In We Were Liars E. Lockhart creates a modern gothic tale about a wealthy family torn apart by money and power and one girls secret that torments them all. Cadence Sinclair is the oldest of the “liars” – the three oldest of … Continue reading
Author: Lauren Oliver
Date Published: March 4, 2014
Number of Pages: 408
What’s It About?
Each year in the dead-end town of Carp, NY, every student in the graduating class has the chance to enter Panic – a legendary, and dangerous game of luck and chance. Spurred by heartbreak and revenge Heather and Dodge enter the game. Every decision, every ounce of courage leads to new alliances, chances for romance and a shot in the dark at a way out of town.
My first introduction to Lauren Oliver came in the form of her Delirium trilogy, of which I only ever read (and only half of it) the first book in the series. To many the books are killer, to me they were just, well dull. I found the concept to be beyond reaching and I really couldn’t get down with lead character Lena who I felt was whiny and cowardly. Harsh I know. I’m saying all of this because I was really reluctant to pick up Oliver’s newest book Panic but I’m glad I did.
Panic is nothing at all like Delirium, a standalone book – the overall concept, a mysterious and dangerous game (with a big payout) held for the graduating high school class in small town New York builds to a crescendo in an intense and riveting manner.
Told from the dual perspectives of contestants Heather and Dodge, playing for their own independent reasons, the book is a surprisingly intense commentary on youth and the way in which desperation of all kinds can drive a person to do things they never thought themselves capable of.
The concept is enthralling – Oliver manages to capture your attention from the very beginning. As the game progresses and the stakes are raised you find yourself becoming more and more invested in the characters and desperate to know the outcome.
The dual narrative can at times come off a little gimmicky – for instance in Allegiant it was evident very early that the reason for the change in narrative style was because the end of the story couldn’t come from the character it had always come from. In Panic the dual narrative makes sense. It offers a great duality in reasoning for the various reasons these kids would put their lives in such danger for a cash prize. For many it’s seen as a way out of small town life for the story’s narrators it’s much more.
Heather is incredibly likeable. Suffering from heartbreak and a bad home life Panic is a way from her to step away from the stress of everyday life. It’s also a chance to provide a better life, away from her alcoholic/drug addicted mother, for her and her sister. As the story progresses Heather’s growth from wallflower to a confident, beautiful girl is striking yet organic.
At first Dodge comes off a little slimy – you kind of recoil at the thought of him, but his is a great example of character development and how wrong first impressions can be. Loyal to a fault Dodge is determined, pragmatic and clever. His relationships with his sister, Heather and Nat (Heather’s best friend) paint him as loving guy with a great deal of respect for the opposite sex.
The Minors (characters)
Nat – Heather’s best friend, Dodge’s love interest – I’m not going to lie here. I kind of hated her. She’s incredibly self-involved and without spoiling anything – um, I can’t actually finish that sentence without spoiling things. Needless to say the gif below best describes my feelings about her.
Heather’s other best friend, and the boy she’s obviously in love with but has yet to realize this fact (trust me I’m giving nothing away) is perfectly likeable but I will say his purpose in the story is fairly obvious – I have yet to determine if it was meant to be this way or if it’s just a weak link in the story. Whenever Bishop entered the scene I always found myself doing that twisty head thing that puppies do…:
Anne, Krista, Lily
All three women play a vital role in Heather’s life, Krista – her mother is a disappointment, forcing Heather to play the parent role. Lily, Heather’s little sister though very minor and not as developed as other characters gives Heather purpose. And Anne – well she’s really awesome. Best way to explain her.
There’s a reason people keep buying Oliver’s books, despite not being a fan of her earlier work there’s no denying she can write. In Panic she creates characters with meaning and reasoning. For every action there is a reaction, a reaction that continuously ups the ante. She also manages to create unique character voices. Both Heather and Dodge stand out so clearly as independent characters, yet when they’re brought together they mesh.
Oliver’s writing is also great for its intricacies. She adds in small details that provide so much for your imagination. The town of Carp is so beautifully illustrated by simple additives like Meth Row or as a friend pointed out Nat’s obvious OCD – which is never named but very evident.
