Review: HINDSIGHT by A.A. Bell

Hindsight (Mira Chambers #2)Mira Chambers has the ability to see the past. While more of a curse than a gift, this robs her of seeing the present day, which in part, resulted in her incapacitation at an asylum. Sprouting off the fantastical doesn’t generally warrant a rationale minded person’s sympathy or attention. However, in DIAMOND EYES, a couple of scientists saw potential as did the military and when Mira was analysed further, her worth was realised and life compromised.

HINDSIGHT picks up right where DIAMOND EYES left off, so reading the preceding book is a must to understand what’s going on in HINDSIGHT. It’s a vasty different novel from DIAMOND EYES in that Mira’s confidence is well on the way to being fully fledged (certainty in the later stages of HINDSIGHT) and the military component is paramount to the plot, characterisation of Mira, Ben, Gabby and Lockman (as the main characters), and accounts for the majority of the action. For Mira – being perceived as a military weapon is a change from being perceived as a crazy woman who needs to be constantly medicated.

I enjoyed the pairing of Mira and Lockman – he’s almost and anti-Ben type. Everything that Ben’s not yet all that Mira wants in a way. It’s their continued relationship which adds further drama to scenes where life and death plays are made on behalf of either character.

To define HINDSIGHT into a single genre is a difficult thing. While there are elements of the fantastical, thriller, crime, and romance the story itself doesn’t really conform to a single label. The varying degrees of fiction that comprise this tale ensure it maintains a freshness throughout despite some over-the-top and perhaps unnecessary dialogue from Mira (a minor gripe). I did find that HINDSIGHT took a little while to get moving – after 100 or so pages I was left scratching my head as to where author A.A. Bell was taking Mira and Ben – before long my question was answered and soon enough all core characters experience violence up close and personal.

Mira is a unique character and she continues to grow on me the more I read of her. In DIAMOND EYES we saw her as a hopelessly misunderstood young women begging for someone to believe her. In HINDSIGHT she’s grown in confidence, responsibility and has an inner strength akin to a Marine (a slight exaggeration but one that’s justified imo – read the book you’ll know what I mean). I look forward to reading more of her story in LEOPARD DREAMING, the next book in the series.

Links:

Review: Diamond Eyes by A.A. Bell

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 783 KB
  • Print Length: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Voyager (November 1, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0047O2JB8
  • Source: I bought it

Product Description (Amazon)

Mira Chambers has an unusual gift for solving mysteries … Blind, institutionalised and frustrated by her loss of independence, Mira has been driven to the brink of insanity by medications that make her life unbearable. When she astounds two medical scientists by ‘seeing’ the impossible, they begin an exploration of Mira’s strange perspectives. Together with Bennet Chiron, an enigmatic ex-con, Mira becomes entangled in a dangerous adventure of self-discovery that leads them to a killer — and exposed to a manipulative sociopath whose own unique talent is more than a match for Mira’s. Layers of secrets are about to be peeled away … and no one will be safe from what is revealed.

My take

I chose to read DIAMOND EYES because it is on the Best First Fiction Nominations list for the Ned Kelly Awards for 2011.

Despite the product description there is little that marks the early stages of the novel as crime fiction and I found it hard to place the novel. Perhaps futuristic fiction I thought. Although I did come to appreciate why it has been nominated for a Ned Kelly, but I am not convinced it should be there. There is evil, crime, and even murder, but for me the threads strayed more into science fiction.

There are just too many layers in this story for me. Mira’s affliction, Fragile X syndrome, allows/forces her to see events from the past  that have taken place in the rooms and settings she is in. The colours of her glasses determines what she sees. Sometimes what she sees are memories, while other visions are conjured up by her imagination.

She becomes part of an experiment to enable a comparison of delusions with reality and one of the assessors sees her as a “goldmine” whose case will attract funding to their project by drawing media attention to the medical misdiagnosis she has been subjected to over the last 10 years. In addition, many of the characters, even those in authority in the mental institution Mira is in, are “damaged goods” and some are just plain corrupt.

I think this is a book you will either relish or dislike. For me it was a very long read and not one that I particularly enjoyed. I felt the author had changed her mind several times in relation to what DIAMOND EYES was about.

My rating: 3.9

In 2008, DIAMOND EYES won Highly Commended in the Fellowship of Australian Writers Awards (for an Unpublished Manuscript). It was first published in Australia by Harper Voyager in 2010.