Books,  Four Stars,  Interview,  Review,  YA

Book Review; Never Ending by Martyn Bedford (And Interview)

Never EndingAuthor: Martyn Bedford
Publisher: Walker Books
Published: 6th February 2014
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Source:: Review Copy from Publisher
Add It: Goodreads, Amazon UK, TBD

When a family holiday ends in tragedy, the grieving parents’ marriage is left in ruins and, Shiv, their 15-year-old daughter, is tormented by what happened … and her part in it. Off the rails and unable to live with her guilt, Shiv is sent away to an exclusive clinic that claims to “cure” people like her.

But this is no ordinary psychiatric institution and Shiv discovers that her release – from her demons, and from the clinic itself – will come, if it comes at all, at a bizarre and terrible price.

When Everything

While it has been a while since I read a book with a similar setting, I often really enjoy books that touch upon mental illness so when I heard about this book, I knew it was one that I would quite like to read. Fortunately, upon finishing this book, I found it to be a brilliant and wonderful read that I would easily recommend to others. It is incredibly well-written and I was, quite honestly, taken aback at how invested I got into the story. My expectations for some reason were low but I was just incredibly grateful when they were blown out of the water.

Is Taken Away

Shiv is struggling to return to a normal life after the death of her little brother. In one final attempt to help her, her parents send her off to the Korsakoff Centre, where a new style of therapy that has never been tested on teenagers before is being trialed. The book is her journey at this institution where she is staying for two months to help her gain some semblence of normal back to her life. I found the plot and the institution to be incredibly fascinating. The methods that Martyn has thought up are intense, vibrant, and often times fairly scary. The plot kept the reader hooked throughout, making in a truly entertaining read.

How Do We

Without a doubt, every single character in this book was well thought-out and really well-written. These are character that could easily step off the page. Shiv was an intensely complex character with issues running to her ver core but she still wanted to live, to smile, and to simply not give up. I truly admired her strength and found this story really came to life through her eyes. Declan was also a character that I truly loved. He was so lively and fun and just full of so much spirit that it would be hard for anyone to dislike him. Another mentionable character is Mike. He was just written so well, keep an eye out for him.

Learn How

One of the main reasons that I enjoyed this story so much is that it flipped between the past and the present. This changing of tone and setting really helped to create an amazing atmosphere in this book. I couldn’t imagine enjoying it nearly as much if it hadn’t been set out this way. Furthermore, the writing style in this book was really great. It was easy to get sucked into the story, and the descriptions were just so brilliant. I also found the dialogue and character’s actions to feel so realistic which really helped with the overall feel of this book. I will definitely be keeping an eye on Martyn Bedford from now on.

To Survive

In conclusion, then, I would summize that you should get this book and give it a read. If you are like me and really enjoy books about mental illnesses then I really think you’ll enjoy this one. Or if you’re just someone who likes thrilling and captivating stories, then you are likely to enjoy this as well. Never Ending is a well-written novel that will pull you in, keep you on the edge of your seat, and make you emotionally invested in the characters before you even witness it happening. I am truly glad I read this book and would freely admit that you’re missing out by not reading it yourself.

Four Stars

** I received this copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. **

Fortunately Martyn Bedford agreed to pop along to the blog today and answer some of my questions about his new book today as well. Hope you enjoy his answers as much as I did!

Tell us a little bit about yourself, anything you would like your readers to know.
I grew up in Croydon, south London, but now live in West Yorkshire. I lived in a caravan for six months when I was a student. My least interesting job was working in a bank – my most interesting was teaching English in Hong Kong. I once stayed on a crocodile farm in Papua New Guinea. I currently teach creative writing at Leeds Trinity University. I’m married to a librarian and have two daughters aged 15 and 11.

How long have you wanted to be a writer?
Ever since I can remember. When I was about seven or eight, I used to write stories – screenplays, actually – for my toys to act out. Plastic soldiers and cowboys and ‘Indians’ in the same movie. Hollywood missed a trick there. In secondary school I started about five novels but never got beyond the first chapter.

When you’re not typing away at the keyboard coming up with new ideas, what do you do?
I go for walks on the moors around the town where I live, I sit in Caffé Nero and read, I watch football (Leeds United), I go to the cinema, I eat pizza and curry (not at the same time) with my wife and daughters.

Never Ending is set in a new style mental institution, did you do a lot of research for this novel to make sure it felt authentic?
I did quite a bit of online research into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the treatments and therapies for it. The regime at the Korsakoff Clinic, in the novel, is made up. But I’ve based it on elements from various real psychotherapeutic practices.

Shiv is a very complex character, and someone that I found myself really enjoying. Does she have any qualities taken from people you know?
When I started writing fiction most of my characters were based, to one extent or another, on people I knew. But in most of my recent books, the characters are all drawn from my imagination – Shiv included. I like having a blank page to work with in creating a new character; with characters taken from real life, I often feel limited by the need to be true to the original person, even if I alter them quite radically.

I loved the way this book flipped from past to present and just constantly had you on edge, did you write it this way or did you write it all separately and then change the chapters later?
Even when my novels have more than one narrative strand or timeframe, I always write them in the order they’re read in, from first page to last. Never Ending was written in this way, too. I think I’d have got bored writing the ‘before’ chapters all in one go, then writing all the ‘after’ chapters. I liked the change of tone and setting and storyline that came with switching between them at the end of each chapter. It kept the writing fresh, I hope.

There are often many edits to books before they’re published, how much did Never Ending change during this process?
A lot! This novel probably went through more drafts, rewrites and edits than any of my adult or teenage books. Partly this was because I made a false start on a version of the novel which I abandoned after a year and started over again – then it took me another couple of drafts just to work out what kind of novel I was trying to write instead, and more drafts after that to wrestle into shape. I got a lot of editorial help from my agent, Stephanie Thwaites, and my
UK and U.S. editors, Mara Bergman and Wendy Lamb.

Many writers take a while to find their feet when it comes to writing novels, how many books have you written in total (including any that are unpublished, and may stay that way!)?
Eleven, in total. I wrote two unpublished novels in my 20s and early 30s. At the time I thought they were unrecognised works of genius but, now, I realise they weren’t very good at all. So, my first published novel – Acts of Revision – was actually my third novel. I’ve had five novels published for adults and two for teenagers since 1996 but, in amongst them, I’ve written two more adult novels which haven’t been published – one I abandoned after the first draft and the other was rejected by the agent who handles my adult fiction. It took me a few months to realise that he was right to do so and another few before I admitted it to him. When you get a novel published you think you’ve cracked this novel-writing malarkey but, actually, you have to learn how to write each new novel . . . and sometimes you don’t manage it.

During those long hours creating your new novel, were there any bad habits you fell into (eating lots of ben and jerry’s for encouragement, perhaps)?
I pick my nose a lot. (Too much information?) I’m terrible for playing computer games when the writing isn’t going very well (or as a treat when it is). Hearts, reversi, chess, connect 4 . . . you name it, I’ll play it. A few months ago, I disabled all the games on my laptop to remove the temptation. It seems to be wor . . . woah, high score!

And finally, do you have any advice for any aspiring writers out there?
Read as much as you can. Write as much and as regularly as you can. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.

quick fire round

ebooks or hard copies?
Hard copies. I’m 54. I’m a dinosaur.

day or night?
Day. I’m 54. I need to sleep.

reading or writing?

paper or computer?

tea or coffee?
Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon. (Beer/wine in the evening.)

favourite book of the moment?
A recent teen/YA novel I liked a lot was Why We Broke Up, by Daniel Handler.

most memorable book?
Slaughterhouse 5, by Kurt Vonnegut.



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