The Sudden Appearance of Hope

The Sudden Appearance of Hope

Read Time: 3 Minutes

Another book by Claire North that I’ve been looking at in my wish list is “The Sudden Appearance of Hope”, and this week I’ve finally got around to giving it a listen. I’ve enjoyed both other books by North and this one also didn’t disappoint. Like the others, the protagonist has a unique ability that sets them apart from most everyone else around them. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August had someone who was reborn upon death to relive his life. Touch had a protagonist who could swap bodies at will.

In “The Sudden Appearance of Hope”, Hope Arden is someone the world forgets. While you’re looking at her and interacting with her you can remember her but lose sight of her for a few moments and she’s gone from your memory. Using this to her advantage, Hope has gone on to become a master thief – utterly lonely and amoral, for the most part, but incredible at what she can pull off.

Hope becomes entangled with a sinister app called Perfection, which promises users the ability to achieve their ideal selves. It’s a gamified app that sounds like something you could download from the app store today. Users are rewarded with points and freebies when they meet the app’s definition of “Perfection”… Sure, you only have to give it access to literally everything in your life, but you’ll be good looking and popular. I can imagine half the world signing up in a heartbeat.

So begins the chase. Keeping ahead of Interpol and others who want her dead because while you can’t remember talking to her, video footage tells another story. Digital footprints left behind, and the dawning realisation that there’s always someone who can’t be remembered at the scene of a crime.

While I enjoyed the premise, the story and the characters, at sixteen and a half hours long it felt a little long winded. For the most part, the story itself was fine, but there’s a character trait of Hope as the narrator where she keeps giving dictionary definitions on any random thing she’s doing. Sometimes it feels like North just copy/pasted synonyms direct from the thesaurus or from encyclopedias. It doesn’t feel like exaggeration to say the runtime could have been cut in half had all that nonsense been left out.

The narration by Gillian Burke was okay, nothing memorable (ha!). Production was good with no noticeable background noises or production issues like retakes or the like. I did notice a couple of what I suspect were mispronounced words or malapropisms as their usage didn’t fit the sentence.

So for my money, it’s more than a straightforward thriller; “The Sudden Appearance of Hope” is a little more philosophical and introspective as there’s a lot of focus on Hope’s internal struggles with who she is and her place in the world. A deeply human protagonist and a cutting critique on contemporary society, mixed up with a technothriller plot and speculative science fiction.

Will I give this another listen? Most likely, but not for some time. While I did enjoy it, I didn’t enjoy it as much as North’s other works I have. I did enjoy the story though, but I think I’d need some between listens.


Science Fiction, Contemporary, Technothriller, Supernatural Thriller, Female Narrator, Female Protagonist
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