Review: The Pause

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Declan seems to have it all: a family that loves him, friends he’s known for years, a beautiful girlfriend he would go to the ends of the earth for.

But there’s something in Declan’s past that just won’t go away, that pokes and scratches at his thoughts when he’s at his most vulnerable. Declan feels as if nothing will take away that pain that he has buried deep inside for so long. So he makes the only decision he thinks he has left: the decision to end it all.

Or does he? As the train approaches and Declan teeters at the edge of the platform, two versions of his life are revealed. In one, Declan watches as his body is destroyed and the lives of those who loved him unravel. In the other, Declan pauses before he jumps. And this makes all the difference.

One moment. One pause. One whole new life.

The Pause was a really interesting book to read, because it’s just so different from anything else you will every read. The book follows the story of Declan, who decides to take his own life after a traumatic experience as a child scars him forever. However, the interesting thing is that when the train approaches, we are taken into two different parallel universes. One universe is where Declan jumps and kills himself, but the other is where he pauses just before he jumps (hence, the title). Larkin explains it very nicely: “It’s said that when you’re dying, your life passes before your eyes. What you never hear is that when you commit suicide, the life you lost passes before your eyes.” So beautiful *wipes away tear*.

There are stories where chapters aren’t really needed. If you wanted to, you could just take out the chapters and put page breaks and it would still make sense. However. There are novels where the chapters contribute massively to the story. Like, massively. Guess which one The Pause is! Yeah. The second. Told in alternating chapters that leap from present to past, to different universes with seemingly no logic at all, The Pause is one hell of a weird book. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad though. Weird but good.

Although the story can be downright depressing at times, there is definitely a great uplifting underlying theme to it, when you look past all the suicide, depression, mental illnesses, etc, blah blah. I’ll get to it later (hehe, I love telling people something but never telling them it all).

Characters.

I think there were a lot of great characters in this book, but because the book is mostly centred on Declan, sometimes, these characters can be omitted a little. Declan and probably his mother were mostly the main characters, but many smaller characters were introduced throughout the book. This is one of the problems I had with this book (in fact, it might be the only problem I have with this book), that the characters were introduced, did their part, and then disappeared in the space of a chapter. Of course, this is understandable, seeing as each chapter is completely irrelevant to the chapter before and after it, but I found it a little annoying. I mean, don’t introduce a character only to have them never appear again *sobs uncontrollably*! But anyway, that was probably the major pet peeve. Moving on.

Plot

So I was looking back on the other reviews I had done, and I realised that even though I mention plot a lot, I never really explained what plot actually was, I just assumed that the reader knew what it represented. And I guess I shouldn’t assume incorrectly so I’ll explain what my definition of plot is. Google says that plot is “the main events of a play, novel, film, or similar work, devised and presented by the writer as an interrelated sequence” (yay, go Prof. Google!), but although I agree with this definition (yes, plot is definitely storyline), there’s also a different aspect to plot that Google hasn’t mentioned (tsk, tsk). Plot can also be defined as the motivation, or the reasons behind what the characters do. I also define plot as being what the character wants, what drives them.

So anyway, back to The Pause (hope you enjoyed that english lecture, courtesy of TGW Productions). It was a little hard to find, and it took a little bit of thinking, but I think I finally found the plot in The Pause. Why does Declan do what he does? Because he learns that life is precious, and life is worth living, therefore, you should just go where life takes you. What does he want? He wants a girl (duh, like character motivation for 70% of YA novels) and he wants happiness (duh, like character motivation for 80% of YA novels). So plot was okay, if a bit clichéd.

Conflict

The Pause had its fair share of conflict, considering it followed the life of a teenage boy (hmm, what happens during teenage years… everything stays nice and rosy right?) into his late 20s. There was definitely conflict between the characters (at least with the ones that lives more than a chapter) and, of course, conflict makes things interesting! So, yeah, just the “write” (HAHHAHAHAHHA OMG I’M SO FUNNY!!!!) amount of conflict, not too much but not too little.

Setting

There are so many settings in this book, I have lost count. Because of the train incident, falling in love, mothers who are better acquainted with Krakens than human, psycho hospitals, etc, etc, Declan seems to find himself 4583 miles/7375.63 kilometres/3982.52 nautical miles away from home very often. However, just because there are a lot of settings doesn’t detract from the story; in fact, if anything, it adds to the story. The setting is described beautifully wherever he goes to set up the scene, and this really does not make the many places he goes to confusing or tedious to read.

Theme

The theme of The Pause is really quite “fairytale” or “Disney” (excluding all the mature themes obviously), in the way that it’s pretty straightforward, it’s pretty simple, and it’s a happy theme that you can learn from. The theme from The Pause is… (dramatic drumroll as music crescendos to a screeching A note from the violins) that you should never give up on life.

In conclusion, The Pause is a beautiful, yet heartbreaking novel from John Larking, that will truly make you think about life, and the little moments that pass by.

Rating:  9/10

The Pause is out now. Buy at your local bookstore.

The Info:

  • Title: The Pause
  • Author: John Larkin
  • Paperback: 370 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Australia (April 1, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857981706
  • URL: Goodreads
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