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Filled with tension
Well contructed scenes and characters
Long to climax
FOLLOW ANDRIA WILLIAMS
Published: January 12, 2016
Publisher: Random House
The Longest Night, debut novel of Andria Williams, was kindly provided for an honest review by NetGalley and its publisher Random House. Read the full disclaimer here.
Andria Williams’ debut novel is charged with tension from the very first page until the last. The Longest Night, mainly set in Idaho Falls in 1960s, tells the story from the point of view of both Nat and Paul as they navigate through their married life. Paul is in the military, and his current assignment is to work at the site of a nuclear reactor. Nat, originally from San Diego and a free spirit at heart, has to readjust to a new life in the small town, all the while not quite fitting into the expected military wife role. In the background we also dive into other character’s lives, such as the Sergeant Richards and his wife Jeannine, Esrom among other third type characters. The tension comes from everywhere, and Williams does a fantastic job at holding it all together without giving in, and letting the reader guess the end. The eminent explosion of the reactor Paul is sent to work on is constantly looming over the character’s lives, making the reader wonder if there will be a good end to all of this. Throughout the novel, there is a strong sense of time and place, which gives a real dimension to the story.
However, so much tension can also be exhausting. The novel is not always easy to read, with passages that stretch for long periods. In fact, the novel doesn’t really start to pick up until about 60% into the book. For those used to get to the climax of the story much sooner, this novel can prove to be challenging to read. The characters always seem to linger in certain situations, leaving the reader wondering whether or not some action will soon come along. I for one thought numerous times that the novel should have been renamed to “The Longest Story”, as it never seemed to want to end. Only my determination to get to the bottom of this story helped me get through the long beginning. That, and the fact that one has no clue as to the direction of the book, makes it quite a challenging read. However, the moment Paul is sent away from his family the story picks up pace, with more tension but also with more thrill filled in each page. The pages then just rolled under my fingers, my eyes hungry for more.
Ultimately, The Longest Night is a powerful debut novel, beautifully written and constantly moving forward – even if with some urgency. Even though I still think the beginning was too long, I must admit it was necessary to get the reader to the climax of the story, and to shape the whole “aha!” moment, when all is revealed, and the tensions are broken. Andria Williams crafted a well laid out novel, which doesn’t waste time on unnecessary scenes or unnecessary words. If one can bear long narratives, this is a novel to give a chance to. I promise, it will stir something within you.