Reviewed by Jenny & Gitte
Jenny: Well, if there was ever a book that dealt really well with second chance love then this was it, don’t you think G? Kaye and Samuel were soul mates. From very early on, you felt the bond and the love between these two implicitly.
I was continually asking myself at the beginning of this story, what could have possible gone wrong because Kaye and Samuel were so perfect for each other, they were so in sync, so in love that you couldn’t’ fathom what could have torn these two people apart.
‘For a moment, I was home – that perfect place everyone hunts for in music, and comfort food, and scents. Then, that perfect place slapped me with a goodbye letter and I remembered how he’d thrown this- me – away, with the callousness of a con artist.’ – Kaye
They really were like two missing pieces that became whole just being in the same room as each other. I was dying to find out what it was that tore their marriage apart, you were too weren’t you G?
Gitte: They truly were soul mates Jenny and I really felt for both of them individually and the bond, despite their distance, was never really broken. As a reader you really felt that connection, it was brilliantly written. You felt their love and their pain equally. So yeah I was dying to find out exactly why these two weren’t together anymore and this second chance love really was quite heart breaking.
“You want to earn my trust? Well, you’ve got to trust me back. When there’s no trust…nothing…”
Jenny: I did enjoy this second chance love story. It was beautifully written and I loved the way Samuel’s stories were intricately woven through Hydraulic Level Five. The bringing together of Samuel, the author, and Samuel the man was beautifully orchestrated and I was immersed in every moment.
‘How different a man he’d grown into, from the deep-feeling boy I’d once known.’
Samuel, a now famous author, was such a tortured man and oh how I loved him. His unravelling story broke my heart and I felt so much for this man and the demons he was carrying. Learning the cause of the careless and drastic decisions Sam made in his life really broke my heart. I know there were a few times I was in tears throughout this very poignant and moving story. Did you enjoy the way the author wove this story around Samuel’s storytelling Gitte?
Gitte: I have to say that Samuel completely got to me. His character was a bit of a mystery and yes, the Author wrote his character with such intrigue and emotion that I just fell in love and really felt so emotional over his character. It was pretty clear that Samuel was a troubled soul, who’d been through some bad stuff, he was needing to work through still. I have to admit though, that if it wasn’t for me wanting to find out exactly what had happened to Samuel consequently adding to the marriage break-up with Kaye I may not have enjoyed this story as much. Samuel kept me reading so kudos to the Author for writing a fantastic male hero who was both compelling and addictive.
Jenny: Yes, Sam was definitely the catalyst for me enjoying this as much as I did. For all intents and purposes, Kaye, the extreme sports junkie, seems to have moved on since the breakup of her marriage to Samuel, a man she had loved since she they were childhood sweethearts, some 7 years earlier. In fact, they both seem to be at a good place in their lives. But looks can be deceiving and when you scratch the surface and delve deep you find there is a lot of bitterness, pain and hurt over the ending of their marriage.
‘Instead, there was fire. And I hadn’t seen true fire there in a really long time. Not since….not since high school.’
Not to mention confusing. These two never really communicated or let their hurt surface. They both kept so much inside, so much pain that bringing it to the fore was always going to be difficult but necessary if they were ever going to find their way back to one another.
Gitte: I’m still in two minds over Kaye. I loved her spunk and zest for life by enjoying the extreme sports and the adrenalin rush that comes with it. She’s quietly vulnerable yet shows such strength. She was wronged and she had my complete sympathy, however, I struggled to get a handle on her. I’m thinking this was the intention as she has to work through her own issues in order to fully understand what happened to the love of her life and her marriage.
“Kaye! How is it possible that you can dive head-first into white water rapids and not bat an eye, but when it comes to having a friendly exchange with your ex-husband – who may I remind you, was your best friend for years – your feet freeze?”
Again, I loved the crux of their story together, the childhood, the memories, the intensity of their love and friendship.
Jenny: I adored the childhood flashbacks which cleverly introduced via Samuel’s story and I found Kaye’s voice to witty and entertaining. Kaye was strong yet vulnerable and I found a beauty and sadness in her that drew me to her. The banter between Samuel and Kaye and their friends brought fun and respite at a time when the story would feel heavy with emotion. It was the perfect balance.
‘Samuel had always been an amazing storyteller, and his words allowed me to see the places he’d seen.’
This was a beautifully told story of loving, letting go, communicating, of soul mates, friendship and I really did adore this book for that portion of the story. I have to say though G, that Hydraulic Level Five did at certain times become a bit bogged down with what felt like fillers to me and I thought parts of the story suffered because of it. For me, it seemed to stem from the amount of characters introduced, and the time spent on them rather than on Kaye and Samuel. I know that some of these characters formed and shaped Kaye and Samuel’s pasts, and these characters were necessary, but there were some characters who never really felt developed, and these had the tendency to drag the story at times which was a bit disappointing.
However, that can’t take away from what was a clever, beautiful and heart-warming, as well as heartbreaking story of two people finding their way back to each other. Yes, I really did enjoy this story. I just wish it could have focused more on Kaye and Samuel at the expense of some of the unnecessary fill ins. I’m so looking forward to rejoining them in Book Two and getting the closure I was hoping for in this one.
‘Her face is pure sunshine for him, warming his chest, searing the web of cracks closed. He will give her fairy tales, pages and pages of fairy tales, in exchange for her sunshine.’
Gitte: I have to say I absolutely LOVED all the scenes with Kaye and Samuel be they past or present, together or individually. I loved the idea of them trying to overcome their marriage break up step by step, trying to work back to how it all started when they were kids. Their banter and pranks made me laugh and I was so invested in these two characters. I loved Samuel, I just think he was amazingly written and I loved who Kaye became as the story moved on and she worked through some personal issues.
“He is also a poster child for order and logic. Chaos distresses him…But you, sweet child, are a messy whirlwind….”
For me though their story got somewhat lost at times amidst a sea of characters that in my opinion were unnecessary as many of them didn’t add anything to the story. Also, for a normal sized novel it felt really long, I think there were too many redundant fillers with secondary characters and at times I felt the urge to skim as the story dragged. Also, I felt confused over what was going on at certain points. As for the ending, well I was a bit disappointed, I have to say. I suppose in a way I felt as if I needed some kind of epilogue or perhaps for this to be just one book rather than a series. It was very abrupt and left me feeling frustrated. I will say though that the love I developed for Samuel and Kaye’s story and wanting them to be okay makes me really want to read the next book. I just hope it becomes about them and their love, first and foremost!
“Firecracker, he whispers, just to hear the sound of her name…”
Jenny: 4.0 stars
Gitte: 3.5 stars