Melanie's Musings
October 17, 2012

Safekeeping by Karen Hesse

Safekeeping by Karen Hesse is a book I picked up completely on a whim. I’d read no reviews or heard any online buzz. I just read the summary and thought it sounded cool.

Radley just wants to get home to her parents in Vermont. While she was volunteering abroad, the American People’s Party took power; the new president was assassinated; and the government cracked down on citizens. Travel restrictions are worse than ever, and when her plane finally lands in New Hampshire, Radley’s parents aren’t there.

Exhausted; her phone dead; her credit cards worthless: Radley starts walking.

Illustrated with 50 of her own haunting and beautiful photographs, this is a vision of a future America that only Karen Hesse could write: real, gripping, and deeply personal.

With the popularity of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs last year, it’s no surprise that more books are coming out with complementary photographs, or whatever you want to call them.  That’s what had me most excited about Safekeeping.  I wanted to experience this growing trend.

Unfortunately, the photos didn’t have as big an impact on the story as I thought they would. The pictures remind readers of the rundown house Radley occupies, the chickens she gets, etc.  They did not, however, markedly enhance my experience of the story.

Speaking of the story, the second to last sentence in the summary is what the novel centers around.  Radley doesn’t really know what’s going on and thus the reader doesn’t either.  I wanted to know more about the American People’s Party, but there’s virtually no explanation.

Safekeeping ultimately feels anti-climatic.  It’s a wandering tale with a disjointed story.  Radley spends a lot of her time thinking and talking about the past.  While this adds layers to her character, it also keeps the story from moving forward.

If Safekeeping had been a novella, I think I could have enjoyed it and been able to dismiss the fact that it does not flesh out its world building.  Within a full-blown novel, though, I can’t forgive that.  Add that to the disappointing photos, and Safekeeping was not a win for me.

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Posted by Melanie at 9:34 am – Comments (5)

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