How long is a piece of string? Or rather, how long is YOUR piece of string? The concept of this book is that everyone aged 22 and over receives a box, inside of which is a string. The length of the string corresponds to how many years each person has left. There is no explanation as to why this happens or where the boxes are from. People have to decide whether to open their boxes in the first place, whether to live differently according to their string length and if short- and long-stringers should be treated equally. The novel has been described as dystopian but I would describe it as a contemporary ethical drama with a romance element.
Full marks for a great concept which gets you thinking and addresses discrimination in society. The first few chapters were promising. Unfortunately I found everything else about this novel to be disappointing. A third of the way through, I was bored with it. The writing style is not distinctive and not at all gripping. It follows several people who are linked to each other in some way. I felt that the characters should have been in first person perspective to make us care about them more, as the third person narration had a disconnecting effect. I kept on reading in the hope of some revelation, but the plot just unravelled, like a fraying piece of string.
In summary, the ideas are great, the execution not so great.
Thank you to the publisher HarperCollins for the advance copy via NetGalley. The book will be published on 5th July.