I knew that Claire North’s new book, “The Sudden Appearance of Hope” was about a girl who everyone forgot. I was expecting this to be a story about a gradual disappearance, sort of like a Buffy episode where no one remembers the high school kid and she becomes actually invisible. Maybe there would be a cheery ending where Hope finds a way to remembered again and is happily reunited with friends and family.
No, this was not at all what North was interested in when writing this book. Hope’s disappearance happens quickly, almost as an aside; North is much more interested in what comes after you disappear. There are simple, practical, everyday problems – how do you make a living when you can’t hold down a job? How can you get medical care when doctors forget about you when they leave the room? Where do you live when your flatmates wouldn’t recognise you in the morning? And the deeper questions – who really are you, what makes you you, when no-one else remembers you long enough to have any kind of relationship?
North is also writing about our world and it’s obsession with beauty, celebrity and appearance. An app called Perfection is becoming more popular. Perfection tells users what to wear, what to eat, how to exercise, where to be seen. The more points you get, the bigger the reward. A new breed of Perfect people are emerging – and nturally everyone remembers them.
Hope becomes a thief – an ideal profession for someone who is always forgotten. Specifically, a jewel thief, travelling the world, stealing diamonds, and vanishing afterwards. She gets involved with the fight against Perfection after a girl commits suicide. The story travels the world, and North writes some wonderful descriptions of Dubai, Korea, America, and ending up here in Bonnie Scotland.
There are some beautifully-drawn characters along the way. Byron, who helps Hope steal Perfection, Luca Evard, Interpol’s finest, and Filipa, the unlikely creator of Perfection. And Hope herself, trying to decide what her life is worth, if she leaves no memories in any of those she meets, friends, even her own parents.
Another lovely book from Claire North, I have really enjoyed her previous novels such as the First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, and this one measures up. I see that North’s next book, The End of the Day is released this very month (also from Orbit) – I won’t miss it.