by Brenda Gan (13S03K)
This is the latest installment in our collaboration with MediaCorp’s ilovebooks.com. Brenda Gan takes a peek at the thriller, One Breath Away.
‘One Breath Away’ is a story based in a small fictional town, Broken Branch, in Iowa. An elementary school is taken hostage by an unknown armed man. No one knows which homeroom the gunman is in, whether he has accomplices and most importantly, why he has decided to terrorize the school. The people in town are struggling to found out the identity of the gunman and save their children at the same time. As the investigations deepen, more secrets of the mysterious gunman are revealed.
The book is written from the perspectives of multiple characters: Mrs Oliver, Meg Barrett, Will Thwaite and Augie. Mrs Oliver is an experienced third grade teacher at the elementary school. Regretfully, the gunman has entered her homeroom She is now met with troubling task of keeping the children calm and getting them out safely. Meg Barrett is a police officer whose daughter was supposed to be in school but had thankfully left a day earlier to spend time with her father. Augie is a thirteen year old who is very tough for her young age. She is willing to lay her life down anytime for her younger brother, PJ, who has been taken hostage. Will Thwaite is the grandfather of Augie and PJ father. He provides the point of view of a helpless man who can only worry for the safety of the trapped children: in other words, what most people would feel under these circumstances. The juxtaposition of these competing narratives keeps the story balanced.
Gudenkauf does a great job in weaving together the different perspectives. The points of view are clearly differentiated and the transition from one perspective to another is seamless. For me, it was an interesting reading experience as I could appreciate each character’s feelings and thoughts throughout the entire book.
However, I feel that the perspectives shift too frequently. For example, thousands of miles away, a mother gets a call saying that her child has been taken hostage by a lone gunman. Imagine the amount of tension and fear the mother would feel.
Having said that, the motive of the gunman is only revealed near the end of the book, thus keeping the suspense. The suspense in the story is truly intriguing. Through Gudenkauf’s expressive writing, I could feel how closely knitted the small town of Broken Branch was, as they helped each other save their loved ones in times of crisis.
‘One Breath Away’ clearly depicts how the normality of a day can easily disappear. It is, overall, a compelling read, filled with suspense and humanity for the emotional type. Even if you are not, it is still worth a read. As clichéd as it may sound, it reminds us to cherish those around you! your point about perspectives shifting too frequently?
The writer’s e-book was sponsored by Mediacorp Interactive. To purchase the e-book and read other reviews, please click here. As part of this collaboration, all RI staff and students are eligible for an exclusive 10% discount from December 10 to December 23. Simply key in the promo code (SGMMIR120252RIR) at the checkout by filling in the blank, and click APPLY.