The Elusive YA Standalone
What I think I particularly appreciate about Panic is that it’s a standalone – a concept that seems incredibly unique in the current world of YA overrun with dystopian trilogies. It’s nice to read a book and know that the end is really the end. There’s something to be said for an author who tells the story in one go, sometimes it just makes the story so much more rich.
The Final Judgement
Panic is a great story. It’s unique, engrossing and filled with interesting plot twists, strong and likeable characters. It’s the perfect concoction of mystery, suspense, romance and adventure. Throw in a little coming of age and a little revenge it kind of has a bit of something for everyone. If you’re looking for a tightly woven tale that builds to an ultimately explosive crescendo, you should probably pick up a copy. 4.5/5
Author: Susan Ee
Publisher: Susan Ee (Skyscape)
Date Published: November 19, 2013
Number of Pages: 320
Series: Penryn and the End of Days, #2
After managing to survive the initial onslaught of the Angel apocalypse through an unlikely alliance with the enemy, Penryn finds herself, along with other survivors trying to salvage some semblance of a normal life camped out with the resistance a group of civilians set on taking down the Angelic invaders. When a group of people capture Penryn’s sister Paige thinking she is a monster the spectacle leads the newly created scorpion/locusts hybrids to the survivors. In the ensuing chaos Paige escapes, leaving Penryn and her schizophrenic mother searching the streets of San Francisco to find her.
Meanwhile Archangel Raffe (Raphael) believing Penryn dead continues to search for the fallen Angel Beliel in order to seek vengeance and get back his wings. As the story unfolds Penryn makes some shocking discoveries about the Angel’s plans and privately longs to reunite with Raffe.
World After the second book in the Penryn and the End of Days series proves that Susan Ee is most definitely not suffering from the sophomore slump. This is one of the best follow ups to a great first novel I’ve read in a long time.
Picking up right where the first book left off, World After doesn’t feel like a sequel because it flows so seamlessly – Penryn’s story is so perfectly laid out, Ee ensures you remember how the first book panned out without rehashing everything. Even better is that this series truly sets itself apart from the other major female led, dystopian/apocalypse/fantasy series out there and that comes down to Penryn.
Penryn puts other major female heroines (Katniss, Tris, etc) to shame she’s neither so tough and self-righteous that you can’t identify with her, nor does she complain about her current lot in life. She is unapologetic for the things she’s forced to do to survive as she navigates this new, apocalyptic, angel run world. Penryn’s sense of self-preservation knows no bounds – she will do whatever it takes to protect her little sister and her mother. She is a perfect mixture of vulnerability and steeliness.
In the first book Angelfall a big part of the story revolved around the relationship between Penryn and angel Raffe. In World After Archangel Raffe doesn’t make a proper appearance until more than halfway through the book. A great choice on Ee’s part – this is Penryn’s story and though Raffe is a great character (I mean he is particularly swoon worthy) she’s not allowing him to become Penryn’s sole purpose for survival, nor is she allowing her to become dependent on him, either physically or emotionally.
That being said I found myself waiting with bated breath for their reunion – Raffe despite his incredible piety and status as an Archangel is slowly but surely developing a great sense of humanity, his interactions with Penryn, their connection and the feelings he has for her that he never truly acknowledges nor denies only makes him more accessible and real as a character.
Though it’s obvious Penryn and Raffe have feelings for each other (I mean holy chemistry Batman!) Penryn never allows herself to become so wrapped up in Raffe that she forgets what she needs to do or what she’s capable of. Part of what makes their relationship so great is that despite Raffe’s otherworldliness he treats Penryn as an equal – because he knows she’s got his back. I love that when Ee creates these intense moments between Penryn and Raffe – with all this unspoken subtext Penryn always finds a way to remind herself of what’s important – survival and protecting her sister. She gets these great moments of being a teenage girl but never dwells because she knows at the moment there’s more important things to deal with.
Ee creates a broad range of interesting and unique characters, deeply entrenched in the realism of the world she’s created. Through Penryn’s little sister, Paige who despite being “Frankensteined” maintains her sweetness and love for her sister while dealing with her newly developed savagery, their mother who in her paranoid schizophrenic state demonstrates more clarity and know how than those of sound mine, and the members of the resistance exhibit both the good and bad of human behaviour this new, dark, and cold world takes shape.
