Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Great Alone | Kristin Hannah's Tale of Alaska

I'm one of the many readers who discovered Kristin Hannah through The Nightingale, so when I saw that she was releasing a new novel, this time set in Alaska in the 1970s, I was excited to read another of her books and compare my feelings. I love how Hannah doesn't shy away from including darker plot points despite her main audience being women; it's a welcome change from the romance-saturated market.

The plot...
The Great Alone is the story of the Allbright family: Ernt, a recently returned Vietnam veteran who has a rocky transition back to civilian life, Cora, a woman who has let her love for her husband cloud her judgment, and Leni, a thirteen-year-old caught in the middle of her parents' tumultuous relationship. After being fired from yet another job, Ernt impulsively moves his family to Alaska, hoping for a final fresh start. When they arrive they find themselves unprepared for the winter hardships waiting for them and unable to completely escape the violent past they thought they left behind. The Great Alone is a tale of the strength of love and the power of community, and it pulls just as many emotional strings as The Nightingale.

What I liked...
Once the story is set up, it's hard to put down; I found myself picking it up every spare moment I got. Leni as the main character is easy to root for, and as the reader you can't help but be completely pulled into her view of the story's events. The conclusion is predictable, but I was surprised by many of the plot's twists and turns throughout the book and how far Hannah was willing to push the characters into their emotions.

What I didn't like...
I struggled to get through the first quarter of the book, as Hannah takes a long time to fully set up the story and introduce all of the characters. As with The Nightingale, the writing felt sophomoric and repetitive at times, this time when describing Leni's love life and her reaction to her parents' relationship. Also, most of the characters are one-dimensional, which didn't detract from the story but was nonetheless a little disappointing. With a little more editing, most of my complaints would be met.

Despite my misgivings at the start of the book, this quickly became a compulsive read for me, and I raced to finish it. Anyone who enjoyed The Nightingale is sure to love The Great Alone as well.

The Great Alone is out today! Get a copy here.

*I received a free copy of The Great Alone from St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review.

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