If I had to use one word to describe Be Ready for the Lightning by Grace O’Connell, I would say vivid; from the descriptions of the scenery to the characters, everything in this book was so intricately developed and detailed. I could smell the smells and hear the sounds. I felt like I knew these people, they were my friends and my confidants. Throughout my reading, I felt a visceral attachment to them, which made this one feel suspenseful and explosive. O’Connell is a master of imagery and I was captivated by her prose.
The novel opens like every other day. Veda has just moved from Vancouver to New York, running from her complicated relationship with her brother, and is starting her day like every other day: by almost missing her bus. As she gets on just in time and begins to the monotony of her bus ride, a man a hijacks the bus and shoots the driver. Veda finds herself in an unpredictable hostage situation.
The narrative style of this novel was incredibly unique and interesting. The novel is told in several sections and in several time periods. It is told partially in the relative past as Veda experiences the events on the bus, partially in the present as Veda deals with the aftermath of the ordeal and the rest, told in flashbacks, as Veda remembers moments from her childhood and timelines the relationship with her brother, Conrad as they grow up in a Vancouver suburb. I couldn’t help but consistently wonder how all these pieces would fit together and how her past experiences would help her in the present. Veda, as a character, is very observant. Constantly taking inventory of things around her. I found this to add to the tone that O’Connell sets throughout the novel. No detail is missed and no stone is left unturned.
This is absolutely a slow burn of a read, definitely not a fast-paced, in your face style of thriller. But don’t get it twisted, this one, although not the type of novel I am usually into (I know I complain about slow moving books ALL THE TIME), Be Ready for the Lightning had me grabbing on to every word and holding my breath. I could not wait to see what would happen and how this would pan out.
If you like stories that are character-centered and will have you anxiously awaiting a resolution, this would be a perfect read for you. I also feel like there is so much in this narrative that would make a fantastic book club discussion. AND to top it all off, O’Connell is a Canadian author. Which you know I am always delighted to find!
I gave this one 5/5 stars. I loved it. It is out TODAY so be sure to grab yourself a copy; you won’t regret it!!