Ee weaves numerous stories into the fabric of Penryn’s overall tale – the resistance, her mother’s struggle with mental illness and Paige’s struggle with her new form only enrich the story. The Angels and their fight to be messenger – the mixture of power, politics and heavenly bodies heightens the drama and adds a sense of urgency to the fight. *Slight spoiler* the creation of the locusts to act as a sign of the apocalypse to help push for the angels agenda and dominate the world is a really great, unexpected twist.
Ee’s appropriation of Christian angelic hierarchy and the new elements she’s created (the warrior’s connection to their sword, the lightness of angels despite their power, their regenerative powers) adds to the angelic folklore we already know.
Ee is a great storyteller, she’s creating a world that readers can identify with and get lost in, with strong characters – and particularly a great lead it’s no wonder she’s become a self-publishing phenomenon. Also, little side note here, the book covers for both Angelfall and World After are amazing – dark, dangerous and beautiful they offer a perfect, wordless explanation of what to expect when picking up these books.
Susan Ee’s Penryn and the End of Days series is shaping up to be a great addition to the YA fantasy/dystopian canon – it’s a fascinating story with the right amount of edge, fantasy and romance. I highly recommend it.
Author: A.S.A. Harrison
Publisher: Penguin Books
Date Published: June 25, 2013
Number of Pages: 336
Psychotherapist Jodi Brett silently watches as her already dysfunctional 20-year relationship slowly disintegrates, leaving her slighted, disturbed and fighting to retain her way of life.
This is the second book I’ve read and reviewed that’s been likened to Gone Girl (the first being Kimberly McCreights Reconstructing Amelia), after reading the latter I was slightly disappointed, it was a decent story but no way as suspenseful, thrilling or shocking as Gone Girl. The Silent Wife however is a different story. Harrison’s story has all the suspense of Gone Girl as well as that nameless quality that makes you silently scream in your head as the story unfolds and each characters actions and decisions take them further and further towards an unknown abyss.
This is largely due in part to Harrison’s unbelievable writing, which switches back and forth between main characters Jodi and Todd – from the opening lines you know how the story will unfold and as it moves along you find yourself being engulfed by the feelings of dread and foreboding Harrison’s prose creates. The story’s narration is done in such a matter of fact way, there’s no judgment or opinion, just facts. Add to that the brilliant use of the omniscient narrator – which reminded me of the narration in the film version of Tom Perrotta’s Little Children which incidentally is a really good film, but I digress. Harrison assumes that the reader’s intelligence is on par with her own; her use of language is colourful, intriguing – yet almost academic in presentation, highly mature and incredibly fluid. It’s very cool. She evokes strong imagery, for instance take a look at this doozy: As the northern hemisphere hurtles away from the sun, the lengthening nights and disappearing days strike her as a punishment designed for her selectively. Harsh winds whip up rain and fog, whistle through trees, and slam into windowpanes. Leaves that were green just last week have turned the colour of piss and dung and are piling up on the pavement. (Chapter 11, Opening paragraph) Stunning.
The brilliance in Harrison’s writing lies in her ability to make even the most obvious situations or outcomes surprising. How the story unfolds is not in and of itself unexpected but the way in which scenarios play out – with a sense of detachment on main character Jodi’s part and unbelievable delusion on that of her husband Todd’s.
I found main character Jodi to be frustrating in her restraint and her refusal to accept the facts of her life. By turning a blind eye to Todd’s behaviour for so many years she’s placed herself in – what she believes to be this impenetrable bubble – when in fact, despite all of her attempts, her refusal to get married etc., she’s become complacent just like her mother. And in doing so she’s in a way put herself at Todd’s mercy. Even with all of her education, and a career that could potentially make her financially independent she’s allowed her world to revolve around Todd and therefore become dependent on him. I mean how naïve can you be? Is it really possible that it never crossed her mind that eventually her husband’s antics would escalate, that he would eventually take the final step and leaver her for someone else? Someone younger? It baffles me to think that this character would never have thought to put a little money away just in case. It also annoys me that she would be so blind-sided by events that were twenty years in the making! Yet there’s this streak of rebellion in Jodi that we get glimpses of periodically – a prime example is the sleeping pills she puts in a cup of cocoa for Todd. Eleven in total. And she’s seemingly not perturbed that she could have potentially killed him.
