A Chick Lit With Mystery: “One Hundred Names” By Cecelia Ahern

Posted on January 25, 2013

By Upasana Sharma: 

Imagine getting a list of 100 unheard names, by a mentor and friend, just before his or her death, with a promise that it’s a story that he or she wanted to write, but could not. The latest offering by Cecelia Ahern has this very situation as its backdrop. It’s a situation that is bound to raise any ones intrigue, but does the book live up to the expectations it raises in your mind. Read on to find out.

one hundred names

Storyline: Kitty Logan is a journalist destroyed by a scandal of her own making. She loses her job. Her boyfriend moves out. She has lost the trust of everyone including herself except Constance Dubious her proverbial friend, philosopher and guide. During a conversation in the hospital where Constance in admitted as she suffers from a life threatening disease, Kitty asks her “What is the one story that you always wanted to write, but couldn’t for whatever reasons?” In reply of which Constance guides her to a package, which when Kitty opens, finds a list of 100 names. Given her relationship with Constance and due to the circumstances, Kitty walks on a journey to unravel the story behind these 100 names, none of which she is familiar with. How she manages to find, if at all, the persons behind these names and what was the story that Constance wanted to write, the answer to these questions form the remaining part of the book.

The Good: Cecelia Ahern’s books come under what you can call the chick lit category and she has always stayed true to it, which does not change with this book too. The book has a very interesting premise. As a reader you want to follow up and know what happens ahead. That is what works in the favour of the book of the time. It raises your curiosity. The unravelling of the significance of those names and the story that Constance means for Kitty to discover is what keeps one going from page to page. The characters are well etched. One can relate to them and see what keeps them going. Especially Kitty Logan, the protagonist. The flow of conversations between characters is very good. A special mention needs to be given to the cover page of the book, which is very attractive and can make one pick up the book easily.

The Bad: Considering the USP of the book is the curiosity the premise raises in the reader, it turns out to be a disappointment that Kitty Logan only interacts closely with 6 of those names. Also, one can feel sometimes that some places are over emphasised and some are rushed. Especially the ending. It all becomes too predictable by the end. It seems as if all the loose ends have been tied up neatly to avoid any open endings. That acts against the USP of the book. Having read a few of the previous works of the author, the descriptive writing style seems a tad bit lacking at places. The story too seems to feel directionless sometimes. After having finishing the book, it seems like the build up on a brilliant idea isn’t quite what it could have been. The book doesn’t live up to the hopes its basic premise builds up. The characters, though well etched, are not the kind to stay with you long after the book is finished.

My Two Cents: The book has its hits and misses. Much like the leading character who is a flawed woman seeking redemption. One could pass it off as a sappy and fluffy chick lit or see it as much more. The book has the potential to make one believe that everyone out there has a story. It is about noticing what lies beneath the surface. You might find yourself a little more aware of how your actions affect those around you. You might find yourself inspired by the character’s strength and her relentless efforts towards redemption. You might end up telling yourself it is alright to make mistakes, all you can do is dust yourself and move on or to quote the author “Chin up, don’t smile, don’t cry, don’t fall, walk.” The book on the whole doesn’t have too much to remember but the story has enough emotional depth and originality that it leaves you feeling good. To add to this combination, it has mystery but without the crime!

My Verdict: Worth a read!