Erica Ryan is flying home from London after a disastrous business trip. Free spirit Abby Hayes is flying into New York City to visit her mother before jetting off again. Both end up in Gander, Canada, when their flight is diverted because of 9/11. For ninety-six hours they share a rollercoaster of emotions and find themselves drawn to one another. Will their nascent connection survive everyday life when they return home?
96 Hours is a book that had so many positive points for me, but also quite a few negatives. What I had hoped for was a book that was emotional, had a unique plot line and characters I cared about. What I got was a complete mixture, and I have to admit that I was disappointed, particularly by the last third of the book.
Erica is hard-working, ambitious and emotionally scarred, and Abby is a nomadic hippy who floats where the wind takes her and charms everyone she meets. The setting of their story however, stranded in Canada when their flight is diverted on 9/11, forces them to take stock of their own lives and to become more self-aware of their own deficiencies as people.
It was the bigger plot that I particularly liked about 96 Hours. Whilst the rest of the world was glued to their TV screens watching the horror unfold in New York, travellers like Abby, Erica, Brian and Michael find themselves stranded far from home, unable to help and not knowing when they will be able to make it back to America. They encounter some incredibly, generous, selfless people in the town of Gander, and it was the way that these secondary characters cared for hundreds of stranded strangers that really sucked me in. But it isn’t actually all that surprising that in the middle of the most prolific terrorist attack in modern history, that the good people of Gander band together to take care of people – and the overwhelming message of 96 Hours is that despite the possibility of evil being imparted by one group of humans, the vast majority of people are essentially good, caring individuals.
96 Hours is told through alternating perspectives between Erica and Abby, which was fine, but there was also a couple of random perspectives from one of the guys they were stranded with, and possibly from someone else (my memory is like a sieve I swear) which just felt clunky and unnecessary.
However, what really lost me, and in the end irritated the hell out of me, was the relationship aspect of the storyline. What Erica and Abby have initially is an attraction based on looks – which is completely fine, but it never felt to me like it surpassed the physical attraction. I wasn’t sold on WHY they were attracted to each other’s personalities – Erica was like a flat, white wall, Abby the annoyingly naïve girl until they had each had a (seemingly simultaneous) epiphany and instantly switch places. Beers does try to explain why this happens, and sells it in a way, but not completely.
The ending of 96 Hours didn’t work for me at all – it was all too….easy, and everything wrapped up too neatly. This is completely my personal preference and opinion however, and I can see that for some readers it really could work. Just not my cup of tea.
96 Hours does have an interesting plot, and one I haven’t run across before, however the characters simply didn’t work for me – I wanted them to, but something was lost along the way and I just couldn’t connect.