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The Sudden Appearance of Hope Hardcover – May 17, 2016
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"North has established a reputation for tense, dense, science fiction/fantasy-inflected thrillers that defy facile explanations... Simultaneously a tense conspiracy caper, a haunting meditation on loneliness and a brutally cynical examination of modern media... Well-paced, brilliant and balanced."―New York Times on The Sudden Appearance of Hope
"Beautifully written, with a protagonist who is both tragic and heroic, the novel is remarkably powerful and deeply memorable, the latest in a string of terrific books from this newly emerged star in the genre-blending universe."
―Booklist (starred review) on The Sudden Appearance of Hope
"[T]his is an inquiry into modern human existence. Philosophical questions are threaded through the electrifying plot. Even the protagonist's darkness alias is "why." Reminiscent of William Gibson's best work, North leads us into a brilliant world of elite but mindless humans, and shines a sharp light on what a rare gift it is to be able to think for oneself and what the consequences of it are."―RT Book Reviews on The Sudden Appearance of Hope
"The experience of sitting with it, sinking into it, aching along with Hope as her loneliness shapes and breaks her, was wonderful, painful and moving."
―NPR on The Sudden Appearance of Hope
"Startlingly original"―Independent (UK) on The Sudden Appearance of Hope
"North isn't here to lecture you or rehash tired debates. Instead, she's produced something that feels at the same time absent and necessary: Smart, compelling fiction about this future that asks us to outsource ever-larger chunks of our selves to the cloud."
―Tech Insider on The Sudden Appearance of Hope
"This is a book which is incredibly compelling, and incredibly heartbreaking at times. I could not put it down."
―The Forest of Books on The Sudden Appearance of Hope
"Seriously I cannot get over how amazingly good Claire North is. I could have read this book forever. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August was so smart, Touch is beyond genius. This will be one of THE books of 2015. Mark my words."―Bite the Book (Australia) on Touch
"Touch is a story within a story within a story and it's one of the cleverest, most compelling books I've read in a long time. The intoxicating voice, ingenious premise and intricate plot will have readers clamoring for a copy. Touch has bestseller written all over it and Claire North is one hell of a writer."―C. L. Taylor, author of The Accident on Touch
"I don't say this lightly but The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is one of the top ten books I've ever read."―James Dashner, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Maze Runner on The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
"An astonishing re-invention of the time travel narrative. Bold, magical and masterful."―M.R. Carey, on The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
"Wonderful novel...held together by a compelling mystery involving nothing less than the end of the world itself. Beautifully written and structured...a remarkable book."―Booklist (Starred Review) on The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
"A subtle study of friendship, love and the complexity of existence."―Eric Brown, Guardian on The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
About the Author
Claire North is a pseudonym for Catherine Webb, a Carnegie Medal-nominated author whose first book was written when she was just fourteen years old. She went on to write several other novels in various genres, before publishing her first major work as Claire North, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, in 2014. It was a critically acclaimed success, receiving rave reviews and an Audie nomination, and was included in the Washington Post's Best Books of the Year list. Her most recent novel, Touch, was also in the Washington Post's Best Books of the Year, in 2015.
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Top Customer Reviews
Hope Arden is forgettable. Literally. Sometime in high school and for reasons unknown, people stop remembering Hope. At first it's more like she slips their mind. Her dad forgets to pick her up from school but knows who she is when he sees her. Soon, however, her family and friends start forgetting her entirely. She could be standing right in front of her parents and saying that she is Hope, their daughter, and they would have zero clue as to who this strange girl is. For the rest of her life, she will only be "remembered" by other people while they are in her presence (with a couple of notable exceptions), with their eyes on her. About a minute after she leaves their sight, she is forgotten completely. She could walk right up to them again and the person would think they were meeting for the first time.
This presents some strange difficulties. How is a person supposed to hold a job if their boss and coworkers forget she exists once she leaves their sight? Inevitably, Hope becomes a criminal. Being forgettable is a plus when you are a thief! She cannot hide from cameras, however, and that's where the action kicks off...
Hope has become aware of an app called Perfection. She will see this app as both a nemesis and a savior at various parts of the story. Her search for Perfection (the app) and those responsible for it serve as a way to explore the larger theme of identity. Who are you if nobody can remember you?
It all sounds a little strange and it is...but it is amazing and worth it! Some things were left unclear and I am hoping that means Ms. North will be returning to this world soon!
Hope, our narrator in “The Sudden Appearance of Hope” by Claire North, immediately pulls us in with the way she speaks. From the description alone, we can understand that something is different about this girl, about how she chooses to exist. “No matter what I do, the words I say, the crimes I commit, you will never remember who I am. That makes my life difficult. It also makes me dangerous” (North). Hope immediately takes us on a journey into her crime filled life and into her desire to destroy Perfection.
Perfection is the lifestyle app that tells consumers how to dress, what procedures to get done, what foods to eat, what places to visit, what exercises to do, etc. Basically, people have become photocopies of each other in order to feel important and appear “perfect” to each other and themselves. This forced perfection, this type of brainwashing that has occurred within the general population, has become a deep hatred of Hope’s. With a death pushing her over the edge in her conquest of Perfection, Hope sets out on a mission to eliminate the program that has, in her opinion, taken away so much from humanity. Hope is surrounded by plastic people, by consumers who can never get enough from the app and the services it provides.
While Perfection seems to be an unrealistic thing, the reflection on what we consider to be the “real” world makes you think as you continue to read. Who’s to say this won’t be similar to something that happens down the line? With the constant pressure from the media to look a certain way, especially for girls, who says an app like this won’t be developed with equally as disastrous consequences? Hope’s story, although strange, can easily be seen as reminiscent to what we all already experience. Like Hope chooses, if you refrain from conforming to “perfection”, you’re forgettable, you’re disposable, you’re unimportant. But is being remembered worth sacrificing your sanity and understanding of existence?
Overall, “The Sudden Appearance of Hope” is a book that I highly recommend for readers. Personally, I’ve never explored this genre in depth before but this book captivated me from the very beginning. Trying to understand why Hope is the way she is and how she is able to live prevents you from putting the book down. With enough of a mixture of adventure, mystery, romance, and friendship, this novel is one that is destined to stick with you long after you finish it. North does an incredible job of creating a memorable character in our world even though she is forgotten in hers.
Avoiding spoilers, it's safe to disclose that Hope, who relates her tale in first person, suffers the curse / dubious superpower (depending on one's viewpoint -- more on that later) of being instantly forgotten once physically out of sight. Unable to function in the ordinary world without a personal reputation (which requires "memorability"), she is forced to make her way in life as a professional thief. Which, of course, leaves her uniquely qualified to deal with an entertainingly evil corporate enemy that seeks to turn everyone into vapid Hollywood-style "beautiful people."
By getting inside Hope's head, we get to experience the psychological effect her "condition" has, both on her and on those around her. Even the "bad guys" are complex, and they and Hope share a kind of mutual respect.
I've read of an ancient Greek thought experiment which argued that an "invisible man" would inevitably choose to be a sociopath, simply because the temptation to get away with anything would be too great. Claire North turns that notion on its head here, as Hope has been essentially forced into a life of crime because her "immemorable" status leaves her few other options. Some of my favorite bits of the book involve Hope's conversations with Byron, arguably a true sociopath, who is astounded to discover that Hope considers her condition a curse rather than a boon.
Anyway, great fun, as well as food for thought. I hope Ms. North will be resurrecting Hope in future adventures!
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