Yet as I read the book all of these questions were constantly pushed aside due to the unbelievable rage and astonishment I felt towards Jodi’s husband Todd. Instantly unlikeable, arrogant, pompous and self-involved as more of Todd’s character is revealed you come to realize that he’s, well, kind of an idiot. His arrogance is inflated by this belief he has that he’s “really not that bad”, he’s a nice guy you know, he’d never be mean to someone, and he’s trusting, always willing to accept a person at face value. The way he rationalizes his behaviour, his lies, his cheating coupled with the way he walks out on Jodi – with his tail between his legs, it’s all just so vile. *SPOILER* The man impregnates the 21 year-old daughter of his childhood best friend! And then, even more amazingly convinces himself that eventually his good ol’ buddy Dean (his fiancée Natasha’s father) will get over it, come to accept it and value it.
Watching Todd endure this midlife crisis is like watching a diabetic left in a candy store, painful to the point of torture. Hitting the gym, buying a new wardrobe it’s all very pathetic.
Throughout the entire story Todd wavers between Jodi and Natasha, he even manages to convince himself that he and Jodi could be friends, and in fact going so far as to hope that in essence he could turn Jodi into the mistress. Are you kidding me? The worst thing about Todd is that I know someone like that. This kind of person is totally possible. Beware the Todd’s of this world.
Adding further dysfunction to the story – Todd’s soon to be baby mama has got to be the most obnoxious, vapid and shrewish chick in town. The differences between her and Jodi are beyond striking. Natasha is immature beyond all reason, jealous and demanding – it makes you wonder, is youth and spunk really all it takes to make a person turn their back on a loyal, loving and accepting companion? One who, if we’re a little vain, and who are we kidding of course we are, has been acknowledged by numerous characters as being both fit and attractive. If so there’s no hope for any of us. Though Jodi has her faults, she is a little too perfect, a little Stepford wife in her behaviour and her silence though often chilling, is more detrimental to her than she realizes.
As the story hits its peak it plays out like a cautionary tale – Hell hath no fury meets Apple and Tree ie. Try as you might you’ll probably turn into your parents (which definitely explains Lindsay Lohan so take heed children.)
If I have one criticism it’s that I found the ending to drag a bit, both Jodi and Todd make selfish choices and both of them suffer from serious indecision about them – it’s the indecision that encumbers the story. Regardless in the end they both hold true to their persona’s – Todd moves on to another unsuspecting girl with the hope that she’ll be the one who cures him of his ennui, and Jodi follows through on what she feels is the only way to keep the life she’s known for the past twenty years. Harrison does manage to throw in one final twist at the end that once again appears so obvious but somehow she manages to make it seem startling.
The Silent Wife is a captivating and intelligent story that will make you so angry, appalled and confounded you’ll wonder why you’re reading it while at the same time hoping it won’t end. It stands strong on its own and definitely lives up to the hype.
Author: Kimberly McCreight
Date Published: April 2, 2013
Number of Pages: 384 (Hardcover)
After the apparent suicide of her only child, law associate Kate Baron struggles to come to terms with her loss. After receiving an ominous text that suggests Amelia’s death was not as it seems Kate takes it upon herself to investigate the circumstances of her daughter’s death and the secret life of a child she thought she knew.
This book was first presented to me as Gone Girl meets Gossip Girl – which I thought sounded pretty awesome and though there’s definitely a lot of Gossip Girl in there, I can’t say Reconstructing Amelia is anywhere near shocking or gripping as Gone Girl.
It seems almost unfair to compare any new mystery/thriller release to the juggernaut that is Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl; it really just can’t be matched. In the case of Reconstructing Amelia the only similarity I could see was that both dealt with a mystery surrounding a family member. Reconstructing Amelia is nowhere near as misleading as Gone Girl. Like Gone Girl it too offers many red herrings – none that lead to any outrageously, “Wow I did not see that coming” moments (maybe I should call them “baby herrings”, which of course I can since this is my blog) but regardless of their size they are very much there in the story. However the seeds and clues that McCreight plants through the story are much easier to piece together. Quite frankly I figured out the ‘whodunit’ part about half way through, or at least I called it. This in one way could be a bit of a bummer if you’re really looking for a shocking ending but I kind of liked it. It’s as if McCreight wanted you to figure it out before she summed it all up. What was important was that both Kate as the protagonist and the reader learned of the incidents and circumstances that led to the tragedy together. The reader is meant to experience Kate’s journey as she does. I like that – it makes the story so much more interactive.
