Nothing is Ever Going to Be the Same: Joy and Ülrika Chat About Marisha Pessl

Joy: I’m here with Ülrika, our gift buyer. We are discussing Neverworld Wake, by Marisha Pessl!

Marisha is coming to the store on June 12, so we’re all really really really excited about that. It was Ülrika who put Night Film in my hands, which is her previous, wonderful (enormous) novel. So Ülrika was really excited to talk about Neverworld Wake with me. There’s so much we can’t give away, or we would let you know exactly what happens!

Ülrika, If you were selling this to me, what would you give me as the four-sentence pitch?

Ülrika: Here we go:

A group of high school friends. Tragedy strikes. The group — as far as you know — splinters. The main character, Beatrice, separates herself, and you know the characters are not speaking. They’re brought together on one of the character’s birthdays, when Beatrice’s boyfriend jim has died under somewhat mysterious circumstances. And nothing is ever going to be the same.

I read this book in two sittings. I loved it.

JP: I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but the title has a few hints: Wake definitely has a double meaning, referring to the wake after a funeral, but also the idea of waking up. And Neverworld is this other, mysterious, magical place they end up stuck in. Whether they get out or not, or figure out the rules of this world, even, remains to be seen.

Ülrika, what were some of your thoughts?

ÜM: I loved it! I was pleasantly surprised. I am not a person who typically reads a lot of YA, and as you said, I gave you Night Film

JP: — Which, by the way, is creeping me out and making my heart race.

ÜM: told you not to read it at night!

JP: The one thing you said is don’t read it at night. I started it at midnight, and I thought to myself, damn it…

ÜM: I’ve been waiting and waiting for Neverworld Wake. I found out that her new book was going to be a YA novel, and I remember emailing you and saying “do you have the advance copy?” I was pleased because it doesn’t “feel” like a YA novel. If you’ve read any of her previous books, the pacing is still there with Never World Wake. There’s still an element of “what’s-gonna-happen” suspense.

You’re not on the same level of creepiness as Night Film, though.

JP: It’s definitely a little gentler.

ÜM: But the pacing is still there!

JP: Although there were a couple moments where she referenced a particular cult. It’s an underground book one of the characters loves that isn’t actually sold anywhere. You had to read it and leave it somewhere, where someone else would pick it up and find it.

ÜM: It plays a very big part of the book, though you don’t realize it until the end.

JP: Also, I could argue with you about how YA definitely has adult-like pacing, but that’s not our subject for today. *laughs*

ÜM: One of the things we talked about the other day that we both admired about this is that the scenario that sends them into Neverworld is set up very fast and immediately, and there’s no bones about it. In terms of what seems to be happening, it pretty much jump-starts. Each of the characters has to come to terms with what’s going on, and each one has a backstory.

JP: Did you have a favorite character?

ÜM: The character I ended up coming around to was Martha, who’s pretty brilliant scientifically. By the end I felt a sense of connection. All the characters are really well developed, and how they relate to one another is very interesting. They’re all best friends, but they also have really complicated relationships with each other.

JP: And they have this sort of private school sensibility. There was somewhat of a similar feel to Tradition, by Brendan Kiely, though they’re completely different books. That very clubby world where everyone has these cloying nicknames for each other…. Beatrice, the main character, is the one who everyone calls “Sister B.” She’s the “Good Girl.”

I kind of wanted to be adopted by her parents at certain points.

ÜM: *laughs*

Because these characters were friends through high school, I think there’s a certain bond that grew, having been through four years of school together. They were the “It Kids,” though they each have a different personality that makes the group really interesting.

JP: Even what happens when they’re in Neverworld — which we can’t give away! — was so fascinating to me. The way the world works is pretty mysterious, and they all handle it in different ways.

ÜM: what i loved about it is that you had this sense of repetition in the plot line, but also there are a lot of alliances shifting between the characters. The language is so great. There is so much suspicion, and so many moments of unspoken dialogue where you know something’s happening but you don’t know what.

JP: They all have secrets that they don’t know about each other, because that’s just human nature. It leaves you wondering what you would do if you were thrust into a magical place like this! You know that ultimately, even if they’re working as a team, each one has their own intention. Not everyone can handle the thought that they’re in such a strange place.

ÜM: The sense of creepiness is so great.

JP: There were some great moments that were really pulse-racing. And it gets scarier through the book!

ÜM: I read this book so quickly, and I did so with Night Film, too… I read that book in three days. I felt like I had to know more, with both of them!

JP: So basically, we love the book.

ÜM: We love the book!

JP: Last but not least, I want to end with this great quote from near the end: 

‘We are all anthologies. we are each thousands of pages long filled with fairy tales and poetry, mysteries and tragedies, forgotten stories in the back no one will ever read. the most we can do is hold out our hands and help each other across the unknown.”


Marisha Pessl joins us for an event at Brazos Bookstore on June 12. Reserve your copy of Neverworld Wake below.

Neverworld Wake Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780399553929
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Delacorte Press - June 5th, 2018

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