Nova is 32 years old and she is about to see the world for the very first time.
Jillian Safinova, Nova to her friends, can do many things. She can speak five languages. She can always find a silver lining. And she can even tell when someone is lying just from the sound of their voice.
But there’s one thing Nova can’t do. She can’t see.
When her brother convinces her to have an operation that will restore her sight, Nova wakes up to a world she no longer understands. Until she meets Kate.
As Kate comes into focus, her past threatens to throw them into a different kind of darkness. Can they each learn to see the world in a different … and open their eyes to the lives they could have been living all along?
The Rules of Seeing not only made Kate and Nova see the world differently, but it also made me look at the world I thought I already knew so well in another perspective.
It sounds like a fairytale come true, being able to see again after an operation, but the truth is that it’s more difficult than any of the 5 languages Nova learned. The author did a great job describing the many hurdles she’s facing when trying to make sense of all the different colours and shapes surrounding her.
Nova’s discovery of the world and bewilderment was wonderful to watch and her reactions seemed to be described very realistically. She has quite a few difficulties understanding what she sees though: concepts like depth and transparency are foreign to her and she therefore creates her own set of rules which she calls the ‘Rules of Seeing’. They are scattered throughout the novel and reading them made me realise that you don’t just go from being blind to seeing like you and me. It’s definitely not like in the movies!
The sighted have forgotten completely about the wonder of discovering these rules. We all learned the language of seeing when we were babies, we only can’t remember this anymore, as Mr Heap points out to the reader in his foreword. Luckily, the novel and Nova’s rules are little reminders of the magic of the world.
Rule of Seeing N° 2 : Objects look smaller as their distance increases.
Rule of Seeing N° 174 : If you go outside and everything is murky grey, do not worry. You are not developing cataracts. Fog changes the colour of everything.
Rule of Seeing N° 275 : Sighted people get so good at recognizing shapes that they use them instead of words. They put pictures on toilets, road signs, bottles of bleach, no smoking areas, food mixers and hospitals; they never seem to get confused.
As Nova starts to explore the world, the story starts to focus more on Kate as well, a woman who is also learning to see, be it in another sense of the word, she’s coming to terms with and recognizing the situation she’s in. It doesn’t take much to know where her story is going right from the beginning and the story is well-balanced this way. My favourite character was definitely Nova though because she hasn’t had it easy being born blind but she’s so joyful and full of life, she exhumes positivity. She’s a little fighter whereas Kate tends to give up (or give in) much easier. It was absolutely wonderful these two met and seeing the influence they had on each other. They were both going through very trying times and I was very curious to see them both go forward. There were a lot of ups and downs in their lives that made me feel alternately happy and sad. It also ended in quite a satisfying way that goes to show that sometimes you do get what you deserve.
The Rules Of Seeing was a very insightful novel and gave me so much thought. We take so much of the world we see for granted and thanks to The Rules Of Seeing you can learn to really SEE it again in a way you never thought you would.
I received a free copy of the novel from HarperCollinsPublishers in exchange for my honest opinion.