Like Gone Girl, Reconstructing Amelia is very relationship based – though with so many more characters most of the relationships are only shown in snippets, which makes them lose some of their depth. Unlike Gone Girl not a single character in this novel is anywhere near as terrible, awful, vile and amazing as Amy Dunne (nope, not even crazy Zadie).
That being said Reconstructing Amelia definitely has its own vibe and I liked it. McCreight, in the creation of Amelia’s prep school prestige and the “secret” sororities led by the richest, meanest and prettiest girls, sets the stage well for a plot full of twists and turns. I liked the Gossip Girl vibe – the prep school background and the rise to sudden popularity and lightening quick fall of a likeable character. It’s all very dramatic.
But what really makes this book enjoyable is Amelia – as far as characters goes, she has to be one of the most likeable, sincere and genuine characters I’ve come across in recent literature. She is so composed and self-accepting – which is impressive in anyone but in particular a 15-year-old. At first you might think this composure’s not realistic, but based on the voice McCreight gives her, the quiet confidence and strength she continuously demonstrates, it is believable. She’s a kid any parent would be proud to call their own.
It’s interesting how McCreight demonstrates the way Amelia deals with her tormentors, instead of presenting Amelia as unable to deal with her fall from grace and the fear and isolation she’s feeling she stocks her up with unbelievable grit and love. Amelia fights through the pain of a broken heart and the bullying being dealt to her (lead by the borderline psychopathic Zadie – that girl makes Regina George look like Mary Tyler Moore – I say Mary Tyler Moore because she just seems so nice you know?) Despite her world falling apart Amelia doesn’t allow herself to break in order to protect her best friend – even though that same best friend is beyond self-involved, and it’s worth questioning whether she’d have done the same.
There are a lot of relationships – most of which are clearly unhealthy – in this story, each one plays its part perfectly though I have to say I wanted more insight into Kate’s relationship with her nasty co-worker Daniel and less of the emails between her and the tree-hugger guy. I mean I understand the purpose those emails played – the fact that she used him as an idealized version of the father she wished Amelia had but still Daniel was so much more fascinating. Then again the awful characters always are.
What Reconstructing Amelia lacked was suspense. It was all a little too obvious and a little too easy. And perhaps not nearly as salacious as it’s hyped up to be – instead really it’s a sad glimpse into the life of a teenage girl who made a lot of stupid mistakes for love and in doing so paid for it with her life. If you focus less on the actual mystery and more on the relationships it’s easy to enjoy this book.
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Date Published: 19 March, 2013
Number of Pages: 438 (Hard Cover)
*Spoilers ahead, if you have not read Clockwork Princess but plan to, don’t read this review until you finish the book.*
Before I can lay critique to the final book in Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices trilogy I have to say going into Clockwork Princess I was not as big a fan of this series as I am of The Mortal Instruments. Though I enjoyed Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince they didn’t resonate with me the same way The Mortal Instruments has. However, Clockwork Princess has completely changed my mind on the series. This final chapter (that epilogue!) not only entertained me but moved me as well.
What’s it about?
Clockwork Princess picks up a little after the events in Clockwork Prince, Jem and Tessa are preparing for their upcoming wedding, Charlotte and Henry the arrival of their baby and Will is dealing with his kid sister Cecily and well, brooding over Tessa, and the Magister is still at large and his plan for Tessa yet to be revealed has everyone on edge.
Clare takes us fairly quickly into the action of the Shadowhunting world – moving the story along smoothly and efficiently. Gabriel Lightwood’s revelation about his father’s descent into madness and transformation into a giant worm (which is both gross but humorous) and the message of The Infernal Devices sets things in motion, ultimately leading to an attack on the institute by Mortmain’s steel army (and Mrs. Black!) where Tessa is kidnapped and of all people Jessamine (who only just returned, literally) reveals to Will the Magister’s whereabouts.
