2 of 5 stars
This eBook was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Everyone is constantly reminded to never judge a book by its cover. The book jacket designer of Steven Camden’s contemporary novel Tape has done an excellent job using colour and hand-rendered images to capture people’s attention; the story, however, remained rather dull in comparison.
The novel is split into two time periods, twenty years apart. In 2013, Ameliah is struggling to cope with the sudden loss of her mother, and shortly after her father, whilst she moves in with her Nan. In the spare bedroom lies a mammoth job of boxes to sort out containing all of her parents’ belongings. Ameliah first discovers an ancient boom box along with a large collection of music tapes. Amongst these is an unlabeled one, and when she plays it she can hear a young boy talking to her – he also says her mother’s name, “Eve”.
Twenty years earlier it is 1993 and thirteen-year-old Ryan is keeping a verbal diary as he records himself talking to his mother who has unfortunately passed away. His father has remarried and Ryan also has to struggle to live with stepbrother Nathan who seems to be determined to create a scene at every given opportunity. On a day out with his best friend Liam, he meets an Irish girl named Eve who he instantly falls in love with, but is devastated to learn that she will be returning home to Ireland soon.
It is clear from the beginning that Ryan and the voice on Ameliah’s tape are one and the same person; but the question is how are they connected? The connection is emphasized by the similarities in the lives of these two youngsters. Ryan meets a girl… Ameliah meets a boy… They both have to learn to deal with certain people being in their lives. For Ryan that is Nathan but for Ameliah that is a stranger who turns up one day claiming that he was a friend of her father.
After a while the storyline becomes predictable, and despite suspecting a plot twist, there is not one. The characters come across as a bit childish and annoying, which makes them difficult to relate to - although that may not be an issue with younger readers. Twelve and thirteen are far too young to be thinking about romantic relationships, especially for a boy in the early nineties: a flaw in the storyline.
Camden has done well to reduce the potential confusion of changing from one character and decade to another by using two different typefaces, so there is no issue there. But, overall it was rather disappointing. It was a great idea for a narrative with so much potential, however it fell flat and dreary through the writing.