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The Barrens

3.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  338 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
In this gripping psychological thriller, Joyce Carol Oates, New York Times best-selling author and one of the most versatile and original voices in contemporary American fiction, delivers a startling, complex tale of a serial killer and the people that his ghastly crimes touchand transform. People like Matt McBride. Matt was barely out of junior high when the mutilated bod
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 15th 2002 by Da Capo Press (first published 2001)
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Mudwoman by Joyce Carol OatesZombie by Joyce Carol OatesI Am No One You Know by Joyce Carol OatesFoxfire by Joyce Carol OatesThe Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares by Joyce Carol Oates
New to Joyce Carol Oates? You should read...
6th out of 24 books — 11 voters
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I Like Serial Killers
451st out of 684 books — 1,116 voters

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Jul 15, 2012 Janellyn51 rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure why I liked this book as much as I did, but I did. I've never read anything by Joyce Carol Oates before. When we were driving to Baltimore recently to go to my guys father's funeral, Simon mentioned the Pine Barrens. I'd never heard of them before, but the area and the people piqued my interest. We found a small book from the 70's about them...they're in New Jersey, a densly populated, by pines, area of New Jersey, the people there are referred to as Pineys, and sound rather singula ...more
Feb 07, 2012 Chere rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary, mystery
Oates is truly a master at characterization. Even the characters who where absent in the course of the novel were so well-defined I felt like I knew them. The author is also a master at depicting intense emotions, obsessions; it is disturbing how these feelings radiate throughout the story. I wasn't quite sympathetic with the protagonist as he was plagued by his own obsessions that were rather frightening, but that is simply a fulfillment of his character. This is not one of my favorite Oates wo ...more
Lynne Lowe
I loved this book! It's a creepy, disturbing, suspenseful thriller. It held my attention from start to finish. I will never let other reader's opinion sway me from reading a book. Also, "Smith" is her married name. I assume that is why she used it. I definitely plan to read more novels she wrote as Rosamond Smith. The only thing that disappointed me was not knowing what the two detectives said to Matt after finding out the truth.
Oct 03, 2008 June rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Joyce Carol Oates "writing as Rosamond Smith." I can see why she didn't want to put her name on this one...Interesting note: Not one single character in the book has a pet. And there is not one mention of an animal. Unless you count, "he was fishing." It's the Pine Barrens WILDERNESS. Not even a squirrel. Nothing. Weird... Here is a haiku about the book:

Is Matt the killer?
What about the evil twins?
I don't understand.
Mar 14, 2015 Sherri rated it it was amazing
This is actually Joyce Carol Oates writing as Rosamond Smith. I really like the stories she puts out under Rosamond Smith - they are more easily read than many of her other novels.

This one is about Matt who becomes obsessed with the disappearance of a young artist in his town. The artist, Duana, unbeknownst to Matt has fallen victim to a serial killer.

As the story unravels you learn more about the serial killer and how Matt is tied to the first woman the serial killer ever killed. Matt leaves wi
Oct 20, 2008 Melissa rated it it was ok
I wasn't that impressed. I thought it was slow and it didn't do a very good job of holding my interest. I'm usually a big fan of Joyce Carol Oats writing and I was disappointed with this book.
Josh Ang
Jan 25, 2011 Josh Ang rated it it was ok
This is the first JC Oates book that I didn’t enjoy. Written under one of her pen names, Rosamond Smith, this less-than-engaging thriller centred on a thirty-something real estate agent Matt McBride, who is forced to confront his memories of the abduction and murder of his high school crush, when a young female artist disappears.

Matt’s connection and attraction to this missing girl is never fully nor convincingly explained, which leaves the reader wondering about his obsession with her. Did he o
May 03, 2009 El rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 21st-centurylit
And I remember now why I went almost ten years without reading Joyce Carol Oates. Even this book, written under a pseudonym, is your basic trash. I thought maybe the serial killer "suspense" aspect of it would at least make it an interesting read. Oh, so sorely mistaken.

Like her older books that I read years ago this read like textual vomit on soiled toilet paper, sewn together with used dental floss. Which, interestingly enough, is the exact way I described her ten years ago when I initiated my
Thomas Rose-Masters
Aug 21, 2013 Thomas Rose-Masters rated it really liked it
Joyce Carol Oates' incredibly prolific output has stirred quite a few literary ghosts, many critics believing that no person producing such an astounding body of literary and non-literary work can maintain the required (?) and sufficient level of quality. Those puerile qualifications aside, such is the flow of Ms. Oates' writing that at one point she found it necessary to utilize a pseudonym to cover some of her more genre-based experiments in literature.

Reportedly, her fist aim was to allow he
Nov 22, 2013 Trenton rated it it was ok
Sometimes I don't get enthusiastic about an author until I finally own one of their books. When I saw The Barrens at a secondhand shop, I picked it up thinking it would be a good introduction to Oates. Apparently I am dead wrong.

