If you’re not instantly captivated by that cover design then follow the old saying and don’t judge this book by its cover. If you are pulled in by the face staring out at you with scribbles everywhere then don’t worry—this book answers the cover’s promise. I’ve had Oblivion by Sasha Dawn on my bookshelf since about November, but kept putting it off for some reason. Maybe I subconsciously knew that this book was going to suck my soul out and obsess my mind with its mysteries. Maybe I just wanted light-hearted fluff during the school term and now that’s summer I can dig into the deeper stuff. Who knows?
Oblivion is the story of Calliope Knowles, a girl who suffers from graphomania after being found in a room surrounded with the phrase “I KILLED HIM.” This is all rather suspicious because her father disappeared around the same time another girl did, and Callie is the only person who knows anything. If only she could remember.
Callie lives with her foster family, the Hutches, and clings onto her new sister, Lindsey for support and normalcy as she continues to date the boy she met in County, figures out how to manage her writing compulsion, and navigates life near the one year anniversary of her biggest black out. Her mother, Serena, was committed a couple of years ago by her father after she stabbed him in the leg. Worried that she might be going crazy like her mother, struggling with new memories that are coming to the surface, and trying to figure out what her feelings are for Lindsey’s newest crush John, Callie has a lot to sift through and deal with.
Somehow this novel manages to juggle multiple plots without dropping any of them, weave minor subplots in such a way that they tie into the twists at the end, and not confuse the reader while doing all that. There’s the main plot of Callie trying to remember what happened on the night her father, Reverend Palmer Prescott, and Hannah disappeared. There’s a plot about Callie’s relationship with Elijah, the troubled boy she met in County. There’s a plot about the Lindsey/John/Callie relationship and trying to figure out how not to offend your sister when she’s claimed a man as her own. There’s a plot about Lindsey and her relationship with her parents and marijuana. There’s a plot about Callie’s mother and her insanity. There’s a plot about almost everything and it all ties together in the end with astonishing and awesome beauty.
The writing style does take a couple of chapters to get used to. Oblivion is told from the first person perspective of Callie and, as such, the reader suffers from graphomania as much as she does. When those intrusive thoughts enter the narrative and when random memories burst out of nowhere it startles the reader just as much as the character. In that sense, this novel succeeds at getting the reader in perspective and Callie makes an ideal protagonist to do that with. Since she can’t remember much, the reader learns information at the same pace she does.
Callie’s graphomania is almost a character in and of itself and it definitely feels like a compulsion, an actual disorder instead of some glorified writer’s podium. The other characters in the narrative all serve their purposes well and feel well-developed and avoid tropes. Lindsey, John, Elijah, Serena, Reverend Palmer, Mr. Hutch, Hannah, the unnamed man, and all of the supporting and super minor characters are all memorable and incite great reactions from the reader based on which part of the novel you’re reading.
The strongest and best aspect of this novel—and the one I’m going to be sleeping on for probably the next week—is the ending. Somehow Sasha Dawn takes all of these plots and subplots and foreshadowing and ties it all together at the end in a way that makes sense, is satisfying, and leaves the reader in shock and awe. I can’t say much beyond that because it’s twist after twist after twist and it works in a way that a M. Night Shymalan movie never does. Each twist is sicker and more gut-wrenching then the one before it.
If you’re in the mood for a happy novel then this isn’t it. This is a suspenseful, psychological thriller that will have you turning the pages in taut hope that there is some modicum of good feelings at the end. While I do promise there is an ending that will satisfy, it isn’t happy in the traditional sense of ever after. This book will be an obsession for however long it takes you to read it and then for a few days after. While this might not be a beach read, it’s definitely a book that I recommend picking up.
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