Challenge 17 ~ “A book with a beautiful cover.”
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
It was most definitely the cover that drew me into this novel in the first place. I saw it on my NetGalley dashboard and was instantly drawn in, where I found an incredible blurb that had me hitting ‘request’ before I knew it. I’ve not had too many experiences with adult-level mystery novels, because in those that I have read, I’ve found difficulties in maintaining an interest due to pacing or character issues. Unfortunately The Dolphin ran into some similar issues in places, which hasn’t helped my hesitation around the sub-genre – is it the style of these novels that just isn’t right for my personal preferences, or have I just picked a bad selection as my first experiences?
The Dolphin wasn’t a horrific read throughout, leading to great deliberation over the rating (as much as in general life I like to air on the side of generosity, when it comes to finding books I think people should read, there are so many out there that I’d rather air on the side of caution.) The early chapters of the novel were significantly better than I’d been anticipating, and I was more than eager to continue reading the novel. The ending, too, was a good read, finally addressing the storyline discussed in the blurb, and balancing action with other developmental elements.
Aside from these two, however, I struggled to engage with the novel. Following the enticing initial chapters, Hallenstein diverted into an overly-deep exploration of the characters and their backstories, which was not supported by much plot development or action. I’m all for adequate background information and realistic developments, but I found Hallenstein’s particularly dense and extended. Furthermore, where there were plot developments, there was little related to the blurb (and thus the story I was anticipating) – in fact, it was approximately two thirds through before the kidnap outlined in the blurb (on which the story seemingly pivoted) actually occurred. To top it all off, I found for a mature and adult-novel that there were instances in which Hallenstein was unnecessarily crude, which deflated the atmosphere and created a disconnect with the reader. In handling such mature themes, light relief can be a useful tool, but I found it wasn’t used to the best effect in The Dolphin.
From such a strong start, and with such a well-written ending, I feel it’s a shame for The Dolphin to rate so low, yet there were considerable portions of the book that proved problematic and difficult to engage with. Hallenstein handles some mature themes (and not in a catastrophic way), as well as brings to light interesting points of consideration for our modern-day society. Without considerable patience, however, the writing style, misjudged humour and unbalanced plot-background dynamics limit the true effect of the well thought-out novel.
N.B.: This ebook was received from Netgalley in return for a reflective and honest review.