Disclaimer: I received a free ARC of Call Me Evie from Netgalley in Exchange for an HONEST review
Call Me Evie is the debut novel from Melbourne writer J.P. Pomare. Pomare isn’t new to the literary world. He has spent three years producing and hosting the “On Writing” podcast and has contributed to a variety of Australian publications.
Kate Bennett is missing her memory.
Jim tells her that he is her protector. She did something bad – something terrible. The police are searching for them, so they must stay safe until she can remember. For now, he wants to protect her from the police and the prying eyes of the media. To do so, they flee Melbourne, taking refuge in a small New Zealand town where Jim introduces Kate to the locals as his troubled niece, Evie.
Each night before Jim locks her away, he runs through a list of questions, probing Kate’s memory. They can’t return to Melbourne until she remembers exactly what happened.
“Everything I see, everything I experience has been filtered through Jim.”
J.P. Pomare, Call Me Evie
Despite Jim’s claims that he has Kate’s best interests in mind, she doesn’t trust him – or anyone else. The only thing Kate is certain of? She needs to escape.
Pomare uses Kate’s amnesia to its full potential as a plot device. Her lack of certainty and unwillingness to admit things to herself and others creates an excellent unreliable narrator.
As the story unfolds in first-person, the reader lives it as Kate does, knowing only what she knows, and what she chooses to tell. Call Me Evie is an excellent entry into the list of ‘unreliable narrator’ novels.
The psychological aspects of Call Me Evie are not understated. Cleverly, Pomare has split the novel into parts, each part beginning with a psychological question.
“In the past month, how much time have you spent thinking you will not live a long life?
0 – none; 1 – a little; 2 – some; 3 – much; 4 – most”
J.P. Pomare, Call Me Evie
From this first intriguing question, Call Me Evie barrels into a quickly-paced plot with compelling writing and clever twists. The story alternates between Kate and Jim’s escape to New Zealand and the lead up to the life-altering event in Melbourne, until the finale when each thread is skilfully stitched together.
Pomare has used his experience living in New Zealand to paint a realistic portrait of the beautiful Bay of Plenty. His comparisons between the relaxed New Zealand atmosphere and the hustle and bustle of busy Melbourne also work in the novel’s favour. While a horrendous crime seems likely in Melbourne, the harbouring of international fugitives in a sleepy New Zealand town seems equally unlikely.
Call Me Evie also showcases Pomare’s skill for dialogue. Each character has their own way of speaking, but where Pomare really shines is in his portrayal of the differences between Australian and New Zealand speech and cadence.
For anybody who has visited this region of New Zealand, the locals are instantly recognisable, from their pattern of speech to the local slang. Pomare’s convincing cast of characters adds another fascinating layer to Call Me Evie.
Pomare’s crafting of settings, characters, dialogue, and plot creates a compelling, fast-paced psychological story a step above the cookie-cutter standard. He has penned a dark and twisted look into memory, truth, and trust. Call Me Evie is a psychological thriller that will have you hooked until the final pages.
With a publication date of March 5th, 2019, Call Me Evie will undoubtedly be on many “must read” lists into the new year, and for good reason. If you’re a fan of psychological thrillers make sure to pick this one up, and expect to see more talk J.P. Pomare.
Why Read This Book?
- Female main character
- Debut novel
- Unreliable narrator
- Compelling Plot
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Call Me Evie
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