Friday, March 4, 2011

The Twisted Thread

I realize it has been a long time since I reviewed a book on this blog. For awhile, I had a new book review up every week, and then I started reading a book thats a bit outside my typical arena of interests. I still haven't finished that book (though I plan to and don't think it's a bad read), but I did read and review another in the interim. Now I have read one more since starting that book, and I suspect For the Win will have to wait a little longer while I squeeze some fast, light reading in over the next few weeks (hopefully!).

The book I just finished was not fast, light reading. Actually it is similar in one way to For the Win, that being that the point of view switches each chapter to another person, and there is nothing that slows down reading for me like that. Switching point of view offers a natural break, and you are more inclined to slip your bookmark in and leave it for another time or day. You lose the sense of urgency that keeping to one point of view gives you. Now, it can be done well, this switching, if each character is fascinating and adds valuable pieces to the puzzle.

But The Twisted Thread (out in June of 2011, no cover yet) wasn't an example of that. Charlotte Bacon's novel is adult mystery. (For once, I didn't read a young adult book, and as you'll see, it only confirmed for me why I prefer young adult.) Why adult fiction thinks it has to be so literary and verbose I don't know. By "literary," in this case, I mean the attempt to create depth and evoke color out of the most mundane aspects of life, usually by giving far too many completely boring details. Young adult fiction, on the other hand, knows it has to work hard to keep its audience, so it's more snappy, more to the point. Occasionally, the slower pace of adult fiction is pleasant, but in that case, there has to be a real spark in the author's writing to keep you hooked.

The Twisted Thread lacked spark, but what it mostly lacked was pay-off. I found the concept interesting enough to read and keep reading, despite the many breaks due to changes in point of view. The book begins with the discovery of a teenage girl's murder on an elite boarding school campus. An intern named Madeline, one of the book's points of view, sees the body and realizes the girl has just given birth, but no one knew she was pregnant and the baby is nowhere to be found. The school is used to solving its problems in-house, and everyone clams up when the police get involved. Everyone seems suspicious, and as Madeline discovers a secret girl club called the Reign of Terror, she realizes there are many things wrong with Armitage Academy, on many levels.

If that sounds as interesting to you as it did to me, let me save you a lot of wasted time. I'll even tell you the end, I'm that confident you don't want to read this book. So, obviously, SPOILERS. The Reign of Terror ends up having almost nothing to do with the end. The murdered girl was their leader, and they had disagreements. But they didn't kill her. It turns out the girl, Claire, was just a spoiled rich kid who found out the head of her academy once loved her mother. Angry at the life she felt she'd missed out on (despite being rich already), she slept with the head's son as a kind of payback. But then she got pregnant and realized she could use that to ruin Armitage and the head's family. So, she carried the baby secretly, and when it was born, she got her boyfriend (not the boy she'd slept with) to hide the baby. The baby's father, the head's son and a senior at Armitage, accidentally kills Claire in a fit of rage.

What I couldn't understand when I finally read this disappointing revelation was why everyone who knew anything kept it secret. It just didn't seem...well, big enough. I mean, it was tragic, and I can understand why the head would be reluctant to turn in his son. In fact, he tries to tell the police he did it instead of his son by the end, but the whole book basically convinces you that the head's a decent guy. At the end, you still feel like he's a good man, and so you're just left wondering why he tried to cover things up. And you wonder why the people taking care of the baby or the boyfriend who hid the baby don't come forward. They all have their reasons, but none of them seem good enough. It might have been logical, and it might have been how something like that would really go down. But it didn't make for a good story pay-off. Am I saying I wanted more scandal at the end? For this book, yes. The book seemed to be leading up to it, and then it wasn't nearly as bad as you'd been led to believe. Strangely enough, morality conscious that I am, I wanted something a little more edgy at the end. But rather than edgy, I got a different kind of immorality.

Morally, the book wasn't too bad until the end. The F-word was used a few times, but in adult fiction, I'm not too bothered by it. What really disgusted me was that at the end, Madeline, who has been attracted to two men the entire book, sleeps with one and has a summer relationship with him and then decides his life is going in another direction and begins a relationship with the other one. Okay. So, that, sadly, happens in real life. It's more messy in real life, but it's there. The thing is...this is a book! This is a story that should be bigger than life! I don't want my heroine to sleep with one guy and then agree to have dinner with another one at the end. What's romantic or happy about that? What's satisfying about that? Yuck.

So, I didn't like this book at all. The only reason I even give it as much as two stars is that it grabbed me enough to want to know the outcome. I shouldn't have expected the outcome to be any more interesting than the rest of the book.

I'm looking forward to reading some good young adult fiction again next.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.