In between all the action the story plays out as both a Gothic Romance (Byronic hero and all) and a comedy of manners – which is a good thing, the love triangle between Jem, Tessa and Will is so heavy and intense that the bits of comedy scattered throughout provide a well needed cathartic release.
The letters between Consul Wayland and the Lightwood brothers and Gideon’s ever-blossoming love for Sophie play out along the lines of a Whycherly play in that it’s all affected politeness and scheming and manipulation but in an absolutely fun and enjoyable manner (that first letter to Consul Wayland – priceless). And the “Great Scone Debacle” was really, well, adorable.
The race to save Tessa as Jem wastes away and ultimately the final show down had all the elements of the Shadowhunter world that make Clare’s novels so enticing.
But of course (Mortmain and his Infernal Devices be damned) the real story is the triangle that is Jem, Tessa and Will. It’s exhausting and draining and exciting and suspenseful and completely sad all at once. It’s the stuff good love stories are made of.
Quite frankly I fear the brilliance of Clare’s story will be lost on a lot of people who will focus too much on the fantasy aspect of the world she’s created (which clearly is awesome). But really, if you were to take away all the ‘otherness’ of this story – the Shadowhunters, the demons, the magic, a crazy man creating crazy demon powered robots (yes I went there, I called them robots) – it’s really just an examination on love. And not just romantic love – Clare explores the love between siblings, caregiver and receiver and friends – as so epically written in the story of Will and Jem.
But it all boils down to the love triangle. Generally these types of story are so black and white – there’s the good one and the eternally flawed one, and the one in the middle must choose between what’s easy and what’s difficult, perfection or imperfection. But in the case of Jem, Tessa and Will everything’s kind of laid out on the table from the get go. We know what Jem’s flaw is, we know why Will behaves as he does and we know Tessa is something other than just a girl – and somehow it makes the whole thing so much more intense. Neither Jem nor Will is perfect; the question is who’s perfect for Tessa.
From the beginning I was always team Will – Jem was nice and kind and patient and sweet and probably the safer choice in that he didn’t appear to be an emotional mess, but the guy was an addict marked for death. I mean really, I couldn’t help but feel how unbelievably selfish Jem was being in asking Tessa to marry him knowing he would be dead sooner rather than later. I admit I was rooting for Will. Though about a quarter of my way through the book I actually started to think that maybe, just maybe no one would end up with Tessa. (My alternate ending being the death of Jem and Will joining the Silent Brothers which let’s be honest, would have really played into the Gothic theme and would have been devastating for fan girls and boys everywhere. But really who doesn’t love a good tragedy?) When it was revealed that Jem had in fact joined the Silent Brothers and he said his farewells to both Tessa and Will the sixteen-year-old girl in me swooned because I knew Tessa would now end up with Will. And I felt like Will deserved her. He gave up so much to protect those he loved, this was his reward, it was what he was owed – a lifetime of love and happiness. And though it was made clear that Tessa loved Jem as much as she loved Will – to me it always seemed like Will was the right fit. The one who would make her live, make her experience life in a way she may not have thought possible.
But then I got to thinking – the fact that Jem would so unselfishly renounce true love for the happiness of his friend, his Parabatai – told me two things: Jem was really as pure and kind as everyone believed and that theirs (Will and Jem) is the true love story, each willing to forsake their own happiness to spare the other heartache.
Which makes for a nice change. Often “brotherly love” is explored jokingly, all ‘bro code’ and no heart. Clare subverts that ideal and offers a truly tender examination of male friendship and love. And in doing so the reader understand perfectly how Tessa could fall in love with both men.
The Epic Epilogue
Going into the epilogue I was expecting a tie-in to Jace as the last of the Herondale’s, maybe meeting Tessa or having brother Zachariah (who we now know with certainty is Jem) tell him about the family he never knew. Instead Clare totally destroyed my heart with Tessa’s walk down memory lane of her life with Will, and more specifically his death.
I couldn’t help but be moved at the final image of Will’s life with Jem on one side and Tessa on the other. And I love the idea of Jem playing his feelings, his experiences – singular and shared – through his violin. Something about the way it’s described just kind of pulls you in, it becomes so visceral and tangible. The brief images that are invoked to describe Tessa and Will’s life together – and how despite the rules around the Silent Brothers Will consistently worked to incorporate Jem into their lives, were lovely and touching.
