Tuesday 8 April 2008

Tabitha Suzuma’s “A Voice in the Distance”

Well, I think Aidan Chambers has finally been knocked off his spot. For the last six years, his Postcards from Noman’s Land has been my all-time favourite book. Admittedly, this was followed quite closely by Tabitha Suzuma’s A Note of Madness. But now A Voice in the Distance

seems to outshine them both.

A Voice in the Distance is the sequel to A Note of Madness, including the same characters and continuing the story of Flynn who keeps his Bipolar disorder at bay with two small pills a day… which seem to stop working early in this novel. He is a brilliant musician and is set for a glittering career as a concert pianist. He truly loves his Jennah, a childhood friend and now his lover, who is also a talented flautist and singer. He has the support of another good friend, Harry, also a student at the Royal College of Music.

Suzuma has written this so that you don’t need to have read A Note of Madness first to understand it. I am sure, however, that you wouldn’t quite have the same emotional engagement with the characters if you hadn’t read the first novel. You may not love them quite enough. Nevertheless, our closeness to both Flynn and Jennah is maintained through two very convincing first person narratives, where Suzuma has truly found the voice of her characters.

This is a Young Adult novel par excellence. The stakes are high for Flynn and Jennah. Although the novel is quite introspective, there are great highs and alarming lows and plenty of pace. We are totally captivated by the two main characters, who grow and change as they must in all Young Adult novels. The ending is ambiguous, leaving the reader to decide how life will pan out for the two main characters.

I’m normally a disciplined reader, keeping my distance and holding on to my objectivity, but I did stay up to finish this last night. I just had to find out what happened to these two charming young people whom I love dearly. But I’m not going to tell you and deprive you of the joy of finding out for yourselves.


Unknown said...

Great review, Gill - I'm definitely going to look out for it. Thanks for the heads up.

KooKay said...

Oh, I want to read both of these books now! Are there any 24 hour Waterstones, do you know? But seriously, as Nicky said, a great review, Gill.'

Gill James said...

Great to hear from you guys.Even this morning I thought to myself how I'm as emotionally invovled wiht F and J as if they were real people and close freidns at that. Now, if only I could write like that.
Well, there's the bench mark, I guess.

Melanie Electric Reads said...

I loved this book. I got so emotionally involved with the characters. I really liked the ambiguous ending, it's refreshing to read work by an author where you really don't know how it will end, which I find with many of Suzuma's books. Have you read many of her other novels?

Gill James said...

I've also read "A Note of Madness" - its prequel. I first came across her work because I was asked to review this book.