been an explosion in the village where her father was known to be staying and they have not found any survivors.
Yasmin, although initially grieved by the news becomes absolutely determined that her husband is not dead and decides not to tell Ruby anything at first. When she cannot convince the authorities to carry on searching for her husband, she decides to find some willing trucker to take Ruby and herself the hundreds of miles to the nearest town to where he was last known to be so she can search for him herself. Then, when their caring driver has a medical emergency, she decides to appropriate the monster truck for herself and drive down the treacherous Ice Road, her daughter in tow.
Sure, desperate times call for desperate measures, and the sceptical among us might wonder at a mother putting her daughter through such a dangerous journey with no experience of handling such a large truck under such hazardous conditions, but Yasmin is so certain that her husband is alive she feels she has no choice in the matter, especially as the relevant authorities are making no effort to search for him, believing him dead. The journey is fraught with tension and drama as Yasmin and Ruby struggle with the freezing temperatures and the mechanics of the huge truck and the story takes a turn to the dark side as they realise they may not be alone on the road. Ruby is receiving strange emails from an unknown sender with frankly, horrific images and then they notice a truck behind them, edging closer and closer yet the driver is somewhat reluctant to identify himself on the general radio. They are smack bang in the heart of the Alaskan wilderness with no means of help and all around them – nothing but silence.
There were so many great things about this novel that kept me turning the pages at an alarming rate. For me, the heart and soul of the story has to be the character of Ruby, who I instantly fell in love with. We get both her “voice,” and Yasmin’s in alternating perspectives and I felt so excited when it came round to her turn again. She is brave, funny and sensitive and definitely doesn’t let being deaf get in the way of what she wants to say! She prefers to use a laptop which converts her type into a “voice,” and this frustrates Yasmin, who really wants her to use her proper voice in conversation. I have to say, it did frustrate me at times that Yasmin was so insistent on this, but she goes through quite a journey emotionally speaking in the novel and by the end, you do feel that she understands her daughter a lot better.
Yasmin is a very interesting character, despite at times what I may have wondered about the practicalities of their journey I did love her determination and her assuredness that her husband was alive. It is true that you may have to suspend your disbelief at points in this story but if you can get over the few niggles that Yasmin’s decisions and inexperience provide, it is a really exciting narrative that only gets more thrilling with the appearance of the “mystery trucker.” Will Yasmin and Ruby make it to the end of their journey? You really can’t tell as the tension heightens, providing what was for me personally quite an exhilarating reading experience.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):