Book reviews / Science Fiction

Book review: The Night Shift

Oh books, they still exist.

It has not been the best year for reading, and definitely not a good end of the year. I think I have just been tired and busy. So I played Horizon Zero Dawn: Forbidden West instead of doing anything else.

Anyway, I feel like I must be emerging as I read this book over one weekend. It was…okay.

The Night Shift by Natalka Burian takes place in New York, where we find Jean Smith, setting out on a new nocturnal way of life (bartending and bakery) after abruptly leaving her 9-5. One of her colleagues shows her secret passages through New York, shortcuts to different parts of the city. Of course the rest of the book is unravelling the mysteries of the shortcuts but also her missing former employer.

When I say it’s fine, it means that it’s got an okay plot and characters but just. I find Jean a bit unbearable to be honest. Also the author uses the same phrases / types of phrases over and over again the it becomes very noticeable. Yes, Jean use to be a runner, and runners stretch and it feels nice. I don’t need to read a similar description of that umpteen times.

Yes, fine, Jean has had a traumatic childhood, but that also makes her a really annoying character. She’s so bristly and buttoned up. I realise part of that is to then have her open up more and more throughout the book. BUT SHE MENTIONS IT EVREY TIME IT HAPPENS. Basically, somethings are quite repetitive.

I think the story also just takes sooooo long to get going. Like half the book is pretty repetitive of:

  • go to work
  • feel bad about everything
  • say something that you didn’t want to say
  • feel tired
  • feel bad
  • have a flashback

It’s only when we get at least halfway through that the main part of the plot starts to emerge and it gets reasonably enjoyable. I think there needed to be a bit more balance to not make Jean so annoying and the build up so boring. And the big plot device feels reasonably joined up, though hilariously impossible. You really need go with the vibe rather than think about how the shortcuts work being even possible. I mean, Neverwhere feels similar but I always find that if you try to explain or have the weird mysterious thing being somehow linked to reality, it never fares really well.

Anyway, it’s an easy read, has a reasonable story, but can be a bit repetitive. Mileage will vary.

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