Title: Call Me Evie
Author: J.P. Pomare
Published: December 27th 2018
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Thriller, Suspense
Rating: 4 stars
DON’T TRUST HIM. IT WASN’T ME. IT COULDN’T HAVE BEEN ME.
Meet Evie, a young woman held captive by a man named Jim in the isolated New Zealand beach town of Maketu. Jim says he’s hiding Evie to protect her, that she did something terrible back home in Melbourne.
In a house that creaks against the wind, Evie begins to piece together her fractured memories of the events that led her here.
Jim says he’s keeping her safe. Evie’s not sure she can trust Jim, but can she trust her own memories?
An incredible literary thriller for readers of bestsellers such as Gone Girl, Before I Go to Sleep and Girl on the Train from an exciting new Australian voice.
Imagine that you are trapped, drugged and held captive in a remote coastal cabin in New Zealand. For Evie, previously known as Kate, life is one confusing mess. She has fragments of memories linking to a crime she may have committed, or been closely involved in back home in Melbourne. Call Me Evie is a brand new psychological thriller from debut novelist J.P. Pomare. It is one of this summer’s blockbuster releases from an exciting new voice.
Trust and memory plays a big role in Call Me Evie, a 2018 publication from Hachette Australia. It begins with Evie, a seventeen year old girl, who is being held captive by a man known to her as ‘Jim’. Far away from her home in Melbourne, Evie is placed under the close watch of Jim, based in a cabin in remote Maketu, in New Zealand. Evie has been drugged and told by Jim that she has been placed in a remote cabin to keep her safe from an awful event that recently occurred back in Australia. Slowly, Evie unravels what happened back home in Melbourne. As Evie’s memories, dreams and nightmares all converge, she becomes unsure of who to trust, including herself.
If you like the whole concept of an unreliable narrator, this is one novel that utilises this narrative tool extremely well. Call Me Evie is deeply rooted in the unreliable narrator concept, as the lead, Evie (also known as Kate) grapples with her own fractured memories. I really enjoyed putting the pieces together of this perplexing narrative puzzle. At first, I felt incredibly unsure and out of place while trying to properly situate myself in this narrative mystery. However, as I persisted and picked up the breadcrumbs left by the author, the process was well worth the energy I invested.
Call Me Evie is a moody thriller that situates itself well in the main setting, which is based in the remote area of Maketu in New Zealand. The landscape and setting adds to the atmosphere, exacerbating Evie’s predicament. The scenery delivered a mixture of pristine beauty, isolation and danger. I think Pomare used this to his advantage, heightening the mood of the novel significantly.
Call Me Evie is structured in a format that really pulls the reader in the story. Divided between ‘before’ and ‘after’, Pomare switches between these two points of action. I found it much easier keep a handle on the events in the ‘before’, which illuminates Evie/Kate’s life as a Melbourne school girl in the time leading up to the crime aspect of the novel. This section of the novel also provides an insight into the state of affairs surrounding Evie/Kate’s family history, her love life and school life. These aspects all provide clues as to Kate’s situation in the present. Call Me Evie is punctuated by an extremely compelling first person style of narration, from the lead Evie/Kate. In the ‘after’ sections the narration is confounding. Plenty of twists, red herrings, dubious characters and ‘what ifs’ are raised. Pomare’s approach in this area is perhaps intentional, he has us in his full control and we are a prisoner of sorts to his narrative direction.
Pomare’s use of character is effective. Through Kate/Evie’s first person style of narration, we get to know her very well. My sympathies quickly settled on her, especially in the harrowing opening scenes where her hair is being lopped off and she longs to escape. The side characters are shadowy figures, often kept at arm’s length. I had a hard time figuring out their motivations, movements and secrets. Again, I feel this was entirely intentional on Pomare’s behalf, he wants us to feel this way about his characters.
The crime and mystery aspect of the novel is what keeps the momentum churning over. I appreciated this aspect of the story very much. It was clever, compelling and perplexing. The use of the before and after aspects to reach the final conclusion was a good move by Pomare. I also appreciated the themes raised in Call Me Evie, from the influence of social media, gossip, trust, love, sacrifice, betrayal, forgiveness, protection and mental health. These are heavy issues, touched on with forethought by J.P. Pomare. With these themes in mind, Call Me Evie races to a surprising conclusion, that leaves us guessing until the bitter end.
I expect Call Me Evie to feature heavily on bestselling lists over the new year. J.P. Pomare has penned a debut novel that is smart, addictive and mystifying.
Call Me Evie by J.P. Pomare is published by Hachette Australia. Out now. $29.99
To learn more about the author of Call Me Evie, J.P. Pomare, visit here.
*Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.