I love paradoxes. Even though I know they are basically unsolvable, I love to think again and again about them, exploring the variety of nuances and questions they pose. Human brain is too limited to solve such an issue, but it’s worth endless debates that could go on forever as it is impossible to reach an agreement.
When I read the title phrase as the subtitle of a book, there was no choice: I had to buy and read it. Especially because the victim of the attempted murder is a climber.
I wasn’t aware of anyone ever attempting to write a book from the victim’s point of view, because it would be quite hard to justify. As in the Occam’s razor, the simplest answer is the way to go: the victim isn’t dead, but they’re pretty close.
I had great expectations about the book but I had to put a leash on my curiosity because I bought it just before leaving for my backpacking trip and I needed my backpack to be as small and light as possible, but also because I have to admit that as much as I love climbing, reading a book about a climbing accident as I was actually climbing didn’t seem like a good omen. The book stood there, looking at me from the shelf I had put it in, for almost a month until I finally picked it up.
I was so curious to see how the story played out, because the blurb makes it very clear that Alex, the protagonist, is the victim and he’s suffering from locked-in syndrome after a bad fall from a cliff he was climbing. He can hear and feel everything that is happening around him, but he can’t communicate with them in any way. It’s literally one of the worst situations a human being can be in, and it all gets worse as soon as he hears that the police is beginning to question his friends and acquaintances because new evidence suggest that Alex’s fall could have been no accident.
In the endless days he spends alone, Alex has the chance to think and think about the accident. Can he be sure that his gear wasn’t sabotaged by someone he knows? Who could it be, and why did he do something like that?
I’m not going to say anything else about the plot, except that I wasn’t very satisfied by the solution of the mystery, even though it follows all the basic rules of the murder mystery genre. I can’t say whether it just fell flat to me because it was a weak solution or because it paled in comparison to all the other feelings the book gave me.
The author captured perfectly the psychology of climbers, their forma mentis leading them to analyse a single passage over and over again until they master it, their perfectionism and determination in getting somewhere through a route that could very well be the hardest one. Their love of nature and of the outdoors.
With the same perfectionism and attention to detail he used when he was climbing, Alex spends his time alone in a hospital bed thinking over and over again at the day of the accident and to everything that happened before that to see if he can remember something that could give him a lead about who tried to kill him. All this while knowing he can’t communicate with the external word. The current happenings mix with his memories about his life with his loved ones, and as he digs deeper he can feel something is off.
As I said, I didn’t like the puzzle solution very much, but it was sound. Moreover, the tension built up so well in the final part of the book (when Alex finally understands and has to warn everyone he loves before it’s too late) it became a page turner and I couldn’t put it down. I read it all in a single weekend, also because the writing flows very well and the chapters are short enough for me to say “Well, one more.”
And then the ending, and the feelings it gave me when the mystery is over and there in only one big looming issue to solve: Alex’s recovery. This is another point that must not be spoiled, but get ready the get emotional towards the last couple of chapters.
Overall, I loved the book. The fact that I didn’t appreciate very much the solution of the murder mystery was definitely obscured and cancelled by how well it was written and by how accurate it was in the depiction of relationships, youth enthusiasm, and doubts when facing difficult questions.
No need to ask, this is definitely a must read.