He steps back, steps back again. He can’t believe what I’m saying. Once, I might not have believed it, either. But the lie is the closest to the truth we’re going to get. We’re never going home. We Fall again and again, and every time it’s a little different, but it’s never right.
Grace is trapped in a loop that resets itself every five days. Despite her best efforts, she can’t find a way to escape the seemingly inevitable death of her boyfriend Ander at the hands of Finn.
Heaven knows she’s tried forty plus times now.
But landing in the latest loop, things feel different. Her twin brother Jem has returned, Ander has no memory of their previous Falls (he did in the first forty or so) and her family seems to be more functional. As Grace contemplates embracing the current Fall and staying in this set of events, she can’t shake off the feeling that there’s something she’s overlooking in trying to break the never-ending cycle of tragedy and death.
Romily Bernard’s Never Alone feels a bit like a lost cousin of Quantum Leap. But instead of leaping into various points in history to put things right, Grace is leaping into the same of events over and over again, trying to get things right. Told in alternating points in time before the first Fall and in the current Fall, we’re slowly given clues as to how the Falls began to occur and what Grace may need to do to break out of them.
Saying more than that will ruin some of the surprises that come in the second half of the novel. And those surprises are well earned by Bernard.
Conveying Grace’s anger, frustration and sense of futility at being caught in a seemingly never-ending loop, Never Alone is a taut, engaging thriller. Bernard lays the foundation for the twists and turns to come in the final pages and every revelation feels completely and authentically earned. The sense of dread and unease builds between the two time frames in the story, hooking this reader in and not letting go.
If you’re looking for an entertaining, well-executed thrill-ride with solid characters and an intriguing hook,Never Alone fits the bill perfectly.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.