*I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley, with thanks to the author and publishers. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Nova is 32 years old and she is about to see the world for the very first time.
Jillian Safinova, Nova to her friends, can do many things. She can speak five languages. She can always find a silver lining. And she can even tell when someone is lying just from the sound of their voice.
But there’s one thing Nova can’t do. She can’t see.
When her brother convinces her to have an operation that will restore her sight, Nova wakes up to a world she no longer understands. Until she meets Kate.
As Kate comes into focus, her past threatens to throw them into a different kind of darkness. Can they each learn to see the world in a different … and open their eyes to the lives they could have been living all along?
The Rules of Seeing is about the actual ‘art’ of seeing, but even more so it is about our interpretations of what we see.
Obviously our brains take the external stimuli perceived by our senses, but Joe Heap asks the questions about how our brains then translate or interpret the information, and how we shape it into stories in order to fit it into our view of life. When our brains cannot form those stories in a way we can live with then problems ensue. Problems of the kind that both Nova and Kate face here.
Nova is no longer able to understand the world as she has lived in it all her life, and is having to learn it all anew, and the blow to Kate’s head has also blown her perceptions out of perspective. Whilst both women can technically ‘see’, they are unable to comprehend what it is that they are seeing and can therefore no longer navigate their previous lives.
This story also asks the question about whether we are better with the devil we know, or whether the leap into the unknown is worth the inherent risks. The dark and light are woven together beautifully, making the story in turns sad, joyous, tense and terrifying.
Whilst mostly a mixture of romance and self-discovery, there is an element of suspense and thriller to the plot, that revolves around some very distressing domestic abuse (definitely a trigger warning here). This storyline is handled sensitively and is utterly chilling.
Between the lurking danger and the fascination of Nova’s gradual development of skills, plus one of the loveliest romantic connections I’ve read (love the depiction of day-to-day relationship joy as well as the big romantic gestures) this novel was completely unputdownable and one of my favourites this year.
‘Most people think of blindness as darkness.’
‘I know. But you can see black and white, and red in good light…’
‘No, that’s not what I mean.’ Her hands form shapes in front of her, which Alex guesses are supposed to convey hesitation, or thought. ‘People think of blindness as binary, as an on-or-off switch. Either you can see or you’re blind, right?’
‘I… guess so.’
‘But it’s a spectrum. Even if you can see, you can only see a tiny portion of all the light that’s really there. Did you know that? I’ve always found that comforting, in a stupid way. It’s cool.’
Alex says nothing. He’s looking at his sister, in her biker jacket and I Want to Believe T-shirt, wondering how she can still infuriate him this much, after all these years.
– Joe Heap, The Rules of Seeing
The Rules of Seeing is available to buy on Amazon right now!