Genre: Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5/5 stars
Imagine radiant, colourful fireworks exploding in your chest.
They leave only ribbons of tattered flesh and a pool of blood. The pain is unbearable, but when they exploded, the sight was so beautiful it left you speechless, and thus you don't harbor any regrets. When Hurt and Art mingle, in a way that makes you feel alive in your nerves and in your cells, the explosion seems like a fair price. A price I willingly paid when I read Uncharted.
With Uncharted Julie Johnson does the unthinkable, and writes a book based on the fictional movie within her The Monday Girl and The Someday Girl duet. She narrates the story of Violet, a girl who tried to take a break from the dull life she was meant to lead in her small town by accepting a job that would lead her to South Pacific for the summer. But Fate had other plans. Her plane crushed and she ended up stranded on a uninhabited island, having as her only company an unconscious and gravely injured flight attendant and him. B. Underwood. Beck. The gruffy, broody photographer that ignited an unprecedented fire that burned and ravaged everything she knew, everything she was until the moment she met him. When she crash-landed on the island, she thought her story was over. Turns out, it was about to begin.
“Do I even want a love like that? The kind that burns so bright, you spend the rest of your life blinking away sun spots, half-blind from the experience?”
Uncharted was the tenth book from Julie Johnson I read, and while I feel like I've run out of praise that does her justice, my fingers are itching to try nonetheless. What I admire most about her, is that with her, the idea of the story doesn't matter. Give her the most absurd or the most used concept. She will work her magic, and create something soul-gripping that makes your body reverberate with its heavenly melody. Plotwise, Uncharted was a rather simple book; a girl and a man trying to survive after a plane crush. But in respect of character development, inner thoughts and feelings, it was a sweeping tornado.
Our lives can be uncharted. The compass is broken, the northen lights guiding to happiness, to belonging, to home, extinguished. We wander aimless, looking for a sign, a harbor, and the heart craves what the mind is too stubborn and afraid to deliver. Some other times we desire uncharted. We feel like our deadly weight constricts our lungs, our path is predetermined by other factors, like social expectations, or parents, and a trip outside this suffocating path is the most wanted deliverance. But once you taste deliverance, and the intoxicating feeling of carving your own way, you can't go back. You have savored the most exquisite wine, how could you return to drinking water? If you have gazed at the sun, how can you settle with candle light? Beck falls into the first category. Violet into the second. And eventually, they collide.
“You have given me purpose, blinded me with light in a world that once held only darkness. You have altered my life in a way I never expected. And I don't know how to go back.”
Uncharted is a richly emotional, deliciously sensual novel, laced with thought-provoking pondering on contemporary society, on the desires and fears and needs of a girl that turns into a woman suddenly and rathe brutally. It's a journey to self-discovery, through bloody feet, silent tears, dehydrated and sunburned skin. Through loss and despair. Through powerful, all-consuming connection to another human being. The struggle to survive forged an unlikeable bond between Beck and Violet. But the way they were branded on each others' soul was something else. Their love helped them grow up. Face the truth about their past selfs, and bring to surface the new, wisest ones, the ones with the courage to survive storms, and fight for strangers, and gather coconuts, and admit the most embarassing weaknesses. There was something oddly comforting in the way Violet hurt for Beck. It reminded of all the times we felt like our feelings aren't reciprocated, or the impediments disastrous, but we couldn't hush the tempest of emotions that overwhelmed us. The tension is magnetic. The atmosphere between them humming with electricity. And even though their love is foebidden, even though there are various reasons to keep them apart, Violet fights for them. And through her, Beck finds the courage to fight as well. They're both flawed, stubborn and selfish. But they're also brave, and strong, and together, they shape and reshape their present, dreaming and dreading the future.
“Never stop fighting, Violet. Nothing in this world worth having comes without some sort of struggle.”
Uncharted was different and brilliant in its own way, and I can't help but commend Julie Johnson for experimenting and not resting on her laurels. She broke my heart piece by piece, but then she offered me the remedy, the salve to my raw wounds. And she fueled me with emotions and images so vivid, that will keep me company for a while. Do not hesitate to grab Uncharted and take off for destinations unknown, that will touch you to the core!
*ARC generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*