The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North

The Sudden Appearance of Hope: WINNER OF THE WORLD FANTASY AWARD 2017 by [North, Claire]

What sort of novel is it?

Imagine someone had a quality that meant everyone forgot them completely immediately after meeting them. What would their life be like? Think about it, no, really, think about it. Couple that with near future amplification of a self-monitoring digital culture that feeds into a self perfecting drive, and there you have it. The Sudden Appearance of Hope.

You’ll like it if you enjoy:

  • Dave Egger’s The Circle
  • near future imaginings of social media culture, such as Charlie Brooker’s Dark Mirror
  • subtle dystopias

Not for you if:

  • You need to like your protagonist
  • You can’t cope with works that expose the horrifying banality of existence
  • You’re uncomfortable with white writers having narrators who are black

What’s it about, then?

Our narrator and protagonist, Hope, is a young mixed race British woman. She becomes forgettable at 16. This closes most of life’s doors to her – jobs, study, relationships, family, friendships. Even her parents forget who she is.

It is, however, ideal for being an international jewel thief, which is the path she chooses. Being beautiful also helps.

Hope discovers that the international super-rich subscribe to a service called Perfection. This uses your digital media feeds to understand and ‘perfect’ you, physically and psychologically. Hope finds this a loathsome concept, but thinks it might cure her special, unwanted quality.

Broader themes

The de-humanising nature of being constantly re-fashioned by your social media feeds is connected with the idea that our identity rests largely on what we are in the memories of others.

This is one unsettling novel. You’ll shudder at the mention of Fitbit for days after you’ve finished it and it’ll put you right off Twitter. Maybe even for hours.



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