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Posted April 4, 2012
The Watch That Ends the Night is a moving piece of historical fi
The Watch That Ends the Night is a moving piece of historical fiction told in verse, with over 20 POVs. Its a haunting, often foreshadowing look at the lives of those aboard the Titanic in the days leading up to and directly following its tragic sinking.
Before the start of Titanic's maiden voyage we are introduced to a massive amount of characters from all different economic and social backgrounds. With so many POVs it can be a bit confusing at first remembering who is who, especially with the crew. Thankfully most of the characters have a very particular way of talking and their own unique backstory helping to distinguish them from one another. Its hard to narrow down which characters stood out the most (Captain E.J. Smith and Margaret Brown are obvious choices) but I actually found myself connecting more with some of the lesser know passengers such as Jamila (a Lebanese refugee) and Olaus (a Norwegian immigrant).
The pacing of this novel is a tricky thing because I found myself completely invested in the characters and story right from the start, how could I not be, but then it started to drag in the middle. While I wish the pace could have remained the same, I understood the need for the slower, quieter moments. The normalcy of day to day life aboard the ship made everything feel all the more real, since none of the passengers anticipated what was to come next. When Titanic collides with the iceberg the slow pace is gone in seconds and you will find it completely impossible to put the book down until you've learned the fate of all the characters on board.
To say this novel is overwhelming at times would be a huge understatement. The chaos is tangible and electric making the reader feel angry and helpless. I cried while reading it and my heart broke for the crew who tried to help knowing there wasn't much they could do. For the third class passengers who couldn't speak English and didn't fully understand what was going on. For the people who were left on the ship as it sank knowing there was no where to go and for the families that were torn apart never to be reunited.
The research and facts author Allan Wolf shares at the end of the novel are just as remarkable as the novel itself. 20+ pages of notes help shed light on how much of the story is fact versus fiction as well as the actually life stories of those that lived through and died in the disaster.
If you're a fan of verse, historical fiction or the Titanic then this novel is a must read. If you're not, then I would still encourage you to give it a chance since I've never read a book quite like it nor do I predict that I will again. Obviously this novel left quite an impression on me, one that can best be summed up in this harrowing line written by one of the survivors.
"My tears fall when I think about it, because I saw what I will never forget as long as I live."
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Posted January 11, 2012
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