Book Review: Retrograde by Kat Hausler

I got this book an an early review copy!!

So I went into this without having read a synopsis (which is how I go in to a lot of books I read) and about 1/4 of the way in I was still trying to figure out exactly what’s going on. It’s easy enough to read, a bit meandering, but right up until the end I was thinking ‘what is the actual point of this??’

The story centres on two characters, Joachim and Helena, and is told in an alternating fashion between them. Once they were married, but they’ve been living apart without contact for several years when Helena gets hit by a truck and suffers severe injuries including a good case of amnesia. She can’t remember the separation, or anything else about the last few years and Joachim sees this as his opportunity to play the hero; his second chance at marriage.

Then there’s a fair bit of waffling, a lot of lies, deception and lack of communication as Helena strives to remember the recent past and Joachim strives to hide it from her. I didn’t get this whole section, there’s this menacing gothic undertone and the claustrophobia of Helena stuck in their apartment with no access to the outside world, but it’s terribly unrealistic- she’s in a block of flats, she could just go next door to use their phon any time. Or you know, scream about being kidnapped until someone rang the police. She’s a limp character who is complicit in all the wrong Joachim is doing, simply because of her passive acceptance of it.

Spoiler alert: they don’t end up together, and it’s the only saving grace of the book. Give retrograde a go if you like books that have a little suspense but aren’t crime thrillers. You could easily read this in a day (with much head shaking) and it’s sweetly written, there’s just not much there to redeem the characters and the story line is at best flat and monotonous (yes we understand Joachim is stressed and Helena is bored, you don’t need to repeat it every three pages) and at worst, inelegant and waffling.

2/5 stars.

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