I Hope You Get This Message

Sorry for being so quiet lately. I’ve had bit of a stressful couple of weeks and therefore put this blog on the back-burner while I focused on myself. However, I am feeling much better now so I’m going to spend the next few reviews catching you up on everything that I have been reading!

I Hope You Get This Message was written by Farah Naz Rishi and first published in 2019. It is a science fiction novel which focuses on how three teenagers spend their final week before the world ends. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Earth has intercepted a transmission from Alma – the only other inhabited planet in the Universe. Unfortunately, it is not good news. Alma created Earth with a purpose and are unhappy about how humans are treating the planet. A jury is currently in session to determine the fate of all human life. Depending on their verdict, a virus could be released in seven days that will wipe out all life on the planet.

Naturally, this news is taken in a variety of ways. While many believe the message to be a hoax, others take to the streets and begin looting. For Cate Collins, it could well be her last chance to learn the truth about her father. With only a few clues left by her schizophrenic mother to go by, she knows that it will be difficult but she has no choice but to try. She soon meets Adeem Kahn – a teenager in search of his estranged sister – and the two decide to help each other out on their quests.

In Roswell, Jesse Hewett has decided to take advantage of the desperation of others. Claiming to have invented a way to transmit messages to Alma, he becomes an overnight celebrity but also attracts the interest of some less-savoury individuals. It’s not long before Jesse, Cate and Adeem’s stories collide, but will the world end when they do?

I Hope You Get This Message is a very difficult novel to review, as I unfortunately enjoyed the ideas behind it more than I did their execution. The story was a rather unique portrayal of the end of world, as told through the eyes of three ordinary teenagers who were not in any position to stop it. It is very quick to set the scene, with is narrative broken by occasional transcripts of Alma’s deliberations. These maintain tension by serving as a reminder that all life could easily end within a week.

Yet, for a novel with such bleak subject matter, I Hope You Get This Message’s tone felt very muted. The story is surprisingly clean, neatly avoiding showing any of the violence that you might expect would follow such a proclamation. While the protagonists do occasionally stumble across the aftermath of riots, we never really experience this. While more could perhaps have done to underline the seriousness of the situation, this really was not the novel’s purpose. It really existed as a character study, showing the very different ways that three youths respond to the ultimatum.

The themes of I Hope You Get This Message are universal and easy for any reader to understand. It is a novel about the complexity of family relationships and the importance of forgiveness. It is a novel about how people need hope, even if it is false hope, to be able to keep on living. It’s also a novel that shows that humans are stronger when they are together – that it’s easier to fight hardships and change the world if you accept the help offered by those close to you. And that is beautiful.

However, I Hope You Get This Message is also incredibly slow-burning. Despite the tight time-frame, it did take a long time for the threads of the story to draw together. While I found the direction that the plot took to be a bit predictable, the three protagonists did not meet until the final thirty pages of the story. A lot of the time leading up to this was spent in conversation, particularly between Adeem and Cate as they travelled across the desert.

I was also left with some very mixed feelings towards the climax. Despite the emphasis of the time-frame, I Hope You Get This Message ended very abruptly with little by way of resolution. While I did like its open-endedness in a way, I also feel that the lack of answers may disappoint any readers who were hoping for some closure.

Yet, in terms of characterisation, I Hope You Get This Message was incredibly strong. Jesse, Adeem and Cate were wonderfully diverse and complex characters. Each of them spoke with remarkably different voices and were driven by different motivations. Jesse was a con-artist with animosity towards his deceased father due to the debt that he left behind. Cate was on a mission to find the father that she never knew, while struggling to manage her mother’s illness and complete her bucket list. Adeem had conflicted feelings about the sister who he felt abandoned him, yet still wanted to see her one last time before the end.

While all of these characters (particularly Jesse) could be sometimes be infuriating, this was only because it was so easy to empathise with their problems. While firm resolution was not to be found for any of them in this novel, I liked how it provided a snapshot of their lives and paved the way for future healing for each of them. Unless the world ended, of course, in which case this will not be the case at all.

Anyhow, apologies for the short review but I don’t really have much more to say about this one. All in all, I Hope You Get This Message was a little slow in places but presented a fascinating character study of three teenagers in a pretty horrible situation. While it had its problems, it was an interesting feel-good novel and is certainly one that I would recommend to fans of speculative fiction or anyone looking for a contemporary novel with a bit of a twist.

I Hope You Get This Message can be purchased as a Hard Back and Audio Book on Amazon.co.uk

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