Wednesday, January 10, 2024

The Vacation

The Vacation by John Marrs
  The Vacation
Author:  John Marrs
Publication Information:  Hanover Square Press. 2023. 464 pages.
ISBN:  1335013253 / 978-1335013255

Rating:   ★★★

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley and a publisher's blog tour free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "'That's her,' the driver yelled to the three men waiting in the rear of the transit van."

Favorite Quote:  "I see it like this - people are like the tide. Some come into your life and bring things you'll only need for a short time, and others will bring things you'll carry forever. But some are just destined to disappear beneath the waves."

***** BLOG TOUR *****


Tommy. Nicole. Eric. Jake. Matty. Declan. Ron. Peyk. Ruth. Savannah. Jane. 

Northampton, England. Victoria, Australia. London, England. Montgomery, Alabama. Navan, Ireland.

Different people from different places and different walks of life all converge upon the Venice Beach International Hostel. Ron owns it. Peyk is just there. Tommy lives and works there. The rest are backpackers staying in this somewhat decrepit, definitely not up to code hostel. 

Some of the book represents the transient, backpacking lifestyle:
  • "Recently, she had begun allowing herself to imagine what it must feel like to live for the moment - to wake up and not have your day mapped out in front of you; to go where you pleased; to meet new people from all walks of life and to absorb sights most people only witness in TV documentaries."
  • "How long do you stay in each place? It depends. I travel by three rules - never outstay your welcome; always leave them wanting more; disappear when no one's looking."
  • "And only when you allow the warmth of new experiences to fill your heart will you truly realize how precious a gem your life is."
The transient nature of the traveller's is captured in the original title of this book, Welcome to Wherever You Are, upon first publication in 2015. The book still contains and explains that title. "What does Welcome to Wherever You Are mean? It means that it doesn't matter where you are, just as long as you're somewhere." To me, the original is a more apt title for this story as for so many, this is a lifestyle not a vacation. In this case, for many, it is an escape from their lives and most definitely not a vacation as they struggle to survive and outrun their own pasts.

With John Marrs subsequent success, that title is now being re-released as a new title. The premise of this book is this coincidental meetup of people at a traveling juncture. However, no one here is quite who they seem. Each has secrets they wish to keep hidden. For many, it is those very secrets that have led them here. The book is being marketed as a suspenseful thriller.

However, to me, it is not that. The book weaves through the present day in Venice Beach and through different junctures in the back stories of the characters and how they find themselves to be here. There are a lot of characters and a lot of back stories to keep track of. The back stories include controlling abusive parents, illnesses, accidents, infatuations, drugs, crime, and more.

How the story comes together is the intrigue of the book. That takes most of the 400 pages of the book; not a lot actually happens in the present. The connections the author is able to design and depict between these characters are creative and entertaining. It just takes a while to get there. So, the book at times seems long. About half way through, I am ready for the story to all come together.

About the Book

How far would you run to escape your past?

Venice Beach, Los Angeles. A paradise on earth. Tourists flock to the golden coast and the promise of Hollywood. But for eight strangers at a beach-front hostel, there is far more on their minds than an extended vacation. All of them are running from something. And they all have secrets they’d kill to keep…

This holiday-set read is a compulsive and addictive thriller, perfect for fans of T.M. Logan.

About the Author

John Marrs is an author and former journalist based in London and Northamptonshire. After spending his career interviewing celebrities from the worlds of television, film and music for numerous national newspapers and magazines, he is now a full-time author. His books include No1 bestseller and Netflix series The One, The Passengers, award winning What Lies Between Us and The Good Samaritan. Follow him at , on Twitter @johnmarrs1, on Instagram and on Facebook at

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