“I asked Cassandra if it was a pain not being contactable wherever she went, but she seemed to like it […] ‘Isn’t it a pain to always be contactable?’ she’d replied. ‘I mean, if someone can always get hold of you, how can you ever be free?’”
Richard Henley leads a very average and unremarkable life, three years divorced and living each day between his couch and his office desk. So when he starts finding strangely accurate notes in his own handwriting informing him of his impending death, life suddenly becomes very interesting. As Richard races through places he never knew existed, he discovers unpredictable allies, voraciously persistent enemies and the extremely fine line between right and wrong.
NOTE TO SELF gives a very clever social commentary, calling into question human technology and morals, casting a shadow on the perception of free will and the definition of ‘good’. Ward’s style is very fast paced, energetic and visual, conjuring the scenery and action vividly as I read.
There is a lot of science in this novel and while I felt a little lost at times, it drew me closer to Richard as we stumbled blindly through it all together. I learnt with him and after the half-way point I’d managed to absorb and organise all the new information just as well as Richard.
As an English student, I can’t say whether all the science and technicalities add up but it definitely sounded realistic to me. Most importantly, the sci fi element had rules, structures and limitations which made sense. Ward has put a lot of time into making Note to Self work and it shows.
The characters are all completely human, each one fully fleshed out with their own background and moral compass. It was great to see the detail that went into every character; no one was stereotyped or banished to one end of the good/bad spectrum which I particularly appreciated.
I think to talk about the plot in detail would be to give too much away. I really enjoyed discovering the surprises alongside Richard and want to afford the same pleasure to everyone else who wants to read this novel. However, I will say that the ideas are completely original (to me at least) and completely fascinating.
I genuinely enjoyed NOTE TO SELF. It raises a lot of questions and prods you into really thinking about the issues presented. In a way, it felt like a modern sci fi version of 1984. Released on 17th September 2013, I would definitely recommend picking up a copy of NOTE TO SELF!
I received NOTE TO SELF for free from the lovely people at Diversion Books. My reviews always represent my own honest opinion. Thank you to Chrissi Reads who reviewed this first and got me interested!