From the back of The Second Life of Nathan Jones:
Getting hit by a bus was the best thing that ever happened to him…
When one wrong step – and the poor timing of the number 19 bus – send Nathan Jones to the Edinburgh morgue his story should have ended…but then he went and woke up.
Returned to real life Nathan finds a wife disappointed that he’s miraculously returned from the dead and an unshakeable attraction for mortuary technician Kat – the woman who brought him back to life, in more ways than one.
Now, as his world implodes and Kat leads him down an unexpected path, Nathan somehow finds himself having the time of his second life…
I was really looking forward to reading The Second Life of Nathan Jones. It sounded quirky and different, which is exactly what I like in a book. I thought it would be similar to books like “The Hundred-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared” or “The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden”.
It stared promising enough. We get a bit of an insight into Nathan Jones life before he is killed by the bus. We then are with him when he wakes up in the morgue and is rescued by Kat. So far so good. Quirky with likeable characters.
I liked Kat. A lot. She is definitely different from most female characters in novels. She’s Goth, has an interesting backstory and is unapologetically herself. But she is a secondary character. Or, at the very least, she’s not Nathan Jones, the titular character of the book. And that is something the author seems to forget halfway through the book.
Listen, I have come a long way from disliking more than one POV in a book. I recognise that it’s sometimes important to have more than one point of view. But I expect my authors to be consistent. And I expect the POV switches to make sense. I’m not saying that the whole book should be in Nathan Jones’ POV, but at the very least it should have been 50% Nathan Jones and 50% other characters. That is not the case here. The narration switches to Kat less than halfway in and after that we get the occasional glimpse from Nathan’s POV and that’s it.
David Atkinson, the author of this book, seems to forget that this is the story of Nathan Jones’ second life. Instead, the story switches from Nathan’s life to Kat’s. Even though Kat’s life (at that moment) is intertwined with Nathan’s, it still would have made more sense for the story to be told from his POV, not hers.
This is made even worse by the fact that Atkinson can’t really write female characters. Kat’s story is told from a first person POV and at one point she says about herself and her (female) friend: “We do this weird thing women do where we [insert action].” No woman says this about themselves. Ever. And there were more phrases like that which pulled you out of the story and reminded you that this was written by a man. A man who doesn’t really understand women.
It’s really too bad that Atkinson didn’t stay in Nathan Jones’ POV. I thought he was quite interesting and I would have loved to know more about his inner feelings. How does it feel to get a second chance at life? The whole hit-by-a-bus-and-dying thing seemed to be just a convenient way to get him and Kat together and for his wife to leave him, but other than that it didn’t really play a role in the book. I think that’s a missed opportunity.
You can get The Second Life of Nathan Jones at Amazon for 99p at the moment (for the eBook).