Every once in a while, I (re)discover an author whose writing I fall in love with and suddenly, I’m down a rabbit hole desperate to read absolutely everything they’ve ever written. My first literary encounter with John Boyne was back in 2013 when I read The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas. It was so incredibly well written and emotional that it left a lingering sadness for a few days before I felt ready to pick up another book. Since joining bookstagram, I’ve read a variety of different books and one I was recommended continuously was The Hearts Invisible Furies, another novel by John Boyne. It was one of the books that had sat around on my GoodReads To Be Read list for too long and in August, decided to buy a copy. I devoured the book and again, was left with what we bookworms call a book hangover. I couldn’t bring myself to start something new because my heart was still so emotionally invested in Cyril Avery’s life and I was devastated it was over. For me, that is a sign of a good writer, and only a handful have had this effect on me. The hunt for another book was on, and I noticed that John Boyne had released a new novel – A Ladder To The Sky. Deciding to opt for his latest offering than go back to his older work, I couldn’t wait to read this.
“There are people who will sacrifice anyone and anything to get ahead, after all.”
The quote above sums up the entire plot of the book. We follow our main protagonist Maurice Swift, an insanely handsome young man with a huge desire to be an accomplished author. When we are first introduced to him, he is a young boy working as a waiter in a hotel in Berlin when he has a chance encounter with Erich Ackermann – an accomplished, well-respected author with a prestigious literary award under his belt. Erich, who is attracted to Maurice but has no other intention other than companionship, invites him to join his upcoming book tour which spans across Europe. Maurice jumps at the chance to be taken under Erich’s wing and finally, become emersed in the industry he has always dreamed of joining. As Erich begins to open up, Maurice seizes the opportunity for his own personal gain and uses his experience as a gateway to his own literary success.
The rest of the novel centres around the web of deception, destruction and ruthlessness that Maurice inflicts to become an accomplished, famous author. With similar vibes to The Talented Mr Ripley, Maurice Swift is a twisted character that chills you to the bone. We see him through several characters POVs throughout the book, including his own but are still left with absolutely no empathy towards him as a person.
John Boyne is a master of his craft. Not only is his writing style absolutely impeccable but his ability to craft characters in the way that he does is flawless. He can switch from making you feel sympathetic, intrigued and enraged from one paragraph to the next. His ability to evoke so many different emotions is why he is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. It was paced well, and although I’ve seen other bloggers describe the ending as rushed, I personally found it more than satisfying.
Overall, this is yet another book from John Boyne that has left me infatuated with his writing and find myself looking to read another piece of his work fairly soon. It is an exceptional story of the lengths some people will go to achieve their dreams showing zero remorse for the misery they inflict in getting to the top. It is exceptionally well written, and although Maurice’s next move was at times predictable, I was still fascinated by the execution of his deviance. This novel is well deserving of glowing reviews and one I will be recommending for weeks to come.