This collection of short stories was interesting. It wasn’t what I expected really. As the blurb suggest I was expecting it to be about second looks. Taking the same information and it being completely about something else, but the stories kind of read like a regular story would. Especially the final story.
The first story was the best at the second glance premise. However it was hard to believe a boy of eleven suffering with loss would react this way. The more obvious solution would be to keep memories close and if the end goal is hiding them, a place where close hidden and accessible can be combined in which case one can keep the secret while also having something tangible to grieve with quietly.
The second story didn’t follow through on the second glance promise. There was talk about routine, which is perfectly normal. Then the actual superstition doesn’t resolve. For there to be a second glance something the protagonist rejected as superstition needs to then somehow be proven true at some point. The main character, however, doesn’t experience such a thing so there isn’t really anything to take a second look at.
The third story was actually a good read. Written well. Predictable story but most a lot are these days so no fault there. The interview felt a little too good though. Like for the second glance to take hold the interview should’ve read more typical. As a reader reading that interview, I wasn’t shocked by the outcome. Also, as far as second glances go, the anxiety, the stress, the assumptions and everything made outside of the interview still stand. None of that really changes once the ending comes, unlike with the first story where every assumption shifts upon a relook, in this story nothing actually has to shift, another interview could literally yield the same emotions and have a completely different outcome.
The fourth story I liked the least. It does, like the first one, deliver on the second look angle. However, it felt forced. I didn’t like the main character. Almost everyone knows that taking your eyes of the road makes it their fault and will either lie and act like they were paying attention or try to make it seem like they only looked away for a second if they take the honest route. It really lost me when she said someone in an accident was quietly laying down. If you get into an accident and aren’t moving you are likely unconscious. It doesn’t take a genius to realise this. Her reactions on all accounts where an extremely hard sell for me and emotionally just made me angry.
The ffith story doesn’t deliver on a second glance idea. I rather enjoyed this one, though. Definitely one of the better stories even with its technical flaws. Firstly, if it’s the last stop, those are usually at hubs, not in the middle of nowhere, and the fact he asked when does the driver go back signifies that another bus, if not that bus, should be coming from somewhere. This is proven when he hops a ride to another bus stop and quite literally waits for a bus. Begs the question why he couldn’t just wait for a bus where he was? Secondly, I read a paragraph multiple times and there is no mention of numbers being exchanged so how did he get this text? Especially since he had no phone so he had to give her his number. Beyond this it was a genuinely interesting story but didn’t really hold a ‘things are not always what they seem’ feel to it. Honestly for the ending to pay of it needed a good three pargraphs more of flirty fun to really sell it. That was the only real flaw.
The sixth story was an even harder sell than the fourth. A college age student knows nothing about his grandfather, and wasn’t smart enough deduce he, and his dad, did not have a good relationship. As a kid you pick up on things, and something like that is hard to miss. It’s just unreal that after 18 plus years of life, a guy can look at a photo and instantaneously think some magical connection exists when he’s had zero evidence of this, and, most importantly has zero signs to show his own father son relationship is off. So that had different interest, that’s perfectly normal. And, assuming grandpa recently died, him knowing little about the man indicates his parents went out of their way to avoid talking about him and even visiting him. It’s just stupid-hard to believe a teen, yet alone a young adult couldn’t pick up on those vibes and just magically assumed looking at one picture the relationship itself was magical.
The last story was definitely the most fun to read. Like everything about this story was perfect. Well almost everything. You get all this good set up for something and then a new person is suddenly introduced at the end and surprise but not so surprise ending unfolds. It just took the sails out of a particular fun story to just end it the way it did especially when one half of that ending was set up so nicely for a secondary character and the second half had me like, ‘please don’t do this’ the moment it was set up at the last minute… Sigh. This story had such good momentum and seemed like it was heading to a good fulfilling climax and the shock value wasn’t particularly shocking and the only thought I left with was ‘what was all this good set up for if it wasn’t actually heading to the end’.
As the Blurb specifically states taking a second glance reveals more insight only two of the stories perfectly delivered on this and the last one, which was my favourite, delivered the least on this because it was effectively a shock ending.
All in all the writing was great. The stories were interesting. And it was a short somewhat engaging read. I’d definitely recommend it for a quick weekend read when you want something entertaining, but not something you have to get too emotional involved in. For me however, I was expecting more of an in-depth exploration into haw things can be different from they seem and the best example of that, even with its flaws, was the first instalment. It quite literally did exactly what the title of the novel and blurb said.