What Happened to Marilyn – Alexander Rigby
Marilyn Monroe wakes up inside the rust-colored brick walls of an extravagant mansion in Savannah, and is informed that it’s the year 2062. The young man who tells her this is Jeremiah Gold, whom Marilyn met just days ago in California, a century earlier. He quickly explains how he traveled back to 1962 in the time machine he invented, to save her from the death that would have otherwise overtaken her. At first Marilyn is unable to comprehend the truth, but as Jeremiah discovers that the news of her legendary demise is still mysteriously in place, she decides to align her trust in him. In time, the brazen blonde emerges out into the southern city, taking caution so that none of the citizens of Savannah recognize her. Marilyn knows it’s dangerous, but she can’t quench the urge she has to explore this futuristic world, regardless of the warnings Jeremiah gives her. What Happened to Marilyn is a time-bending novel that gives one of the most famous women in the world a shot at redemption. As she struggles to deal with her identity and her unfulfilled dreams, Marilyn wonders if she should stay with Jeremiah, or return to the past that will never let her go.
I’ve been trying to review this for quite a while, as Alexander Rigby very kindly sent me a review copy, but I’ve had such a busy time lately (going up to Liverpool, Reading festival, work experience, babysitting… a lot of babysitting) that it has taken me a lot longer than I intended!
I had actually seen this book tweeted about a couple of times before I got my hands on a copy, and the premise really interested me. A young man travels back in time to save Marilyn Monroe from her untimely, tragic death. I was unsure of the reasoning behind it at first, but Rigby convinced me of its importance in relation to the characters – and I got behind the idea rather quickly. Characterisation in What Happened to Marilyn is, in my opinion, its distinguishing quality. Yes, the narrative is an original take on the over-done time travel sci-fi trope, and it is done well… but the characters are most redeeming.
Jeremiah is a genius, but a relatable one. His family are slightly clichéd, but you’re made to care anyway. I can’t say that I’m an expert on Marilyn Monroe, or how accurate the portrayal of her is in this novel, but I like her as a character all the same. I don’t know whether I’d be more impressed by accuracy or by Rigby’s creation, so I’m going to let the more Marilyn-minded of you decide what you think. What really brought the characters to life was the interaction between them. A bit dialogue-heavy, but infectiously emotional, it drives the narrative and keeps it relevant and enjoyable.
Of course, like with all literature, there were certain aspects that didn’t suit my usual tastes. I felt like, although it’s sci-fi, it would have been more believable without the explanation behind how the main character managed to make a time-travelling ‘floca’ (flying car). I’d have happily gone along with being told that Jeremiah managed it because he was a genius in ways I’d never understand, rather than the way Rigby came up with. I also felt a little at sorts trying to follow a lot of the sentences, which were often too long and not very well structured. I do feel as if another line-edit might have done the world of good, but it’s not painful to read, and it may just be down to personal tastes.
Another thing I did really enjoy was the description of Savannah, Georgia. I felt as though I was transported, not only through time, but also over to another place.
I’d suggest picking up a copy of this book, whether you’re a fan of Marilyn or not. It’s not terribly complex, but has enough twisting and turning to keep any reader engaged. Personally, I’ll probably be seeking out Rigby’s debut to see what else he can come up with, because thus far I’m impressed and intrigued.
My personal rating: 4/5. Amazon average: 4.7/5. Goodreads average: 4.67/5.
Publishers: Maple Lane Books
Publication Date: August 5th 2014