When the World was Flat (and we were in love)

When the World Was Flat (and we were in love) - Ingrid Jonach (I received an ebook version of this novel through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)

This being an ARC, I won't comment on grammar and editing.

I've got very, very mixed feelings on that one. On the one hand, the premise of the story was really intriguing; I like such stories of "previous lives", especially if they're tied to something else than supernatural causes (the blurb clearly mentioned sci-fi, which for me is yet another different matter). On the other hand, once I was done reading, I felt somewhat "cheated" out of more detailed developments.

Basically, the first half of the book (until approximately the 45% mark) deals with classic high school/teenager drama, and this was my first problem with it. It was awfully full of stereotypes: the jocks, the Mean Queen Bee, the not-cool-girls lumped together, the mysterious handsome and three times chiseled new student at school, along with a lot of slut shaming of one of Lillie's friends (including by her own friends and Lillie herself, in a somewhat underhanded way). This was too much, and lasted way too long. I was on the verge of stopping reading when finally things kicked into the sci-fi part. And here's the second problem for me: how little the sci-fi aspect actually played in, and how wonky it seemed by comparison. I honestly believe it would have deserved more: more exposure, more explanation, more science. This could have been fascinating, as well as able to enforce the tragic aspect of the revelations that ensued. As it was, though, it left room to a few plot holes as to how exactly things came out to be the way they were: the reasons behind the crash, how the Solution was found, or how far the Circle's power extends. Those felt overlooked, and science used as an excuse, in favour of the high school drama setting.

There are interesting things in this book, things that are also logical. The suffocating small town syndrome, where everything quickly becomes rumour and is blown out of proportion. How things seem to be doomed to entangle and collide. Lillie's dreams, what they really mean, and why some people were drawn towards making such choices. The sliding and merging. How the three girls begin as distinct personalities, each with their quirks, defects and redeeming points. The ending, too, I liked a lot; it gave closure to the story, while hinting nonetheless at more possibilities (a sequel, perhaps?). But I can't shake up the feeling that "When the World was Flat..." could've been so much more, and that this "more" got swallowed by too-conventional tropes. To be honest, I would've given it 3 stars if not for that—and even 4 if it had dealt with the sci-fi aspect in a better way.