Author: Laura Tisdall
My rating: 4/5
I picked up Echoes by Laura Tisdall not long after a second play-through of Watch Dogs 2, and I was still in the mood for some hackery-pokery. They were promoting it on Amazon, so when I saw it, I was like, why not? Sounds like my kind of thing. And I’m actually really glad I did because it really did turn out to be my kind of thing.
I was hesitant at first because I am really not a fan of present tense stories. As soon as I read the first present tense verb, “hunches”, everything inside me sagged. I can’t put my finger on what it is with me and present tense narrative, but I just find it jarring. I find it just doesn’t flow in my head so well as past tense narratives. But I pressed on regardless, and I soon lost my gripes over present tense in favour of the POV character, Mallory. She is a fantastic representation of what I like in my POV characters. She’s not just a normal female teenager with faux flaws, she actually has real issues. She’s hypersensitive (like me!), especially to touch, and she doesn’t like anyone she doesn’t completely trust touching her (also like me!). She’s also from a genuinely broken family, the kind where the kids call their parents by their first names. But she’s also an incredible mathematical genius with an extraordinary talent for hacking, which is what she spends her evenings doing. I have to say that Mallory is one of the most engaging and well-developed POVs I’ve ever read. You get to witness all the inner conflicts that the world triggers in her, you really do see through her eyes, and that’s the difference between a main character and a POV character. The voice is strong with this one.
The story itself is also quite engaging. On first thoughts, the pace is perhaps a little slow for this kind of thriller plot, but on seconds thoughts, it makes perfect sense. Because you’re seeing the story through Mallory’s POV, you’ve also got to read through all her overthinking, which I totally get. The world goes much more slowly for me than it does for other people because I have to overthink everything before I do anything. Need to pop to the shop? Okay, I’ll just sit and overthink about that for a couple of hours and then go. Want to visit another country? Okay, I’ll overthink about that for a couple of years to make myself too anxious to actually go. For a highly sensitive overthinker like me and Mallory, life must be paced out to accommodate the workings of our minds, to allow us to manage the anxieties of everyday living. Throw a life-or-death situation into the mix, and the pace of the novel makes total sense. This is an author who genuinely understands her character, and can speak through her mind. It’s subtly and comprehensively immersive.
And who doesn’t like a good anti-hero story? Yes, hacking is bad – don’t do it, children – unless, of course, it’s done for the benefit of humanity. This is about people with extraordinary skills that allow them to do incredibly illegal things, but they use their powers for good. It’s a real endorsement of humanity and a person’s character to present a person with a choice, one option with a selfish benefit, one option with a selfless benefit, and for them to have the intelligence and integrity to understand the greater benefit of the selfless option. That’s what I got from this book. It’s a great story, but it’s a great message too.
So, why didn’t I give it five stars? I’m afraid I just couldn’t push it to five stars because the punctuation is ghastly. There are significantly more than the average face-slapping typos and inconsistencies that really make this feel unprofessionally published. And it’s extraordinary because in her acknowledgements, the author names no less than FOUR proofreaders. FOUR proofreaders, and the text is still riddled with horrors. Even on the same page, you’ve got the same thing spelt two different ways. As a professional copyeditor and proofreader myself, I’m just stunned that FOUR proofreaders couldn’t mop up all these problems between them.
Anyway, if you don’t mind typos and rereading sentences because of poor comma usage, I would definitely recommend Echoes for anyone who likes an anti-hero or an immersive POV and a great story to go along with them.