It’s been a while since I got so engrossed in a book that I regressed to my six-year-old self, hiding a book and torch under my pillow to bring out once my parents had left the room. The Sudden Appearance of Hope brought that desperate need to keep reading out in me, leaving me slightly groggy the next day at work. Of course, now I often read on my tablet, and I set my own bedtime.
Hope is forgotten. People can see, hear and touch her, but take your eyes off her for a minute, and you’ll forget she ever existed. Her parents, her friends, everyone she’s ever met – no one remembers her. It’s a concept which is both intriguing and terrifying, and one that author Claire North uses to maximum effect. In a gorgeous mix of action and almost poetry, The Sudden Appearance of Hope follows Hope as she does what a woman who no one remembers would do: she becomes a thief. And a damn good one too.
North turns what could be crime fiction with an amusing gimmick into a dizzying foray into Hope’s mind, full of longing for real human relationships, fury at a world which can never remember her, and confusion at what right and wrong means when the person you steal from doesn’t know your face 60 seconds after you’ve stolen from them, or when a police inspector who has pursued you and who has studied your face and your mind for years has no idea who you are, or when the person you sleep with has no recollection of anything that happened while you were together. What do societal norms and human morals mean when there are no consequences?
Poetic and full of philosophical musings, The Sudden Appearance of Hope pits two ideological radicals against each other. On one hand is Perfection, a lifestyle app which helps people with money become “perfect”, and in the process, homogenises them and sets them above the rest of society. Perfection is owned by a man whose father ran fearmongering, highly influential newspapers (sound familiar?), and is the mutant child of capitalism and celebrity. On the other hand is someone known only as Byron, who will do anything to destroy Perfection.
Hope finds herself drawn into the fight, with ulterior motives of her own of course. She’s a wonderful, complex heroine, someone you can root for even if you don’t agree with everything she does.
The Sudden Appearance of Hope comes out in Australia 31 May – for more information go to the Hachette website.