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Book 2 Completed!

January 4, 2010

Well, I finished In The Woods by Tana French today. In this particular situation, I think reading the spoilers about the book helped me have a better experience with it. (POSSIBLE SPOILER IN THE NEXT  FEW SENTENCES…I think you should read it anyway, but, read at your own risk.) You see, the major complaint about the book is that French doesn’t solve the first mystery she presents to the readers. A good portion of the book is dedicated to this first mystery — the abduction of our narrator’s friends in the summer of 1984. The narrator is found with blood in his shoes, terrified out of his mind, clawing at a tree. Freaky stuff. But French doesn’t solve it. It’s a major letdown…it’s kind of an author faux pas — readers, who invest time and money, don’t like the, “Well, it’s better if it remains a mystery” cop-out. And it IS a cop-out.

But you see, I knew that beforehand…so when I went into the story knowing that my time reading the long passages about that summer would be eventually fruitless, I glided over them, immersed myself in the current day police procedural. Which, despite some complaints, I actually found pretty engrossing. Creative? How creative are mystery/police procedurals? There is a suspension of disbelief required for most detective novels — this one might require a larger suspension, but, I have to tell you…I was still hooked.

Yeah, the narrator is a jerk. Sure, he is condescending to the readers occasionally. The author pisses off readers by never solving mystery #1 and making some frustrating decisions in mystery #2.  But French can write — she isn’t some paperback princess churning out fluff. She has some finely crafted sentences, some fun dialog — her pacing is extraordinary for a first time author. I think she could lay-off the pop-culture references — they are ALREADY jarring and out of date. Britney and Justin? The Simple Life? I rolled my eyes a number of times at these.

But there is promise here and…if the reviewers out there are to be believed…French got better with book number 2. Maybe when I’m done with my around the world tour I will check it out.

The lesson here is: Go in planning on horrific disappointment and you might enjoy what some people think is a train-wreck. I said “might”.

Alright…I know we’re heading to England next in this European leg…I’ll have the book picked by tonight.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jessica permalink
    January 5, 2010 6:08 am

    Thanks for the warning, now I won’t be reading that book. “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt was the same way and I have never been angrier at a book in my entire life. She hooks you in with the mysterious death of a child and then doesn’t solve it! I read it like, five years ago…and I’m STILL mad.

    • January 5, 2010 3:41 pm

      OH my!!! I KNOW!!!!!!!! I HATED her book “The Little Friend.” Hated it. Hated it. Hated it. I invested so much energy into her story…through all that snake-healing BS, the flowery language, the characters…and what a let-down. I was still mad at her when I read “The Secret History” too and I think that carried over into my general dislike of that book also. I still have them on my bookshelf as a reminder of what NOT to do as an author.

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