Before I begin, I want to point out that this is not my usual cup of tea. But I’ve mentioned before how I’m reading a lot of supernatural stuff (mainly vampires) and have been looking to ‘branch out’ into some new stuff.
What Happens To Us follows the story of Cat, a recovering alcoholic who goes on the run when a strange man breaks into her house. She desperately looks for somewhere safe, and in a bar meets Dante, a magician who takes her in. The two initially have a non-romantic relationship, where Dante just seems like a guy willing to help someone out and Cat seeming to use him. But when she spills her guts about what happens and they return to find Dante’s home on fire, the two flee together to New York.
The book wasn’t bad. It was gripping enough and it had enough intrigue to keep the plot moving forward. The characters are interesting in their own ways, but the story tends to jump a lot between different ones and at times it’s hard to tell who’s POV we’re in. (The book is third person, by the way, but a lot of the time we’re in the character’s minds, knowing their thoughts and feelings.)
The main problem with the characters is that everyone has issues. And I mean big issues. Not just “Oh, I’ve put on weight,” or “I feel horrible about myself.” Everyone has a deep, dark past (that they all happily reveal to the main character) and massive secrets. None of them are just, well, normal. Not saying the characters have to be happy or have had rosy childhoods, but not everyone is completely messed up in real life. These characters are, and it kind of detracts from the plot a bit as you’re trying to keep track of the horrendous childhoods or awful lives these people have lived.
The plot itself moves quite fast, and it’s hard to follow in places as it seems to randomly jump from one thing to another. There are points where it’s hard to tell who we’re following at particular points, and in some cases it’s difficult to pinpoint what’s exactly going on, or how much time has passed. The events could take place over a few months, but it’s mentioned in some places to be a couple of years and then, later on, the reference to the start of the book is “months before”. It’s a little distracting. Which is a shame, because with the pace was slowed down and the timeline kept consistent, it does have a good, interesting plot.
It works where it works, but unfortunately it doesn’t always work. The novel uses the NSA and what we’ve recently learnt about the true extent of what they do. And it feels like it’s been written since that reveal. It feels rushed. It’s a damn shame because there are some great ideas here; they’re just buried under the surface of not-quite-polished.
Still, if you’re into a little bit of thriller with some magic and a bit of spirituality thrown in, then check it out.