Published by Berkley Publishing on December 1, 2020
Source: the publisher via NetGalley
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Rachel has always put family first—her three children are the center of her world. So when a mysterious and deadly flu takes its toll on children around the world, she is immensely grateful that none of her three suffered a terrible fate—especially her son, Billy, who was infected.
But there’s something off about Billy upon his recovery. He won’t stop talking about his new friend, Delfy. At first, Rachel shrugs it off—all children have imaginary friends at one point or another, don’t they? But soon, Billy isn’t behaving like the sweet little boy Rachel knows him to be. He becomes increasingly violent—and he tells his mother that Delfy is to blame. Soon, Rachel can’t help but wonder if her little boy is dealing with something much more malicious than an ordinary imaginary pal….
As Delfy’s influence becomes perilous, Rachel must choose between protecting Billy, and protecting the rest of her family —even if the consequences tear them apart.
I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I took a chance on something different and I really liked it! We Hear Voices by Evie Green is largely the story of a young boy named Billy and his mother. As the story begins, Billy is near death from the flu, which has been raging as a deadly pandemic. Billy ends up surviving. As he gains his strength after recovering, it becomes clear that Billy now has an imaginary friend named Delfy. Whether or not this imaginary friend came to Billy during his illness or immediately after is not really that important to his mother, because all she cares about is that he survived. At first, everyone passes Delfy off as a harmless way to cope with near-death, but it soon becomes clear that Delfy may be a bigger deal than anyone anticipated.
In choosing to read We Hear Voices, I took a chance on something a little different and it ended up paying off. Yes, the pandemic in the story has some eerie similarities to the one we are currently experiencing and I wondered how it would feel to read something like that during this time. But the details of the pandemic aren’t the big part of the story here, and I was easily able to separate the story-pandemic from the real life one we have going on.
Billy is essentially a “creepy kid” in this story, and the addition of the imaginary friend really amps that up. Some of the things Billy says and does are darn right horrifying, but it is when he begins to blame Delfy for these big, bad actions and words that the tension and suspense begins to build. I loved the sense of foreboding that I felt the entire way through the story, like something dreadful was about to happen on the next page.
My favorite part of the story was Billy’s mother, Rachel. Rachel has a lot of hard stuff going on in her life while Billy is sick and then recovering. The family has been hit hard economically by the pandemic, and there are three kids in the family in total-not just Billy. When Billy’s issues begin, Rachel throws herself headfirst into caring for him, during his sickness and during all of the craziness that happens after. Her stress is palpable on the pages. She cannot think of anything besides making sure that her child (children, really) are okay. She is desperate for most of the story, and I love the way that really came through to me as I was reading. Her desperation was a living, breathing thing, and I feel like it may have been the most real and true thing about this story. I connected with her emotionally as a mother, caretaker, and provider. I could almost put myself in her situation, trying to juggle everything while also being willing to get into some trouble to protect her child. The tension and suspense were already there in the story, but Rachel made it great.
So, yeah, this was a fun read. Definitely a distraction when the real world outside seems to be more and more stressful by the day. The world in We Hear Voices doesn’t exist, but it is close enough that we can almost imagine it. You almost have the ability to forget that this is a sci-fi/dystopian story sometimes with the way the world is written, and I think that made the story quite good. The way the big reveals come out in the end may be a little quick for some readers, but I enjoyed them and I couldn’t have predicted that ending!
We Hear Voices will be released in the US on December 1, 2020.