Kate Maddison ‘Leaned In’ and now she’s Burned Out. Lost and disillusioned, she volunteers in a Channel Island detention centre and meets Abra, a displaced Syrian detained after he’s caught trying to enter the UK in the post-Brexit age.
Two damaged souls meet and mend – or at least begin to. Because the secretive offshore camp they find themselves in isn’t what it appears to be.
But that’s fine.
Neither is Abra.
Or even Kate herself…
Every now and again I’ll find myself utterly surprised by a novel. I’ll be expecting one thing and end up getting something entirely different. Offshore is billed as a romantic suspense, but in reality, it traverses the psychological thriller terrain with ease.
Kate Maddison has made a mess of her life, burned most of her bridges, and generally needs to get herself back on track, mentally and socially. Volunteering to work at an offshore detention centre seems like a good idea, mainly because it affords her a legitimate escape option. Kate is very jaded, but her introspection is highly relatable and very entertaining, in a snarky sarcastic kind of way. The thing about Kate though, is that she’s just one step away from being any one of us. We all get worn down by the daily grind, frustrated by our working environment, disappointed in our relationships. The majority of us don’t quite reach the breaking point that Kate has, but that’s not to say we haven’t thought about acting on our impulses from time to time when we feel overtired or completely stressed out. Kate was quite authentic, and despite being monumentally stuffed up when we meet her, I liked her right from the outset. Likewise, Abra was a character whose complexity drew me in with immediate empathy. On some levels he was so contained, on others, completely unravelled. As the novel progressed and I realised the full extent of Abra’s character development, my admiration for Andrea Jones as a writer increased exponentially. What she does with Abra is sensational; I’ve read other novels where authors have missed the mark when going down such dark paths with their characters.
Alternating between Kate and Abra, the story moves along at a rapid pace; dialogue is tight, and scenes are packed with action and tension. Offshore is a novel that kind of just picks you up and runs away with you. I began reading Offshore quite late one evening and only read about 75 pages, tiredness getting the better of me, but the following night I started reading a bit earlier and ended up staying up until midnight just so I could finish it all. It has that ‘un-put-downable’ quality to it that all good thrillers need, but sometimes lack. Along with being highly entertaining in an edge of your seat way, many tough issues are tackled within Offshore. Andrea presents some rather thought provoking content about asylum seekers, the trauma associated with being a refugee, and the powerlessness of being at the mercy of an immigration system bursting under the pressure of world-wide conflict. There is a sinister undertone prevalent throughout, sustaining the element of threat that is posed to both characters in an authentic way.
Offshore is a novel that I can genuinely see adapted into a fast paced and thrilling movie where Abra is played by Sendhil Ramamurthy – who starred in early seasons of the TV show Beauty and the Beast as Gabe Lowan, photo below – (sorry, but I needed to slip that in because that’s exactly who I kept picturing Abra as from the moment he appeared on the page). Anyway, fan-girling about divinely gorgeous actors named Sendhil aside, if you’re into thrillers with a dark edge and a bit of sizzling romantic tension on the side, Offshore will fit the bill nicely! Might also be an ideal book club pick as there are quite a few moralistic issues to chew over. And, how stunning is that cover?!
Thanks is extended to the author, Andrea Jones, for gifting me with a copy of Offshore for review.
Offshore is book 51 in my 2017 Australian Women Writers Challenge.