★★★★☆: Fantastic, segmented story about chunks of lives (and afterlives) surrounding a hotel and a death.
[spoiler free/mild details]
Hotel World has a very nicely-written and unassuming premise in that it is about some people in and around a hotel. And one of them is dead. It's honestly so great.
From the first page I was so hooked on this book. I felt like I'd dived into it and was falling, tumbling into the story at 80mph. Pretty appropriate seeing as the book starts with a fall. Hotel World loops around its setting into and out of characters in a way that feels kind of dizzying but incredibly compelling. And the characters and subject matter are so delightfully odd and sort of adventurous in their particular, peculiar brands of just-about normality.
We see a glimpse into an afterlife which is splintered and cautiously sombre, but overall, open and endless, and reading it at times feels like being a child. Reading the exploration of a slight alteration of the living realm, with characters on the surface not very interesting or compatible or even connected, but who reveal so much in the way of little moments of beauty and wit and wonder. And by the end of the book it feels like everything is so connected, like I even might be there myself. And I have a sudden unusual desire to wear somebody else's watch.
I do wish there was more of Sara Wilby, because she and her afterlife are my favourite bits of this book, but all of it was compelling and nicely connected nevertheless. I also really like the use of stream-of-consciousness style narratives in different parts of the book because I felt like that really successfully conveyed a sense of confusion, urgency, and grief where applicable. Some of it is quite lengthy and gruelling near the end, but for me that made me rush to the finish line despite my eyes feeling a bit exhausted with it all. Often the writing style lends a dreaminess to things, and I really liked that.
This book touched my heart and made me want to rush around saying "wooooooooo-hooooooooooo" a lot. Not many books compel me to take physical action/pretend to be an aeroplane, so I'm considering that a plus.