The Versions of Us
Author: Laura Barnett
Date Read: July 19th 2016
Rating: ★★✩✩✩ (sorry Laura Barnett!)
I was really prepared to enjoy this book: the story line seemed complex and the concept of a book capturing alternate universes in the characters’ lives instantly hooked me. I had already seen this concept created in a film – Sliding Doors, which after watching for the first time a few years ago, I had really enjoyed. Therefore I made the assumption that this book would easily become one of my favourites. Oh, how wrong I was! However I just really could not get into this book and I’m annoyed that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I was expecting. The reviews on the back read that it would be an emotional, gripping read but neither of these words are suitable – I didn’t have the urge to continue reading after each chapter , I had to force myself to actually finish the book.
The book started off really well: by showing three different versions of the first event which started off the individual stories, the ‘bike incident’. It was quite interesting to see Eva and Jim’s alternate perspective in each version. However in each version as the story progressed after the ‘bike incident’, it seemed that each version merged into similar plots but just with different people involved, which for me was a bit ‘samey’. Each version I think had far too many circumstances of falling in love with someone else, having children (with different names in each version!), having an affair, deaths etc. For me, it just seemed very repetitive and boring and sometimes hard to keep up with and the entanglement of each story was far too mundane and led me to forget what had happened previously when I wanted to continue reading.
Also, there were many characters involved in the novel that sometimes I’d forget who they were or why they were important (which is bad when you’re reading a book!). I found it really hard to get an understanding of Eva and/or Jim because there wasn’t enough focus on either of them. For example, when Jim leaves Helena in version 2, he is given no substantial motives for wanting to do this aside from the fact he wants to be with Eva – who he met once and supposedly fell in love with. In each version, the idea of Eva and Jim loving each other, whether secretly or not, was prominent and sometimes I was questioning why they actually did like/love each other! The characters were very two-dimensional, spurred on only by the prospect of ‘true love’, whatever that is!
After all, this is just my personal opinion and it could be that this style of writing just doesn’t appeal to me. Has anyone else read this? Did you enjoy it? I’d be very interested to hear what other people think of this book.