“Our Last Echoes” by Kate Alice Marshall
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Thriller, Mystery
Sophia’s first memory is of drowning. She remembers the darkness of the water and the briny taste as it fills her throat. She remembers the cold shock of going under. She remembers her mother pulling her to safety before disappearing forever. But Sophia has never been in the ocean. And her mother died years ago in a hospital. Or so she has been told her whole life.
A series of clues have led Sophia to the island of Bitter Rock, Alaska, where she talked her way into a summer internship at the Landon Avian Research Center, the same center her mother worked at right before she died. There, she meets the disarmingly clever Liam, whose own mother runs the LARC, as well as Abby, who’s following a mystery of her own: a series of unexplained disappearances. People have been vanishing from Bitter Rock for decades, leaving only their ghostly echoes behind. When it looks like their two mysteries might be one and the same, Sophia vows to dig up the truth, no matter how many lies she has to tell along the way. Even if it leads her to a truth she may not want to face.
Our Last Echoes is an eerie collection of found documents and written confessionals, in the style of Rules for Vanishing, with supernatural twists that keep you questioning what is true and what is an illusion.
Marshall makes a fantastic choice in going the found documents route for Our Last Echoes. It’s far too easy to fall into the trap of telling the reader how mysterious and weird things are on the island instead of showing them. By using video feed transcripts and interviews Marshall is able to fully paint a picture of the setting. The book engrosses the reader in this creepy & unsettling atmosphere. You can’t help but feel unsettled.
The actual mysteries were fascinating. I loved how all the strands that are placed throughout the book. Slowly the lacing begins and the reader can see how everything comes together. I didn’t want to walk away from the story at any point.
The character development could have been stronger. I didn’t feel like I knew Sophia, Liam, & Abby as well I could have. I understood their foolhardiness with plunging headfirst into terrible situations. They were a bit like pieces of a game being moved to progress the story forward.
The big ‘reveal’ was an interesting one. I liked the idea of it but was ultimately confused by a lot. It’s a bit chaotic. The use of doubles makes everything on the other side tricky to follow.
All in all, engaging story with a delicious atmosphere told in a unique format.