Adrift by Lisa Brideau
Fiction | Mystery Thriller
Ess awakes on a sailboat in the Pacific Northwest with no memory of who she is or how she got there. A simple note hints at the danger from which she’s running — start over, don’t look back. But when other amnesiacs start popping up adrift in these waters, Ess isn’t so sure she can leave her past alone. Even if that means putting her life at risk…
The amnesia storyline within novels is a familiar one, and yet the premise for this debut book from Lisa Brideau hooked me instantly. I needed to know who or what Ess was running from!
As someone who has lived and frequently traveled the Pacific Northwest, the setting for this story was what immediately caught my attention. Brideau did an excellent job at making these locations come to life on the page and using the sailing element to do so felt unique. Ess relying on muscle memory to sail, along with the wildness of nature, and the extensive risks of sailing alone, all added heightened stakes to the story. While the first third of the book felt like a lot of sailing for this non-sailor, it was interesting nonetheless, and would probably be even more so for someone who is used to life on the water.
Set in the future, we also see a world impacted by increasing climate change. This sort of speculative environmental fiction was fascinating. I thought the amnesia refugees created a unique plot that will leave readers thinking about the long-term impact we’re leaving on the earth.
While I enjoyed the writing, the characters, and the premise — the pacing was slow and it took too long to get into the actual story. Based on the blurb, I was expecting a thriller, but I didn’t really get that. One of the individuals following her was really obvious and there were a few plot points that just seemed to fall apart. Perhaps, it was intentionally written this way for the sake of being realistic, however, it left me unsatisfied with the ending. From the start, we see that Ess is on the run from someone or something. While this was addressed to an extent, I found myself constantly waiting for a final encounter with the “real bad guys” that never occurred.
Overall, this was a good debut. I would recommend it for those who enjoy slower-building, character-driven fiction with unique premises and solid world-building.
Those who enjoy slow-burn fiction, environmental-based plots
This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Advance copy of the book provided courtesy of Sourcebooks. All opinions expressed are my own.
About the book:
(From the publisher): Ess wakes up alone on a sailboat in the remote Pacific Northwest with no memory of who she is or how she got there. She finds a note, but it’s more warning than comfort: Start over. Don’t make yourself known. Don’t look back.
Ess must have answers. She sails over a turbulent ocean to a town hundreds of miles away that, she hopes, might offer insight. The chilling clues she uncovers point to a desperate attempt at erasing her former life. But why? And someone is watching her…someone who knows she must never learn her truth.
In Ess’s world, the earth is precariously balanced at a climate tipping point, and she is perched at the edge of a choice: which life does she want? The one taken from her―and the dangerous secret that was buried―or the new one she can make for herself?
A galvanizing riddle that is just as unmooring as it seems, this sharp character-driven odyssey explores a future challenged by our quickly changing world and the choices we must make to save what matters most.