An out of practice reader discussing the books I get around to reading.
All right, folks, the wine is out of my system and I had a good night's sleep. It's time for an actual review!
As I said last night, I wasn't happy with this one. There were some parts I like, which I'll talk about in a bit, but for the most part I was disappointed. I finished the book just to finish it and that's not a good feeling for me to have towards a book.
One of my biggest problems with the book was just how predictable it was. I figured out who the killer was fairly early on, which I didn't like. My favorite thing about mysteries is that moment when I feel like a total idiot because I didn't see the ending coming. That's what makes mysteries so much fun for me. I don't like it when they're obvious and this one was painfully so. So that took away a lot of the fun from me.
Another thing that bothered me the longer I read was Minnie's bipolar disorder, mostly because it didn't feel like bipolar disorder to me. Now, I do not have the disorder or know anyone who does. So I could be wrong about this and am fully willing to admit it. I just know what I learned in my psych classes, and Minnie's behavior didn't seem to match up to the accounts we read, the DSM, etc. This bothers me because it seems more like the writer created an unstable character and decided to slap a label onto her, rather than try to genuinely portray a mental illness. If nothing else that comes across as lazy and that bothers me.
One smaller peeve, the writer put in so many bits about calling out characters (i.e. Nathan) as being racist or sexist or whatever. Yet she wrote some things that seemed just as problematic as the behavior the characters were calling out. Like, Kumiko felt a lot like a stereotype to me, based on what I know about common stereotypes. I hate when books turn preachy, especially when it's obvious and the writer is doing the same thing they're preaching again.
Everything else that bothered me about the book has already been covered in past posts, so I won't waste your time with the repeats of those. So let's talk about what the book did right.
I actually really liked the pattern to the killings once it became apparent. That I didn't figure out, which was nice. The people dying the same way they hurt Claire was a fun twist and it was creative the way they went about it. It did make things a little predictable, especially with Kumiko's death, but it was fun. And it was a nice similarity between this book and And Then There Were None, since their death's followed the lyrics to the song
"Ten Little Soldiers".
On that note, I did really like the similarities between Ten and it's source material. McNeil did a really good job in that regard. The red herring, the killer being someone we thought was already dead, another person helping the killer out, they all were nods that made me smile. So I think those parts of the book were really successful and made it not a total failure.
Overall, what stings about this book is that it could have been REALLY good. The foundations were all there, McNeil had some fun ideas of how to twist a classic, and the premise itself is a good one. She's not even that bad of a writer. A little too simple for my tastes but not bad. But with the weak characters, predictable plot, and tedious drama, it just didn't come through. So I give it 1.5 stars out of 5, because while it did make me smile, there just wasn't enough to redeem it to me. Such a shame.