Book Review: Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl

I read this book hoping it would help with the book hangover caused by Turtles All the Way Down, and instead it exacerbated it. Let’s dive right into this Neverworld Wake review!

Neverworld Wake follows a group of high school friends as they relive the day that they died over and over. That is, until they can choose which of them will have survived the car crash.

For the first time since high school, Beatrice Hartley is back with her friends. You see, her boyfriend, Jim, died and the friend group became too stressful for Beatrice, so she shut down and shut them out. But she decides on a whim to go out with them one night, and while they’re driving back, they collide head on with a truck.

Groundhog Day style, they wake up as they’re getting back out of the car. Everyone is a little shook, but they can’t believe the Keeper, a mysterious old man who tells them that they’re dead. But he keeps showing up, and their day keeps looping. So they listen to him, and he explains that they’re in limbo until they vote for one of them to survive the crash. Until then, they’re in the neverworld state.

Everyone deals with it differently. One commits suicide, only to come back the next day. One uses her time to learn every day, while others cause pure chaos. Beatrice just tries to keep everyone together.

Eventually, they realize that they could use this time to figure out how Jim was killed because there’s no way he killed himself. They become sleuths, trying to figure out everything they can with their limited time loop. It’s wild to read the ways they work through things, trying to figure out what happened to Jim.

This book took the time loop trope to a whole new level for me.

I was blown away by everything the characters were doing, and how they knew just what to do to mess with people. It was so interesting to see the different chaos they created, and how they made it so specific. It was also rad to read the coping with the different stages of grief in mind. I’ve seen Groundhog Day, and read a couple time loop books, but they never hit the way that Neverworld Wake did for me.

Neverworld Wake is incredible. It’s a wild, time looping mystery, and it has a beyond satisfying ending. I highly recommend grabbing a copy and reading it on a cozy day. You won’t be able to put it down; I definitely couldn’t.

You can check out my full February TBR, and listen to Pessl’s playlist for Neverworld Wake.

Do you have any time-related books to recommend?

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