Book Review – Het Boek van Voorheen

Book: Het Boek van Voorheen by Jen Minkman
Release Date: April 29th 2016
Genre: Dystopia
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars



Thanks to Jen Minkman for this review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Dutch Synopsis

De zestienjarige Leia woont al sinds haar tiende in het landhuis en leidt daar een geïsoleerd leven, samen met de rest van de jongeren. Diep vanbinnen is ze altijd nieuwsgierig geweest naar wat er schuilt achter de Muur die het eiland in tweeën deelt.
Wanneer ze op een avond wegrent van Sol, hun wrede leider, ontmoet ze Walt, een van de Dwazen van achter de Muur. Hij vertelt een heel andere waarheid dan waarmee ze is opgegroeid. Wat blijft er nog over van haar wereld als de Muur uiteenvalt?

English Synopsis (loosely translated)

Sixteen year old Leia has lived in the manor since she was ten, and lives an isolated life with the other teens. She has always been curious about what is behind the Wall that divides their island.

When one night she runs away from their cruel leader, Sol, she meets Walt, one of the fools from behind the Wall. He tells her a different truth than the one she grew up with. What would remain of her world if the Wall would fall?


Choosing a rating can sometimes be the hardest part of reviewing for me. While I know exactly how I feel  and think about a book, there are sometimes conflicting things that make it hard to rate a book. And that is the exact problem I have with Het Boek van Voorheen.

The start of this book was great. The writing and plot were very solid. While somewhat confusing at the start, the ideas interested me and I got just enough information where I was drawn into the story. It was a mystery. Why was there a divide on the island? Was there more out there than just the island? And while I am usually not a big fan of dual first point of view, it didn’t bother me so much in this first half of the book. The chapters in Leia and Walt’s perspective were each clustered in about 3-4 chapters so I wasn’t constantly jolted out of one character at the ending of a chapter.  I got to slowly know the two main characters this way. The reference to a popular movie that plays a part in this book was also rather interesting.

However at about the second half of the book, where our two main characters finally meet, my interest started to waver. Two things are the main reason for this. One is that instead of the clustered chapters we now get one chapter in Leia’s perspective and the next in Walt’s and so on. It was a distinct change in writing style. So now I was being jolted out a little. The second point is the interaction between the two main characters. Their interaction feels incredibly forced, unnatural. The romance that appears doesn’t work for me for that reason.  I didn’t feel any forced interactions between Leia and those closest to her or between Walt and his family.

The book itself isn’t long. Not even 200 pages in the ebook format that I read. It feels a little rushed nearing the ending. With a bit more length this could have been fixed. Also it could have given a bit more depth in the interaction between the two main characters.

In her ending word the author tells us that this book was originally two novella’s she wrote in English that are now combined. Melting that in one book  is hard. To me it shows why I feel so conflicted about the two halves.

I really liked the first half and that would have been a solid 4 star rating for me.  But the second half doesn’t make me feel like that. However I am happy I have read this book and I know I will want to read some more by Jen Minkman.

The mentioned English novella description can be found on Goodreads here. It is however no longer available for purchase. 

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