Everyone Olivia has loved has left her. After an awful day at work, she hits rock bottom and finds herself drawn to a bottle of Valium. Her overdose should have been the end of her story but she is saved by a neighbour she has never met, Jude, named after the patron saint of lost causes. He’s good-looking and seems to care about her but Olivia senses there’s something not quite right about his story.
Olivia’s depression is depicted in a very realistic manner. There are no quick fixes and although she makes progress throughout the story, it is within the boundaries of what is believable. She doesn’t fall apart when she finds herself alone again and that is backed up by the fact that she has made friends and is on medication. Ultimately, she makes a decision to get back on her feet and carry on with life.
I’m afraid the character of Jude let the book down for me. He was an annoyingly perfect boyfriend and the reasons behind what he did never seem to be fully justified. I can’t quite believe that with everything he would have seen according to what his prior role was (trying to avoid spoilers here) that he would see Olivia committing suicide, fall for her and risk so much. The whole mythology was missing and I’m afraid it may be relying on some religious knowledge that I don’t possess.
The plot loses momentum about half way through, shortly after we find out the truth about Jude. The characters suddenly start having lengthy conversations going over what’s already happened. As the narrative is split between first person and third, this just isn’t necessary to understand what’s going on. The there’s also an introduction of a conflict in the final chapters that hadn’t had any time to be developed and felt really out of place, as if there was a need to stick some action in.
A really strong start, dealing with depression and suicide, let down by a muddled second half.
Emerald City is published by Sweetwater Books, an imprint of Cedar Fort, and will be available in hardback from 10th April 2012. Thanks go to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review via NetGalley. You can also read Alicia’s guest post on writing about depression here as part of her blog tour.
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