Cover Image: New Year

New Year

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Member Reviews

What a brilliant writer! I can’t fault it. The book zipped along with the kind of prose that is a joy to read. I wanted it to last longer.
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A big thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me this thought provoking novel for review. 

The novel is the perfect blend of literary fiction and a gripping mystery story. One cringes to use the cliches,“page turner”  and “unputdownable” but it is quite impossible to stop reading the book once you have started it. The reader is carried on by the suspense Zeh creates and is desperate to know how the story ends.

The characterisation is perfect. Henning is the father of two and seems to be happily married. There are the usual ups and downs of family life but nothing out of the ordinary. However, Henning is a bit of a mystery. Why does he feel so alienated and why have these constant panic attacks? He at Lanzarote around New Year for a holiday with his family; he decides to cycle up a steep mountain to Femés. He fights against the bitter cold and the steep incline and is almost delirious with exhaustion when he reaches the deserted town. The obstacles are not merely physical but psychological as well. But why does it all seem so familiar? Has he been here sometime before when he was a child? Are there some repressed memories which are waiting to escape?

The scene shifts to several years earlier when Henning, a child of four, and his younger sister, find themselves abandoned by the parents and completely alone with almost nothing to eat or drink. Zeh brilliantly captures the tense situation and especially the voice of the children as they battle to keep some vestige of normalcy under impossible circumstances. Once again Zeh raises a lot of questions the answers of which we are desperate to know. Why have the parents abandoned the children? When will they return? How will the children manage without their parents? Does this event which must have been very traumatic for the children, especially for Henning—who is older and is responsible for taking care of his sister—ruin his life and is it the main cause of his panic attacks? The description of the children who are forced to fend for themselves and their joy at hearing a car arrive is heart rending and deeply moving.

The story is narrated in such a vivid and compelling manner that the reader feels he is witnessing the events.

The novel is unusual but it is a tour de force and is highly recommended
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Lanzarote on New Year’s Day: Henning is cycling up the steep path to Femés. As he struggles against the wind and the gradient he takes stock of his life. He has a job, a wife, two children—yet hardly recognizes himself anymore. Panic attacks have been pouncing on him like demons. When he finally reaches the pass in utter exhaustion, a mysterious coincidence unveils a repressed yet vivid memory, plunging him back into childhood and the traumatic event that almost cost him and his sister their lives. In this masterful novel, bestselling author Juli Zeh skillfully turns a New Year’s Day bike ride into an unexpectedly dark, psychological family drama.
This book is perfection. 
I loved the emotions this book puts the reader through.
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This book was so suspenseful. I found myself unable to put it down as I had to know where it was going to lead. The depictions of anxiety and trauma were really well done and the exploration  of family relationships was engrossing. What began as a new years day bike ride developed into a psychological thriller and I loved it!
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An incredibly well-crafted book in which the atmosphere builds and builds until you almost cannot bear it anymore. I couldn’t put it down and finished it within a few hours. Masterful.
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