What I liked least about the novel was the insincerity of the characters. The protagonist has so much emotion and love inside of him that it makes him unstable and unbelievable (those artist types, you know). His own children seem like stock characters written into the
Apr 13, 2009 Brenna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mathias MacBride hat die Tote aus dem Moor nie gesehen, doch das Mädchen, das zwei Klassen über ihm war und das er zu seiner Schulzeit nicht kannte, bereitet ihm auch zwanzig Jahre später noch Alpträume. Der Täter, der sein Opfer in einem sumpfigen Naturschutzgebiet drapierte, wurde nie gefasst. Mathias ist besessen von dem Gedanken, dass er Marcey damals nicht vor ihrem schrecklichen Tod retten konnte. Mathias Alpträume beunruhigen inzwischen sogar seine Frau Tess, aber über den Grund, das Vers ...more
Mar 21, 2016 Esther rated it did not like it
It was disappointing, but I can't say why. It took me ages to finish. I found myself falling asleep. The chapters narrated by name unknown were the worst chapters to get through. The overuse of ampersand (&) was distracting. I ended up counting them to see how many the author had used. I don't understand why the author used so many. What was the purpose of so many?
I disliked Matt very much. He seemed obsessive and unlikeable. I did not care about any of the living characters.
Not a good read
Kelly Stubbart
there is a thin line between art and pathos. in this book, Joyce Carol oates magnificently weaves this theme and the eternal questions (how well do we know others? how well do we know ourselves?) into a novel that is very thought provoking. highly recommended.
Jun 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Barrens was my first book that I have read by Joyce carol Oats. I do not know what her other books have been like. For me personally I really enjoyed The Barrens. I found this a gripping thriller.
Nov 03, 2014 Carol rated it liked it
I am a Joyce Carol Oates fan but find "The Barrens" a disturbing look at people and their compulsions and obsessions. Very dark. I don't think you will find me in the Jersey Pine Barrens on a nature walk anytime soon.
Sep 22, 2010 Sharyn rated it liked it
I chose this book because I wanted to read novels by Joyce Carol Oates, and this was one of the two available at the Seward Library. (Oates wrote as Rosamond Smith.)

I normally don't choose psychological thrillers. I didn't like the two main characters: the serial killer and Matt, a real estate salesman and married womanizer. I really never cared if either of them would live through the book. At some point, however, the book became a page turner and it had a fitting ending.

Throughout the book I h
Max Taintor
Aug 18, 2014 Max Taintor rated it liked it
Good character profile - not suspenseful.
Dec 30, 2013 Steph rated it liked it
Ms. Oates usually gets five stars from me right out of the gate,no matter what she writes, but I did not jump up and down over this book. I hated the ending. I doubt I would ever give her one star. Three here because of some of the outstanding observations by the seriously dysfunctional characters. Rosamund Smith has a fascination with twins that makes me keep reading her to try and figure her out.

Still, JC Oates's not-so-good is better than many writer's outstanding.

May 28, 2012 Steven rated it did not like it
Shelves: thriller, read-2012
Crime drama about a well to do real estate agent and sometime photographer who cheats on his wife and becomes a suspect in a murder committed by a serial killer. I usually like this type of novel, but I did not like this book. I did not like the main character, and he did not interest me. I found the serial killer to be boring, of no interest; not that he wasn't a devil, but the writer failed to keep my interest in him. Reading this book was painful. I was glad when it was over.
Mar 24, 2016 Ellie rated it did not like it
Too dark and demented for me......
alessandra falca
Ho letto libri migliori della Oates ma, facendo un rapido resoconto, ne ho letti più belli che brutti e quando si tratta di una scrittrice che ha scritto decine e decine di libri, accetto anche il meno entusiasmante. Il libro dunque non è brutto ma non entusiasma. La storia è rivista, la Oates scrive bene ma alla fin fine cosa resta? Poco o niente tra un paio di settimane nella mia mente. Non demordo e ritento. La Oates merita il nobel.
Sep 21, 2009 Clare rated it it was ok
As always, Oates develops & conveys the psychology of her characters extremely well. (I say "Oates" because Rosamond Smith is one of her pseudonyms.)

However, the book didn't keep my attention well for about the whole 1st half of the book. In the 2nd half, I finally caught on and the plot progressed to a more intense and attention-grabbing level.

Oates is still one of my favorites. But this isn't one of her best books.
Jan 01, 2011 Gwynne rated it it was ok
Clean prose and deals with place in an innovative way, but its genre limitations forced so much emphasis on plot to the detriment of the story. I would have gone in for this novel more had it been shortened. Once I had a clear view of the serial killer's motivations and psychology, I started to tire of his sections in the novel.
Oct 25, 2014 Anita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Heel boeiend. Heel precies geschreven.
Dit is een roman over identiteit, obsessie en verlangen. De drie hoofdpersonages zijn kunstenaar, ieder op hun eigen manier. Ze hebben alledrie een alter ego: Duana Zwolle in haar eeneiige tweelingzus Ruellen, Matt McBride in Nighthawk en Joseph Gavin in Name Unknown. En ze verlangen.
Edwina Hall Callan
Jun 15, 2013 Edwina Hall Callan rated it did not like it
Shelves: bookcrossing, 2013
I wish I could think of something good to say about this book but it was so slow paced and boring and Matt McBride, the wanna be Hero of the book, is such a slimey little snake that halfway through the book I was wishing the serial killer would "off" him.
Mar 26, 2010 Veronica rated it did not like it
uh i don't know where to start off but i didn't like the book at all i got lost like in the third page i didn't care what happen or paid attention to the story like i said it was to ME my worst book i ever read so far
This was hard to rate. It's compelling and mysterious which almost bumps it to a 4. The weakness lies in the uncertainty. Too much is left unsaid for it to be satisfying. 3 stars it is.
Sep 06, 2013 John rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
One of the more frightening books I've read since "Silence of the Lambs."
Very disturbing, but very well written.
Shane Lusher
May 03, 2008 Shane Lusher rated it it was ok
This is Joyce Carol Oates' trash-writer pseudonym. Decent pulp, not the best, but it held my attention.
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Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She is also the recipient of the 2005 Prix Femina for The Falls. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and she has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978. Pseudonyms ... Rosamond Smith and Laure ...more
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