And ‘snowflakes’ people an uneven follow-up
have been a suicide after all, his curiosity is piqued. His narrative is dominated by a desire to find out exactly what happened to Ned Sweeney all those years ago.
While Under The Night does have some merit, the novel is hindered by a number of issues.
The greatest of these is the double-perspective narrative itself. It quickly becomes clear that Ned’s narrative is far more interesting than Ray’s. This is compounded by the fact that Ray as a character feels forced and underdeveloped, and ultimately serves as more of a tool to unspool Ned’s story than anything else.
As the novel approaches its end, Ray’s chapters become a major hindrance, and end up feeling like a distraction from the main event.
Other characters in the novel also suffer from poor development.
While Ned is a relatively interesting character, his wife, Laura, is shallow and only ever exists on the novel’s periphery. By the end of the novel, it becomes clear that she is a plot convenience rather than a character in her own right.
Similarly, Ray’s love interest, Molly, is particularly hollow, and seems to only exist to give the novel its romantic sub-plot. Their relationship may well be the novel’s weakest moment. Neither are particularly interesting characters to begin with, which means that their relationship is ultimately mundane. It doesn’t help that Molly seems to exist only as a cliche of a young person. At one point, she even refers to herself and her younger colleagues as “snowflakes” and expresses shock at what she sees as “old-school” alcoholism.
The novel’s ending is also dis- appointing. After over 300 pages — some of which could have been trimmed down to create a leaner, more taut novel — the reader is given a fairly unsubstantial conclusion with few real answers.
That isn’t to say that Under The Night is all bad. The novel is sometimes gripping and there is an appeal to Ned’s chapters.
Unfortunately, much of the enjoyment is dulled by frustrating plot developments, poor characters and a challenging narrative technique.