I reviewed The Dry by Jane Harper a while ago, and since I’d liked it, the publisher sent me an advance copy of Force of Nature too, which will be coming out soon.
The Dry was Harper’s debut novel, and it’s often the case with debuts that the author hasn’t quite found their voice yet, or finds it towards the end of the book. I liked The Dry, but it wasn’t one I recommended to anyone in 2017. It was a good solid novel, but nothing more than that.
Force of Nature, on the other hand, is a different story. It’s one of those books that truly defines the term ‘page-turner’.
I got into bed and opened it, thinking I’d read a few pages before dropping off to sleep… and then I could not put it down.
The story focuses on a group of people who go on one of those horribly awkward team-building trips for work. You know the ones: you’re forced to spend a weekend with your colleagues, doing things that come naturally to precisely none of you (except perhaps the overly enthusiastic douche who organised the thing in the first place).
This is a camping trip in the Australian mountains, and when they arrive at the initial site they’re split into two groups based on gender. They’re not supposed to have any contact with the other group throughout, but they end up meeting for drinks around a campfire the first night. There are specific trails to follow, and flags to pick up along the way to prove they’ve done so. They’ve been provided with a map and some orienteering training, so they should be able to find their way around.
But the women go off-track, and bad things start to happen. People get injured. Tempers are frayed. Supplies are running low.
Then one woman goes missing.
Alongside the stories of the women themselves, we see federal agents working with the police to try to find her. Alice, the missing woman, has been informing on her boss’ sketchy financial practices for the past few months, and now he’s returned to camp safe and sound, while she’s out there somewhere, dead or alive…
Could he have something to do with it? Or is the truth even stranger than that?
Harper has really got the knack of writing in such a way that the pages seem to turn themselves. I couldn’t seem to stop reading, even when I was so tired my eyes were closing, because I was so desperate to find out what happened. It’s a story that twists and turns and keeps you engaged, but none of the twists are so far-fetched as to be unbelievable.
I’d definitely recommend it if you like fast-paced thrillers, and from now on I’ll be keeping an eye out for more of Jane Harper’s books.
Force of Nature will be published by Little, Brown on 1st February 2018.
I received a free copy of an advance proof from the publisher in exchange for a review. In reality it’s difficult to tell if this affected my view of it, because arguably we’re all affected by every experience we have, but suffice it to say I’ve trashed review copies I haven’t liked in the past, so I doubt it makes enough of a difference to skew my viewpoint on it.