After months of build up and excitement I finally got my hands on a copy of Carrie Hope Fletcher’s first fiction book, ‘On The Other Side’. I had previously read ‘All I Know Now’ by the author, a book comprising of her life and longer blog style writing she had never posted online. It was a book I enjoyed greatly and wrote a review for, however I found ‘On The Other Side’ very disappointing.
The book is about Evie Snow, a woman who dies in her eighties and ends up as her 27 year old self in a sort of purgatory. Evie must face her secrets in order to be light enough to pass through the door and enter her heaven. She has three secrets, each with a section of the book dedicated to them. Evie must face her hurt and longing over her lost love Vincent, her sacrifice to help her brother because of her mother’s cold nature and her life with her childhood friend.
The book and plot had so much potential for me and I was ready for a bit of soppy romance but I just didn’t feel it was particularly well written so sadly this is going to be quite a negative review.
I was a tad confused with the time period of the book as some terms used by the author such as ‘motion pictures’ and the old school views of Evie and her family suggested the book was set years back however then there were scenes where a mobile phone would buzz which suggest present day or relatively modern. I’m unsure whether Fletcher had a time setting in mind or just didn’t notice that it’s all a bit jumbled. I did however enjoy how she jumped backwards and included flashbacks as a way of telling Evie’s secrets and revealing more about her life.
I found the descriptions and actions of almost all the male characters incredibly sexist which I realise was a part of the plot but it annoyed me quite a lot. It felt very derrogitory towards men and then felt very sexist from a female point of view. It reminds me of how people get confused by the term ‘feminist’ and how they are ‘man haters’ which, judging by her videos, I don’t think Carrie Fletcher is. This, again, confused me on the time frame of the book as this seemed quite old fashioned compared to developments in feminism now.
The main characters, Evie and Vincent seemed to be based on the author herself and her boyfriend, whom are well known Youtubers. This to me seemed like an easy way out for character development and lacked imagination. Physically they seemed similar and their personalities were similar. This also made the characters quite boring for me and in the end up I disliked Evie. I also disliked how self depreciating she was as it seemed to be a ploy for the reader to feel sorry for her.
The author included characters of different sexual orientation which I felt was very good of her as this is often a problem with writing however I don’t think it was written in the correct way. Fletcher bluntly stated that Vincent was bisexual which is all good with me but was just blurted out as if she was trying too hard to be inclusive.
There was little description in the book and I found it hard to imagine scenes and characters because of this. It felt directed towards a much younger audience and I feel this is something the author should consider should she choose to write another book. This may have come from my recent interest in Stephen King but I feel all books need a certain amount of description for them to be engaging for the reader and really tell the story.
There is a particular scene I felt was copied from the TV show Once Upon A Time which angered me as it is a show I love and know the author watches. It didn’t feel original at all and on top of this I felt it was very far fetched within the storyline. Evie and the characters seemed completely normal, no magic, no supernatural. Evie’s time in ‘purgatory’ was believable as we don’t know what happens after death but then suddenly magical things were happening outside of this which were not believable in the slightest as the story hadn’t been set up in the right way.
For me the best scene was at the end involving Vincent and the tree as it was the only scene I felt I could really imagine and see. It was the most descriptive part of the whole book where the authors thoughts hadn’t just been blurted out and bullet pointed and it actually made me feel something. It’s just sad it had to come at the very end when I’d already made my mind up about the book in general.
All in all, I didn’t particularly enjoy this book and sadly had a lot of criticism for it. I enjoy Carrie Hope Fletcher greatly as a blogger, performer and YouTuber and she was incredibly lovely to me when I met her but I don’t think fiction is for her, and if she does choose to write more fiction I think she should definitely work towards a younger audience.
If you are a younger reader and enjoy magic, love stories and enjoy an easy read then this book is for you. The plot leaves room for imagination and the love story between Evie and Vincent is a beautiful one. It is cheesy and soppy and the fairytale ending is enough to induce tears for readers that enjoy romance.