“When danger, passion and chance collide…”
So reads the strapline on this gripping novel from Nicola Morgan, and it sums up the book perfectly. The story of Jack, who lives his life by the flip of a coin, and Jess, who comes into his life, had me by the throat start to finish. Luckily I was actually being looked after following a night of illness so I had the perfect chance to sit and read without worrying about children or housework or anything else that would have so rudely taken me away from Jack and Jess’ story.
The pace is relentless, the main characters so perfectly drawn and the twists and turns of their lives so agonising that you can’t help but think “What if…” long after you’ve put the book down. It’s a Young Adult book, but really I think most adults would be equally as riveted by it, if not more so. Nicola makes you think about what the alternatives to your life could have been just by making one choice slightly differently, even the most seemingly trivial and irrelevant ones. I remember watching the film Sliding Doors eleven years ago with my new boyfriend, and I think that film had the same objective – what if one thing had happened differently, how would your life have gone? Wasted does this much more effectively and brutally and there are moments throughout that actually haunted me and replayed after I’d finished reading. As an adult reading this, I think Nicola’s writing had a much more poignant effect on me than if I’d read it as a young adult, ten years or more ago.
On a different note, Nicola also captures tiny details that really bring that atmosphere to life as well as the breakneck feeling you get when true love coincides with the end of your school life; it’s like one life ending as another begins and Nicola gets this so perfectly. I actually felt breathless at several points and very often was transported back to the start of my relationship with my now-husband which happened at the same point in my life. It’s really excellent writing.
Nicola has a non-fiction book coming out next June, called Write to be Published, and is running several workshops on this theme before then. I can’t recommend them highly enough, as this is so clearly someone who really knows what good writing is, and I’ll be doing my very hardest to get myself onto one! Check out Nicola’s blog or website for more details (this isn’t an official plug, I’m just genuinely that enthusiastic about this book!). Nicola’s blog, Help! I Need a Publisher! by the way, is one of my favourite blogs for writers. Unbeatable advice.