Genre: Thriller, Adult
Rating: 3 STARS
A high-stakes drama set against the harsh beauty of the Maine wilderness, charting the journey of four friends as they fight to survive the aftermath of a white water rafting accident, The River at Night is a nonstop and unforgettable thriller by a stunning new voice in fiction.
Winifred Allen needs a vacation.
Stifled by a soul-crushing job, devastated by the death of her beloved brother, and lonely after the end of a fifteen-year marriage, Wini is feeling vulnerable. So when her three best friends insist on a high-octane getaway for their annual girls’ trip, she signs on, despite her misgivings.
What starts out as an invigorating hiking and rafting excursion in the remote Allagash Wilderness soon becomes an all-too-real nightmare: A freak accident leaves the women stranded, separating them from their raft and everything they need to survive. When night descends, a fire on the mountainside lures them to a ramshackle camp that appears to be their lifeline. But as Wini and her friends grasp the true intent of their supposed saviors, long buried secrets emerge and lifelong allegiances are put to the test. To survive, Wini must reach beyond the world she knows to harness an inner strength she never knew she possessed.
With intimately observed characters, visceral prose, and pacing as ruthless as the river itself, The River at Night is a dark exploration of creatures—both friend and foe—that you won’t soon forget.
“Early one morning in late March, Pia forced my hand.”
This book reminded me of two things: why I will never ever, ever go into the wilderness no matter what and why I will never ever, ever trust a young twenty-something to lead me into the forest and save my life. But, seriously, I pre-ordered this book on a lot of great reviews, and I was super excited to read it! Apparently, this has a lot of similarities to something called Deliverance, which I have literally never heard of, so, thankfully, I went into this book knowing absolutely nothing.
I thought the characters in this book were a huge plus for me! I’m going to blame my thriller obsession with the fact that I love twisted relationships and friendships between people in general, and the four main characters are all so different and have their own baggage going into the trip that definitely makes for an interesting addition to the plot. Of course, like in most thrillers, we have Wini, the more quiet, shy main character who we’re pushed to root for, and then there’s Pia, that annoying friend who thinks she’s all that and she deserves everything she can get her hands on until someone puts her in her place. Of course, she drove me crazy, and even though the novel made the effort to make me like her more, I just couldn’t get past my initial feelings for her. We also have Rachel and Sandra, who I didn’t think were developed enough as individuals since the main focus is Pia and Wini, but I did think they were an interesting touch into the friendship.
I think one of my favorite things about the characters is the fact that they’re like real people. We’ve all read our share of survival stories before, and most of the time, we jokingly say that if we were in that situation, we would probably be dead, which is not only most likely true, but also shows that, sometimes, main characters make smarter and more logical decisions than most people would in their situations. The four main characters aren’t super athletic or super smart or don’t break out in, “Okay, this is what we’re going to do because one time I was caught in this situation/I read it on the Internet/I’ve been training for this my whole life.” They felt the same way I did and I felt like they made the same decisions I would, especially garnering the realistic ending, which I can’t talk about because SPOILERS.
My main dislike: the pacing. Why, oh why, are my thrillers either extremely gripping or books that I pick up on-and-off because they’re just so slow? I think the main issue was the fact that the synopsis reveals a bit too much, if that makes sense? Like, we’re all well aware the four women are going to get stranded, so the 10+ chapters leading up to that event were basically boring exposition where I was basically screaming in my head, “GET TO THE POINT ALREADY!” I also felt like it was slightly misleading? Maybe because the synopsis made this huge show of talking about being this “dark exploration of creatures,” and I didn’t feel like it did that? To me, that made it seems like they tried to make it sound more Hunger Games-y, but maybe that’s just me.
Overall, this was a pretty interesting survival thriller, and if you want to check it out, I feel like you should, but it still ended up being a meh read for me.
Have you read this book? What did you think about it? Are you interested in reading it?