by Will Ferguson
A startlingly original tale of heartbreak and suspense.
419 takes readers behind the scene of the world’s most insidious internet scam. When Laura’s father gets caught up in one such swindle and pays with his life, she is forced to leave the comfort of North America to make a journey deep into the dangerous back streets and alleyways of the Lagos underworld to confront her father’s killer. What she finds there will change her life forever … (goodreads.com)
DISCLAIMER: I promise you that this is not a biased review in any way. Not because I agreed to review it and certainly not because the author’s brother happens to be my boss. In fact, if I were to base my review on the fact that the author’s brother is my boss, then this would not be a favourable review at all since I am currently unhappy with my boss because HE FORGOT ABOUT ME when I was skipping my lunch to meet with him and he never came back from getting his coffee. Yes. This is a true story and one that I shall hold over my boss for the duration of his tenure in his current position. And don’t think I don’t know you’re reading this, Boss Man. Now the Internet is witness to your fault and will take my side in this matter because I AM AWESOME and the internet loves me. =P
With that disclaimer out of the way (don’t want you all to think I am lying to you in my review!) I will admit that I said yes to reviewing this book from Penguin during a time that I am not actually accepting books for review BECAUSE it amused me greatly that Will Ferguson is my boss’ brother. That, and the summary sounded totally interesting and original.
Super cool points to this book for having half of its setting in Canada. Yay, Canada!
I have never read a Will Ferguson book before and now that I have read 419 I know I have to read more. Ferguson writes compelling prose and intricate personal relationships. I loved reading the story this man was telling. I was hooked on the suspense of the email scam gone wrong and I ended up having nightmares the night I finished the book.
However, this book took me way longer to read than it should of. In fact, I should have had it read and reviewed by the 27th of March when it came out (sorry, Penguin!) but as you all know from my whining on this here blog, I am having a heck of a time reading anything. Even though I did finish this book last weekend, it’s taken me yet another week to sit down and write about it. (Sorry, Penguin!)
While I did love the suspense and mystery surrounding the death of Laura’s father, the pacing was a teeny bit slow for my own liking. I like a mystery like this to take my breath away from its fast and thrilling pace. Part of me was ok with that though because I find a rare beauty in the way Will Ferguson writes. He notices the small things – in fact Laura even comments on that aspect of writing at one point – and I really like when authors notice the small things. It makes the story a lot more real and believable. I like when simple things are described. You truly feel like you’re in the moment with the protagonist.
The only negative comment I have about the story was in the third part. We’re suddenly whisked away from the back-and-forth of Alberta and Nigeria and immersed fully in another part of Africa with a completely different set of characters. It didn’t bother me too much at first because a) I knew it would eventually tie in with the rest of the story b) I thought we’d flip back to Alberta and Laura sooner than we did and c) I rather liked the characters… BUT… and there’s always a but. I felt as though I was suddenly in a completely different story. This section of the book went on just a little bit too long for my ADD brain to keep interested in. As I described it to my bosses one afternoon “It’s like one of those scenes in Family Guy that starts off funny, but just keeps going until it’s not funny anymore and it becomes awkward and annoying? You know that kind of thing?” As beautiful as the storytelling was in the third part of the book, I had a hard time wanting to keep reading the book itself. Part of it was my currently difficulty with reading anything and part of it was a reaction I still would have had even without my reading ruttness.
I will say that once I began reading the fourth and final part of the story, I was even more wrapped up in the suspense than I was at the start. I didn’t put down the book for the longest stretch of time (that I have had in recent months) and I NEEDED to know how this was all going to come together. I was actually even slightly surprised by the ending, I had thought it would go a similar way but I didn’t think it would happen exactly the way it did.
I think my favourite part of the entire book was that final section and the dialogue and relationship between Laura and Winston (oh, crap, I don’t think I have his name right! Argh! And I can’t double check because I gave the book to my boss on Monday! Well, this makes for a horrible post on my part. Oops.) (Sorry, Penguin!) I actually really liked those two together even though it was all tense and suspenseful. I loved Laura’s visit with his parents. LOVED IT!
So, yeah… I read this book for many reasons, gloated that I received the book before the author’s own brother did (neener neener!) and ended up finding a new (to me) author that I want to read more of. As long as Will Ferguson doesn’t forget about me while I’m skipping lunch to try and help him out, I think this is the start of a wonderful relationship!