Wednesday, 1 June 2016

The Key to It All - Joanna Rees

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An intriguing plot that falls a bit short.

I have come across some of Rees' previous novels and therefore her name was not a new one. But now that she has branched out on her own, this novel with its intriguing premise and the arresting jacket were an irrestible combination.

A quick search took me to her blog. She is good and I remember she used to collaborate with her husband before and produced a sizeable number of books. Somehow, I never got the chance to read them, but it was enough to build that familiarity that I like to have, with the author before delving into their book.

Since the outline is my kind of story, I was keen to dig my heels into this one and find out if it delivered the goods.


Five people get a key that promises to change their lives forever. It is filled with opportunity and luxury. So what happens when they go for it? Do they get what they want or does the key bring out their darkest secrets forcing them out their comfort zones, bringing them face to face to confront horrible truths?

What works:
  • The plot. The premise is interesting enough to demand attention and the characters are settled in such exotic locations - Brazil and Japan. The armchair traveller in me was super excited and really enjoyed the ride.
  • The narrative. It flows smoothly and engages the reader well. After a point, it felt like being on a roller coaster ride. The story got so good, that it was hard not to keep turning pages to work out the possible connection.
  • The build up was good and the suspense even better. It shows the author's knack of taking separate threads of narrative and blending them into one with a good suspense. Wow, that bit was really good and a nod to the author's talent.
What doesn't:
  • The story is a bit slow to get into. The initial bit where the characters are first introduced is a bit slow. I get it, it is important to know them first to find out what happens to them, but even so, it was boring. 
  • There were some bits which were quite thrilling like for the instance when Africa-working Christian ends up in South America and meets Julia. I also liked the part when Kamiko is on a chase to locate the source. Some parts are really interesting to read, but there are also moments where it drags a bit. The thrill factor is not consistent.
  • Also it is easy to see what Rees is trying to do - how the key can change people and affect their personas. But some parts seemed a bit abrupt and implausible. The explanations did not quite justify to this reader.
Overall, this reminded of one Jeffrey's archers better paced earlier novels. This one has its drawbacks and lacks the finesse of the master storyteller in his heyday but nonetheless, a good plot which is worth the time spent.


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