And only adding to the bittersweet reality of Tessa’s life, the fact that after so many years, so much patience and determination Jem managed to overcome what stood in his way and offer Tessa a second chance at the life she could have had with him kind of destroyed my heart. (Is it weird that part of me felt – I don’t know, fear maybe, that in going off with Jem it meant it negated Tessa’s love for Will? I don’t think for a minute that’s what Clare was suggesting; I guess I just really love Will…)
But Clare manages to please both team Jem and team Will while at the same time offering a beautiful, bittersweet ending that was really and truly quite unexpected and exceptionally moving. And one that stayed true to the story.
The whole steam punk/Gothic vibe, the allusions and subtle comparisons to A Tale of Two Cities (Will as Sidney Carton, pfffft not even), and all the love stories makes this third and final book in The Infernal Devices, in my humble opinion, the best of the bunch.
I highly recommend reading the entire series, the lead up to this final book is worth the suspense.
Author: Gillian Flynn
Number of pages: 432
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Date published: 2012
Note* there may be a spoiler or two tucked away in this review. I highly suggest reading the book first and then reading the review.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
On their fifth wedding anniversary Nick Dunn’s wife Amy suddenly disappears. As the story unfolds all the evidence suggests Nick is responsible for his wife’s disappearance. But, as is often the case, things aren’t quite as they appear.
Told from the viewpoints of both husband and wife, this story unfolds in one of the most suspenseful, invigorating and rage inducing ways possible. The story is broken into three acts: Before the disappearance (told through Amy) the disappearance (told by both Nick and Amy, separately) and the return (again both characters tell ‘their’ versions.) The back and forth between each characters version of events is done seamlessly, with each new revelation beautifully sculpted before actually being revealed.
The book is riddled with red herons which, if you’re the type of reader who becomes almost emotionally entwined with a novel, will have you feeling a vast array of emotions ranging from undeniable rage to complete shock followed swiftly by disgust and usually wrapping up with a little bit of awe. This is good. Flynn’s Gone Girl is a story that will make you anxious and leave you fearing marriage. (If you don’t already.)
The use of the unreliable narrator is set up in such a way that you might actually feel shocked and hurt when certain things are brought to life – at least in regard to the character of Nick. His unreliability kind of blindsides you. Yet, despite wanting to hate him you always kind of find yourself rooting for him. Maybe it’s because it’s so obvious he’s a lost cause. Maybe it’s because the feeling of dread that Flynn creates, the fact that as you continue to read you know, without a doubt another bomb is about to drop, you hope he’ll ‘man up’, fight back and reveal the truth, because despite how pathetic he is (and as far as characters go, Flynn has done a brilliant job of creating the most yellow bellied character wrapped in a pretty package to date) you really don’t want him to lose.
Why don’t you want such an awful character to lose? Because the only other choice for a winner is such a disgusting and vile creature – amazingly developed, with brilliant nuances and ingenious deviltry that you literally feel sick at the thought of her. Amy Elliott-Dunn is plain evil. Evil and fun. What’s most inspiring about her character is that as much as you hate her (and trust me you’ll hate her, and if you don’t you may need to start reevaluating your morals) you can, in a way, live vicariously through her because, if I’m being honest, everyone’s been in that one relationship where the thought of unrelenting, earth-shattering revenge is almost all consuming. Of course most of us don’t actually go out and attempt to enact our fantasies of revenge, and certainly not to such detrimental (yet brilliant) extremes. Look out for her inspired diatribe on being the “Cool Girl” – mind blowing.
There’s a reason Gone Girl has been at the top of the best sellers list for the past year, Flynn’s writing is astounding. She creates characters with so much depth – despite their shallowness and self-involvement. Gone Girl transcends all genres and really is on the borderline of great literature. Is it a crime novel? Mystery? Suspense? Morality tale? Revenge? It’s all of those things, and more. Thrilling and suspenseful, with two of the most awful characters out there this book is hard to put down and will invade your psyche for weeks.
If you’ve already read Gone Girl check out Flynn’s other novels Dark Places and Sharp Objects – my personal favourite between the two.