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Never Ending by Martyn Bedford

Never Ending

by Martyn Bedford

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572314,384 (3.44)None
Traumatized by grief and guilt after her younger brother dies during a family vacation, fifteen-year-old Shiv is sent away to an exclusive clinic that claims to "cure" people like her.



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For more reviews, gifs, Cover Snark and more, visit A Reader of Fictions.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m a little skeptical when there’s a YA book by a major publisher I’ve not heard of. Like, intellectually, I know that it’s a problem with the publisher’s marketing, but some of me really feels like the book’s not getting any attention so it’s probably terrible. That gut feeling is really hard for me to kick, and it totally had me side-eying Never Ending in my pile. My point is that I am glad I do not let this stupid, herd-following instinct drive me, because I would have missed out on a good book. Never Ending is a dark look at dealing with feelings of guilt following the death of a loved one.

Never Ending alternates between Shiv (short for Siobhan) in the present and her memories of the past. She’s dealing with her brother’s tragic death in Greece, which resulted in a total media circus. Bedford does the whole thing where the truth of what happens unfolds really slowly, so you don’t find out precisely how his death happened until near the end. When the novel opens, Shiv’s dad is driving her to a special sixty day psychiatric treatment course, because she’s not been coping after her brother Declan’s death. She’s been really destructive and unhealthy since then, overwhelmed by grief and guilt.

The Korsakoff Clinic only has six teens for the session, and it’s very targeted at teens who aren’t coping well and who feel guilty for the death of their loved one. I do really wonder how this clinic functions and if it’s a really expensive option for rich people, but whatever. The treatment they undergo there is really interesting, and also horrifically painful. The reactions to each thing vary from person to person, and I just find mental health really fascinating. It’s heartbreaking to watch Shiv go through all of this.

Everything that happens is very much from Shiv’s perspective. Like, it’s third person limited, but more than that Shiv is just so much in her own head at this point. Even as she befriends some other people at the clinic, she’s not really trying to understand them on a deep level. She’s too mired in her own life. Her progress feels very natural, with all the setbacks and difficulties along the way. I’m also just thrilled the book didn’t take a paranormal turn or make anything more melodramatic than it needed to be. There’s no demonization of psychiatrists either.

What really charmed me about Never Ending though were the flashbacks with Shiv’s family. When the reader meets her, she’s a shadow of who she once was. In the flashbacks, she’s this normal teenage girl, hoping for a romantic adventure on her holiday to Greece. Her family has this amazing connection and she’s truly best friends with Declan, who is actually amazing. The family has so many inside jokes and banters delightfully. It’s in comparing what was to what now is that the pain really got me in the heart.

While the story arc isn’t particularly surprising, Never Ending is a thoughtful look at death and survivor guilt. It’s a dark but beautiful story, recommended for readers who enjoy contemporaries that hurt the heart. ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Mar 20, 2015 |
Death. NEVER ENDING is about death and life, guilt and the choices people make. It's about how microscopic missteps can lead to catastrophes that carry people beyond their abilities to cope.

Martyn Beford uses two timelines to move us through this story. Shiv's (Siobhan's) first narrative is of the torturous journey through therapy. This is intertwined with the tale of her family's sun kissed vacation in Greece. The first time line made her tragedy very real to me. The second kept me chained to the book so that I read it all in one day. I was so curious about exactly what happened in Greece to Declan, her beloved 12 year old brother. Did it have something to do with the boy she was flirting with, or not.

I was also curious about the other participants: Mickey, Caron, Helen, Lucy and Dorchester. Each had lost someone dear to them. And each held themselves responsible. (And sometimes they were.)

Somehow it seems wrong to say that I enjoyed reading this book about other people's suffering. But I did.

NEVER ENDING is a fast paced novel. Part drama, part mystery. There's humor and some good writing. The ending flowed naturally from the narrative but it was almost anticlimactic after all the characters had been through.

Definitely recommend this one if you're looking for a smart drama.

--review copy ( )
  PamFamilyLibrary | Jun 10, 2014 |
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