There are times when you don’t like a book. There are times when you love a book. Between the two lies a balance, a way of thinking, knowledge that there is something there that just didn’t click with you as a reader. Our reviews are not meant to disparage others who enjoyed this story, but to show that not every book can be loved by every reader.
The book hooked me from the first pages. Claire and Eva, both on the run for very different reasons, meet by chance in an airport lounge and decide to switch boarding passes in order to give each a head start in eluding those who will surely come after them. The flight Claire was supposed to take, the one Eva is on, crashes and Claire realizes this is an opportunity to disappear and start a new life. She assumes Eva’s identity, but soon discovers that the story Eva told her was completely false.
On the positive side, the short chapters move the story along at a fast clip, and the ending was a complete surprise (in a good way). However, there were too many unlikely coincidences that moved the story forward, and you will have to suspend some disbelief, which is not exactly a negative, as it’s expected in this genre.
Through alternating chapters we learn their backstories. The following information is given very early in the book so this is not a spoiler. Claire was living a life of wealth and privilege with a husband who had political aspirations, but her life away from the public eye was less than idyllic with an abusive husband. Eva appeared to be living a quiet life as a waitress, but she has a secret life of crime selling drugs to college kids,and it has landed her in legal trouble.
I don’t have a problem with an author creating an amoral character but Eva’s character was written in such a way that we were supposed to feel empathy for her. I did not. She plays the victim card, nothing is her fault, she feels no remorse, and she lacks awareness of the irreparable harm she causes.
I realize this is fiction but with the huge drug problem we have in this country, I didn’t care for the cavalier attitude the author treats it. I know families who have been devastated by drug use and lost their children. It doesn’t belong in a fictional book for entertainment purposes unless the crime is taken seriously.
This was a miss for me on several fronts, and as a buddy read with Marialyce, both of us were left sorely disappointed. If the drug theme doesn’t offend you, this would be an easy read to toss in the beach bag. If I had known the theme prior to picking this up, I would have skipped it.
So when reading a book, one often asks what exactly was the author’s purpose in writing this book. Was it to educate, to offer a description? Was it to persuade, or perhaps it was to narrate a story or to develop character and detail? Often their purpose pops right out at us, making the decision quite apparent and easy. Following their craft makes a book become something readable, something that drives us forward, something that has a lesson taught.
For the life of me though I could not fathom what the author’s purpose was in The Final Flight. Was she educating us, chastising the systems under which we live, excusing bad behaviors, or perhaps trying to advise us to the fact that growing up unwanted makes for a path that leads always to disaster?
For me this was a conflicted story, one that had a character, Eva, who made many mistakes and whose only purpose in this book was to save her skin. In that saving she didn’t much mind sacrificing another’s life, selling drugs to rich kids, and making many excuses why her life had turned to the nefarious and possibly deadly. She blamed everything and everyone, for the way fate had treated her. She was the ultimate victim who deserved better without really knowing a way, other than trickery to get it.
On the other hand, we had Claire, a woman who seemed to have it all, money acclaim, notoriety, and unfortunately a husband who beat her. She is looking for an out, one that also involved trickery and lying. Disappear she thought and then through what she thought was chance, she got the opportunity to do just that. She seemed pretty clueless wandering about and I couldn’t help but think why doesn’t she just walk out the door, expose her husband, and find herself immersed in the #metoo movement. She seemed a capable woman but yet was she?
This book was readable, had short chapters, and flipped the scenes of these two women quickly. That was certainly a plus for me. On the other hand, the absolute lack of consequence in the thought process of Eva made for quite a despicable character that I could not get up an ounce of empathy for. There were many implausible scenes throughout, ones that got that eye rolling going, and of course made for a questionable response.
I have seen that many enjoyed this story but for me it was not one I see myself recommending. Jan and I shared once again our reading experience with this one and had quite similar thoughts and feelings. So once again, I find myself traipsing through the “I wish I had liked it better” category.