Thursday, 7 July 2016

Swimming to your Death - Daylight Saving by Edward Hogan

"On the day we arrived, I thought I saved her life." - Edward Hogan, Daylight Saving, page one

I can't quite remember when I picked this up. I think it was before Christmas.


But I do remember the reason. It was short, and I had a buy one get one half price offer to complete. By the time I got it home, I was doubting that it would be any good. Shame on me, because this was a solid book.

It's narrated by Daniel, a slightly overweight teenage boy whose parents are getting divorced. His father takes him to leisure World (think Butlins, or Centreparks...I'm assuming, but I've never actually been to either of them) and, there, he meets Lexi, a mysterious swimmer whose watch ticks backwards. Unlike the relationships between most male and female characters in fiction, the relationship between Daniel and Lexi focuses very much on the dynamic between the genders. Lexi's mysterious past has left her distrusting of men, and Daniel, whilst not a horrible person, is a kid of about fourteen and, in a rare break from YA tradition, acts like it. Hogan uses the dynamic between them to teach readers about consent, which becomes plot relevant at the end. If somebody doesn't want you to save them, is it right to just walk away and let them suffer?

This is very much a mystery novel, with Lexi's past and future being revealed in fragments throughout. The pacing is brilliant. The plot hinges on daylight saving time. For anyone who doesn't live in a country with DST, it's basically just when we in Britain (and others, mainly across Europe and North America) put the clocks back on the last Sunday in October. Technically, this means that one hour happens twice. We turn back time.

I enjoyed this story. The concept was clever, and it asked a lot of difficult questions. At times though, I did get a little bored. Daylight Saving only has one character who goes through any real development, probably because it's a short, plot-driven novel. I like stories with big casts of interesting characters because they mix things up a bit. This story did not lose stars because of bad plotting, or terrible characterisation. It lost stars because the supporting cast were not strong enough. 

So, what do you think, if somebody doesn't want you to save them, should you respect their decision?