Engrossing plot involving a "re-education camp" with similarities to real-life "de-gaying camps." Well-written action scenes, swoony romance, and!!!!
Engrossing plot involving a "re-education camp" with similarities to real-life "de-gaying camps." Well-written action scenes, swoony romance, and exciting–OH SO EXCITING–character story arcs. Sydney's grown on me quite a bit since the first couple of books, and the Sydrian romance feels intimate and respectful and full of promise.
This has been amazing year for young adult literature for mature audiences. From The Miseducation of Cameron Post to the upcoming Monstrous Beauty, itThis has been amazing year for young adult literature for mature audiences. From The Miseducation of Cameron Post to the upcoming Monstrous Beauty, it's been incredibly exciting to find books that aren't afraid to push boundaries, ask questions, and immerse their readers in unusual literary styles. Is this in recognition that more and more adults are reading YA? Perhaps. I just hope the trend continues.
One of my favorite books this year is definitely Kat Rosenfeld's Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone. It's the story of Amelia Anne Richardson, a girl found brutally murdered on the side of a dirt road--but it's also the story of Becca, who is spending a last summer at home in her small town. It's a mystery without easy answers, it's a snapshot of a girl's coming into her own, and it's a sad, painful testament to the trauma that envelopes the end of a love affair.
Our first meeting was romantic. High school legend-like, it made me yearn to stay with him just for the chance to tell our kids someday about how their father had swept me off my feet at the tender age of sixteen. About the bonfire at Hunter's Point and the coltish-skinny, cigarette-smoking boy with shaggy hair, sitting apart from his friends, who looked across the flames at me with such intensity that he himself seemed to be on fire.
The writing is entrancing, with a slow, rhythmic cadence that captures the moody summer violence that both girls experience. It isn't an easy book or typical page-turning mystery by any means, and it's likely to be very polarizing in its style and its content. I'm not certain we ever get to know either girl as well as I would have liked, either, and I think I would have been more moved by their plight if their stories didn't parallel quite so much. But I still found myself fascinated by the language and the mystery of what happens to Amelia Anne and Becca, whose true fates seem elusive even at the conclusion of the book. Readers who appreciated the writing in Cameron Post or the dreamy smoke and mirrors of Imaginary Girls will likely fall in love with Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone, too.
This review also appears in The Midnight Garden. An advance copy was provided by the publisher. Recommended for mature YA readers only.
3.5 stars I eagerly anticipate every single book by Karin Slaughter, and she's never let me down when it comes to Will Trent and Sara Linton--and afte3.5 stars I eagerly anticipate every single book by Karin Slaughter, and she's never let me down when it comes to Will Trent and Sara Linton--and after last year's fantastic Fallen, I was really excited to read her new book. Criminal is, however, my least favorite book by this author yet, and the first book in the Georgia series that I've rated less than 4 stars. After thoroughly enjoying each of the previous (12?) novels in this series, it's something of a shock to find myself with such mixed/negative feelings about this one.
The two things that normally make Karin Slaughter books so damned good are crackling, suspenseful mysteries and strong characters that you passionately care about. In Criminal, those elements are woefully obscured by the book's structure (too many POVs, many of which are too long for secondary characters), too much focus on Amanda Wagner's past (which sounded like such a great idea, except that she's much less compelling and sympathetic as a young rookie), and a serious lack of time spent on the central characters we've come to know. The starts and stops of the many, many characters POVs make for a jumbled narrative and a frustrating reading experience, and they detract from both the cleanness of the plotting and any emotional response we might've had to the characters. I'm frankly very surprised that a Slaughter book would be this messy.
Eventually, the central mystery is an interesting one, if a bit on the predictable side. The little we see of the Will/Sara/Angie dynamic continues to be fascinating. The flashback sections that took place in the 70s did provide a few good things: it was kind of neat to see Evelyn Mitchell's early career since we all know how it later turns out, a bit about Will's early beginnings, and through Amanda, it was interesting to read about how female police officers were treated back then. But the issues of discrimination, as well as so many others, were done with a much less expert hand than I'm used to seeing in Slaughter's books. Even the level and detail of the violence, which the author's been criticized for and I've never had a problem with before, seemed unnecessarily extra brutal and verging on salacious here. For the first time in reading this author's work, I felt serious twinges of distaste as I read about (view spoiler)[women being sewn to mattresses, women with their mouths and eyelids sewn shut or open, etc, etc (hide spoiler)]; it's not what happens, as I've read similar levels of violence or worse, it's the repetitive way these things are presented to us, without the appropriate subsequent gravity and care to balance it out. When I think about the awful thing that happens to Lena's sister in the very first Slaughter book, ((view spoiler)[a blind woman is savagely attacked in a public restroom, and the killer opens up a wound in her torso and rapes it while she's still conscious (hide spoiler)], and how well the author handled both the procedural and emotional effects of that, I am especially surprised at how clumsily heavy-handed this new book seems to be.
So I would just say that if you're considering reading this series, definitely don't start with this one. They should be read in order anyway (I put the order in my review of the first book, Blindsighted), and the others are much, much better. I'm still a big fan of this author's work, but for the first time, I'm going to be anticipating the next one with muted expectations. Fingers crossed she returns to her usual excellent form next year. ...more