Review: A-List – D.P. Lyle

A-List – D.P. Lyle – 3 stars

A-list.png

This book is a contemporary American murder-mystery novel, and the second in the Jake Longly series. (Thanks to Oceanview Publishing for letting me read a copy!) Here we have a high profile murder with an apparently obvious culprit, and a surprising resolution, speckled with humour, sex and showbiz. And I didn’t really like it.

Let’s do positives first: this is quick and readable, witty at times, and had a satisfactory conclusion. And can I just say, a protagonist who learns self-defence from a book is the most adorable thing.

We can’t talk about ‘A-list’, though, without talking about tautology. This book was repetitive not only semantically (I think jokes need to be delivered as quickly as possible, and NEVER twice) but thematically – the same theories and facts and clues were repeated over and over again throughout the book, to the extent that it wasn’t just unnecessary but patronising. I understand that a mystery without much evidence means everything counts for more, but readers aren’t stupid. We prefer not to have things spelled out to us!

Some of the dialogue was very stilted, and there was no character in particular that stood out to me as particularly rounded, but superficially, the story was interesting, and I didn’t work out who the murderer was until about 70% through.

I think some people will really like this book, and I’m happy for them! But I have to admit that I was very happy to finish with this, and to tend to my craving for a sentence with more than one clause.

If you’ve read this too I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.

Dani

Review: Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn

Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn – 4 stars

Sharp Objects

‘Sharp Objects’ is Gillian Flynn’s (author of Gone Girl) debut novel, and it’s a pretty darn good one. It’s a tense thriller, following reporter Camille who is sent back to her home town to investigate a murder, and write an article with a ‘personal touch’.

The first person narrative (through Camille’s eyes) is stunning: the prose is rich, and my little student brain had a field day getting my teeth into the abundance of imagery. It’s an indulgence that can, in the wrong hands, lead to an overly flowery and dense text, but Ms. Flynn wields her metaphors like a pro, and I love her for it.

The gradual revelations about Camille’s character were both intensely effective and tragic. I was blown away by Gillian’s ability to get right into the protagonist’s mind, and it made for a fascinating – if chilling and difficult – read. I am, I should add, really glad I didn’t read the blurb before diving into the book. Looking at it now, I feel like it tames down the issues presented into a Hollywood-esque plot point meant only to shock, whereas the book is grittier, more balanced, and so much more human.

I did have difficulty finding a character that I could really relate to, as the story is set in a small and very troubled town, but that didn’t hinder my involvement with the story. I found myself getting stuck right into the mystery, forming theories and trying to understand some of the more complex characters.

The ending was, as expected of Gillian Flynn, both shocking (if not entirely surprising) and a little bit horrific. It worked, but it almost felt like she had just come up with the worst possible scenario and rolled with it. I’m not going to spoil anyone, but I will say that I had a really hard time understanding the culprit’s reasoning.

The book is heart-wrenchingly sad and quite a lot darker than I would normally go in for, but I can’t deny the fact that this book is really really good.

Four stars from me, because Gillian Flynn is one of the writers I look up to the most. Although, I sometimes wonder if she should invest some time in counselling.

If you’ve read this too, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.

~Dani

Review: Shutter Island – Dennis Lehane

Shutter Island – Dennis Lehane – 4 stars

Shutter Island

The story starts off by setting the scene: an island, isolated, inhabited solely by those mental patients deemed too dangerous to be detained in a normal facility. When two officers are called over to investigate a missing patient, they are stripped of their weapons and are welcomed into the inescapable complex. I nearly stopped right there, because I really hate scary stories, and this one was shaping up to be uncomfortably similar to The Woman in Black.

As it turns out, this novel is not a horror story. It’s a psychological thriller,¬† and there are parts that will make you shiver and ‘turn away’, but it’s not written just to scare you out of your wits.

I’ve never read anything by Dennis Lehane before, so it was a pleasant surprise to jump into his fresh narrative. He creates fantastic characters that are well-constructed historically and emotionally. My only issue with the prose was the overabundance of swear words; expletives stop being expressive when there are five to a page!

The story is completely gripping, and the plot beautifully constructed. If you’re reading it, my advice to you is to pay close attention because this book will mess with your head.

As with any story dealing with serious mental health problems and the sixties in North America, there are things that could be seen as offensive, so read with integrity. It’s a really great story set post world war, and the turbulence of the setting shouldn’t take away from that.

There’s actually a film adaptation of this book, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Do I think it would make a great film? Absolutely. Do I plan on ever watching it? Nope.

If you’ve read this too, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Have you seen the movie?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Book of the Month: April 2014

Observant readers may notice that I completely skipped the ‘Book of the Month’ for March. Here is my explanation: while I did read some really interesting books, my favourite ended up being Farenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury). I genuinely enjoyed it, but it didn’t inspire in me the passion that my other ‘Book of the Month’ nominees did, so I decided not to dedicate an entire post to it. It’s still a very much recommended read, though!

Book of the Month April 2014: Gone Girl –¬†Gillian Flynn – 5 stars

So many people rave about this book! In fact, I’m probably a little late jumping on the band-wagon. Despite all the hype, I wasn’t expecting what I encountered upon opening this book.

Gone Girl is dark, psychological and brilliant. It is gripping and unabashedly twisted and quite unlike everything else I’ve read this year. It’s also one of the few books I think really deserves the massive build-up and publicity it receives.

The characters are gritty and convincing, the writing style confident and fluid, and the plot twists uncomfortable (in the best way possible) and, well, twisted.

(On a side note, please can we ignore the excessive, extortionate, unnecessary use of triadic structure in this post? Thanks.)

Gone Girl also happens to be one of those books that are dangerously easy to trip you into giving other people spoilers, so I’m going to leave the summary at that. Do give this a go though; Gillian Flynn is a brilliant writer.

If you’ve read this too, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for reading and have a lovely day!

~Dani