PARIS ADRIFT by E. J. Swift
Verdict: Fantastically French, but I lost the plot.
Hallie defers her last year at uni to escaped to France, and now works in a bar in Paris. Portals begin opening up around her...and she experiences France's past and present...Mini adventures ensue.
Okay, that's a bad summary. It's hard to write an honest blurb about this book, because Hallie wasn't an active character. Things happened to her, and she dealt with them as best as possible, but she had no plans or hopes or goals or needs. It gave a sense that the story wasn't going anywhere, and often it didn't.
I'd call this a strange book, and one of the reasons is its unique writing style. It's sharp and direct, blunt in places, but somehow vague overall. It's never really clear what's going on - the bigger picture, the goal, the reasons behind the happenings, the motives - and I couldn't decide whether it was done in a mysterious way or a confusing way. Probably a mix of both.
Near the middle, things started to get political, and in the last 15%, we finally get introduced to the event which must be stopped. But after waiting for long for the point of the book, I wasn't very invested.
So I lost the plot, but I loved the context. There's a mix of English and French dialogue, and atmospheric descriptions of France through different eras. That's what made the book stand out from other time travelling stories, and what gave it an enjoyable edge.
Gabriela is also an interesting character. She fears she cannot leave Clichy, and it's not entirely clear what's holding her back: her psychological issues, or something spookier? She's intense at times, and felt very real to me. Millie is another interesting in her own right, and has her stories to tell. Hallie's family also felt like a good change from the usual 'sickly perfect' or 'orphan' cut outs that characters normally stem from. Those aside, I never really understood the other characters, and there were a lot of them. As I've said earlier, they didn't seem to want anything or it wasn't clear what they needed or why, so it was hard to get a good sense of them.
All in all, I enjoyed this book, but couldn't see how it was supposed to fit together and my interest waned. It's taught me how to swear in French, too.
Source: With thanks to the publishers via NetGalley.com.