I wasn't feeling the love through much of Nobody Is Ever Missing. I thought the premise of Catherine Lacey's debut novel sounded enthralling, but the story was anything but. Without telling her family, our protagonist, Elyria, journeys half way around the world and wanders New Zealand. The potential for character development and crafting a beautiful setting was certainly there, but much of the novel takes place in flashbacks of Elyria's past. I was disappointed, trudging slowly through the novel's landscape.
At some point, in the last half, the novel clicked for me. I still thought it was slow and certainly not what I wanted from it, but the beauty of the language and the grittiness of Elyria's journey settled in. I may have not been enraptured with Elyria's trek itself, but I was with her character: her strength and weakness, her drive and her lack of direction, her passion and her callousness—she became very real. The language used to take the reader through Elyria's various mental states is vivid, breathtaking, and original. At times, the metaphors overreach, but these moments are few, especially in the novel's concluding chapters where the ride becomes more fast paced and psychological.
Given my initial reaction, I'm quite surprised I enjoyed this one as much as I did. Certainly, it is not the captivating, plot-driven novel many readers are seeking, but in the end, Nobody Is Ever Missing is a well told story of one woman's crisis of mind. Through not quite as lyrical as some poetic prose, I'd say this one will resonate more with readers of poetry than with hardcore fans of story.