The Wave by Virginia Moffatt #BookReview #BlogTour

Tonight they’ll share their darkest secrets, but tomorrow, there is no escape…

A devastating tsunami is heading towards the Cornish coast. With no early warning and limited means of escape, many people won’t get away in time.

While the terrifying reality of the news hits home, one young woman posts a message on Facebook, ‘With nowhere to run to, I’m heading to my favourite beach to watch the sunset, who wants to join me?’

A small group of people follow her lead and head towards the beach; each of them are harbouring their own stories, and their own secrets.

As they come together in the dying light of the Cornish sunset, they will discover something much more powerful than they ever imagined. But there is no escaping the dawn … the wave is coming…

It's such a pleasure to be kicking off the blog tour for The Wave today. Many thanks to Virginia Moffatt, One More Chapter and Emma Welton from damppebbles blog tours for inviting me and for my advance digital copy of the novel.

"If you knew the world was going to end tomorrow, how would you spend your last hours?" is one of those questions that many of us will have been asked at some point or another and for most it will be as hypothetical as dream dinner guests or who would play you in the movie of your life. However, for the characters in The Wave, it's about to become a reality as a devastating tsunami is headed their way and they have no hope of escaping.
The book opens just after the world has learned that there is going to be a massive volcanic collapse on La Palma which will trigger megatsunamis that will hit the coasts of America, the UK, Ireland and Africa by eight o'clock tomorrow morning. It transpires that geologists hadn't realised the seismic activity was unusual and it was only when an intern realised the tremors were building to something far bigger than anybody could have expected. It means that with very little warning, many of the people currently in Cornwall won't be able to travel to safety in time. The roads are blocked and the rail service overwhelmed and although most people decide to keep pressing on, hoping against hope, a few make the decision to stay put rather than see out their last few hours caught up in a futile race against time.
It's a terrifying premise and yet The Wave turns out to be a rather life-affirming read. The chapters are split between a number of different characters, beginning with Poppy who posts a status on Facebook announcing her decision to spend her final hours on the beach, inviting anybody who feels the same to come and keep her company. Before long she is joined by Yan, Margaret, James, Nikki, Harry and Shelley. Yan and James are friends and Harry and Shelley in a relationship but otherwise the group are strangers. There is an element of repetition to the storyline as events are seen through their individual perspectives but I never found this to be a problem and indeed, it serves as a reminder that even in shared experiences, everybody present comes with their own personal issues.
That said, there are some characters I warmed to more than others, with Harry being the obvious outlier who is less easy to like than the others. There are a number of emotional scenes as the group quickly bond, supporting one another during their final hours but unsurprisingly, such an intense situation also leads to some uncomfortable moments where tempers become frayed, particularly when subjects involving religion or politics are discussed (and obviously Brexit is unavoidable!) What is particularly fascinating here is that although any arguments are initially immediately familiar to anybody who uses social media, in a face to face situation those involved are more able to calm down and consider other viewpoints. There is something almost unbearably poignant about the fact that it takes an unavoidable tragedy for people to recognise that those who have opposing opinions aren't always thoughtless or selfish. The juxtaposition between the group on the beach and those discussing them on social media is a sad but realistic observation of the frequent toxicity of online conversations. The characters may learn to take a step back but that doesn't mean they are forced to forego all their principles; I particularly enjoyed the conversations Nikki and James have about racism and why there are times when it is important to speak up, even - and perhaps especially - when it means confronting a friend.
As the hours tick away, tension and a heavy sadness hangs over the novel; the alternating chapters may mean little time is spent really getting to the heart of each character but nevertheless, I grew to care about them all - even Harry. As they talk about their pasts, their secrets and their regrets, there are some surprising revelations but this isn't a book filled with shock twists. It reflects on the value of ordinary lives, with all their problems and complications, and perhaps the most bittersweet aspect of The Wave is that despite the inescapable tragedy of lives being cut short, hope can still be found in the darkest of times; whether through the beauty of the natural world, seeking solace in personal faith or through the support of friendship and even love flourishing in the unlikeliest of settings. The Wave is a moving, engrossing and thought-provoking read, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Wave is published by One More Chapter, purchasing links can be found here but please consider ordering from one of our wonderful independent bookstores if you can, particularly during these difficult times.

Don't forget to follow the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Virginia Moffatt was born in London, one of eight children, several of whom are writers. 'The Wave' is her second novel. Her previous publications are 'Echo Hall' (Unbound) and 'Rapture and what comes after' (Flash fiction collection published by Gumbo Press). She also writes non fiction. Virginia is married to Chris Cole, Director of Drone Wars UK. They have two daughters at University and a son still living with them in Oxford.
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