The writing of this debut novel is solid- concise, expressive, appropriately subdued and always evocative of Berlin's unique blend of historic melancholy and continental chill. From beginning to finish the author manages to maintain this level of atmospheric writing so the reader feels consistently enveloped in an authentic and strangely compelling voice, which is already more than can be said of many novels.
However, the plot is, for me, a problem. Or rather, the lack thereof. On the whole, this novel feels more like a string of well-made observations of the city and its people than a thoroughly thought-through story. When the heroine starts off her narration by recounting an impossible sighting on the U-Bahn from years ago, the tone is set for a conspiracy-flavored, possibly mythology-related thriller. The author does nothing to redirect this assumption by throwing all kinds of suspicius characters, creepy locations, invisible sounds and signals, and unexplained events into the mix. In the end, however, everything just runs their course without ever being resolved and you don't get the sense that a plot with a beginning and an end has been presented.
It's not that all these mysterious anecdotes aren't fun to read. In fact, they capture the essence of life in Berlin very nicely and build up the momentum of the narrative effectively. That none of it leads to fruition turns out to be a great disaapointment though....Continua