Book Review: All That Followed by Gabriel Urza

23168832It’s 2004 in Muriga, a quiet town in Spain’s northern Basque Country, a place with more secrets than inhabitants. Five years have passed since the kidnapping and murder of a young local politician–a family man and father–and the town’s rhythms have almost returned to normal. But in the aftermath of the Atocha train bombings in Madrid, an act of terrorism that rocked a nation and a world, the townspeople want a reckoning of Muriga’s own troubled past: Everyone knows who pulled the trigger five years ago, but is the young man now behind bars the only one to blame? All That Followed peels away the layers of a crime complicated by history, love, and betrayal. The accounts of three townspeople in particular–the councilman’s beautiful young widow, the teenage radical now in jail for the crime, and an aging American teacher hiding a traumatic past of his own–hold the key to what really happened. And for these three, it’s finally time to confront what they can find of the truth.

Inspired by a true story, All That Followed is a powerful, multifaceted novel about a nefarious kind of violence that can take hold when we least expect. (synopsis from Goodreads)

Rating: 5/10

Overall Impression: A decent book that I kind of expected a little more out of, but not a total disappointment.

Recommend for: Fans of literary fiction and character-center stories.

The book ended up not being what I expected, which disappointed me a little. I thought that there was going to be a little more intrigue than there was. Instead the book focuses more on the lives of the people that have to do with the tragedy, both directly and indirectly. I would go further into this line of thought, but then I would be in spoiler territory, and we don’t want that. I will just say that it was a little underwhelming. However, I believe that if you go into this book  with a realistic expectation of the level of intrigue and go into it knowing that it is more of an examination of three people that were directly affected by the murder, I think you would enjoy the book a little more. I think that this is where most of my disappointment lies with this book.

However, while lofty expectations was one of my major issues with this book, it wasn’t the only one. We see from the point of view of three people. All of different ages, cultures, and backgrounds. Yet all of them sounded the same. I couldn’t find any distinctive language that made one voice standout from the others. I had to keep reminding myself who was talking when it came to sections when the stories intersected. Fortunately, the chapters were rather short, so this didn’t cause major headache while reading, but these characters are so different from one another that I would expect them to talk differently.

Because of this, it made it a little difficult for me to become fully invested in the characters. They felt a little flat on the page which was disappointing, since they seemed to have some pretty interesting backstories. Maybe if the book were a little longer this would have allowed for more examination of the characters. As it is, the lack of distinctive voices makes it really difficult to connect to them and thus difficult to really care about their lives.

It was also difficult to see the growth in these characters over the years. The flashbacks focused more on the actual events happening rather than who they were as people, so we didn’t really see any difference between their characters then and now. This was mostly a problem with Mariana since her flashbacks were more numerous than the present day sections, and we didn’t learn much about how events changed her in the present. The main focus was on her life right before and during the kidnapping and murder of her husband. There’s nothing much about her before this, like there is with Joni, and nothing much after, like there is with Iker. She’s only really seen during one point in time, and nothing much happens with her character developmentally during that time. She falls a little flat.

Overall, it was an okay book, but it could have been a lot better.

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