I loved this book. I raced through it in four days and it was as good as my friends and sister said it was. It reads as a lighter, entertaining novel,I loved this book. I raced through it in four days and it was as good as my friends and sister said it was. It reads as a lighter, entertaining novel, but after sitting with it some more - you realize how deftly Stockett explored a lot of complex ideas.
My one complaint deals with the end, so rest is spoiler.
(view spoiler)[I felt like Stockett, for whatever reason (boredom, pressure, etc) rushed through the last chapters when the book comes out. I remember that we kind of wrap up Skeeter's and Minny's threads all at once - and then a few pages later we've wrapped up Aibelene's - and the book ends. I wanted more time with the book being released and the untangling that environment, and less time probably with the "hurry up and wait" once the writing was finished.
I also feel like the Minny/Celia relationship just kind of ended oddly too. One minute Minny is confiding in Celia, Celia thanks her - and that's the last we see of them talking. I would have loved that to have had some more. Especially more Celia. The drama between her and the other Jackson housewives was more interesting to me than the drama between Skeeter and Hilly, which got most of the attention. (hide spoiler)]...more
If you're not a young adult fan, but was intrigued by the concept - I'd recommend Battle Royale instead. Much bloodier and pretty much exactly the samIf you're not a young adult fan, but was intrigued by the concept - I'd recommend Battle Royale instead. Much bloodier and pretty much exactly the same without romance (that I can remember; I can't remember a lot but I really liked that book too).
I am a fan of YA novels and romantic comedies and dystopian worlds and basically everything this novel is. I'm not a fan of outdoor adventures (was maybe the lone kid who wasn't a fan of Gary Paulson in elementary school), but Collins even makes those elements engaging. So I devoured it happily.
Only negative I have to say is that Katniss does nothing for me. She comes off as pretty dense and close minded if you ask me. So if you're someone who really needs to get into your protaganists, and a one-dimensional stock "girl who had a tough childhood, over-attached to her dead father, now has to face the big bad world herself" doesn't appeal to you - then you might not like this so much....more
**spoiler alert** Ok while reading this book I'd give it four stars. Having finished it, I'm downgrading to three. It could be because I'm in that pos**spoiler alert** Ok while reading this book I'd give it four stars. Having finished it, I'm downgrading to three. It could be because I'm in that post-good-book wallow and I'm maybe unfairly saying "it's you, not me" to the book. And I think I'd even still recommend this book if only for the first 400 pages (out of 429). So without spoilers, if you like psychological thrillers with some great character development - you'll probably love this book too. It also reminded me a lot of Stieg Larsson's work - less detail oriented, but same kind of darkness and same kind of psychological twists and turns.
I was actually avoiding the books all the stores are comparing to Larsson if they involved formal police characters, because part of the attraction of Larsson's novels was the journalism and anti-police backdrop. French has proven me short sighted though and I will need to take another look at those other novels.
Having finished the novel there are three primary distinct reasons I feel unsettled. Only one of which, though, do I recognize as really warranted. Onto the spoilers. (view spoiler)[ 1. After finding out that Rosalind is an honest to goodness psychopath, I really wanted more exploration of her character. In the context of the novel we don't need it - we're told what we need to know to understand her motives (or lack thereof) and her methods regarding Katy's murder. I'm fascinated by these characters whenever I run into them, though, so the lack of more background is frustrating. This novel was a like a tease. But, the novel also isn't about Rosalind - in fact, it would be ruinous to give that much away earlier in the story - so I understand why it wouldn't make sense to include these details. I almost want a companion novella that is just Rosalind's life. At any rate, I'm still left wanting and unsatisfied.
2. Like anyone who's a fan of romantic comedies like I am, I would have liked Cassie and Ryan to at least make up. I didn't really like them together romantically, but I did really like them together as partners. The fact that that was shot to hell with no nice resolution just kills me. Again, though, it makes sense for this story. I've come to expect that kind of resolution because of other stories, but it's unfair and untrue to expect that from every relationship. I didn't much like Ryan throughout most of the novel, but I as left feeling sorry for him: he kept his job on the force, but it sounds like it's pretty demeaning and excruciating now; he doesn't have any close friends and doesn't much seem to even have the social skills to make new ones. He should just quit his job and move away and start fresh, which maybe in the future he does - we're just not privy to it. Or maybe he can't bring himself to due to his ties to the area and his past. Unable to leave in the same way Jamie's and Peter's families were unable to leave. (I know that French's second novel, The Likeness, features Cassie in a new story and maybe readers find out in that book what comes of Ryan. Until then we're left to wonder what happens after he's finished narrating his story to us.) Plus I like Sam a lot, but I don't like him for Cassie at all.
3. I really am frustrated that we never got any further information on the Jamie/Peter disappearance. This is also the one point that I feel like is a warranted frustration. Maybe we're supposed to assume that it was Cathal and Shane (I trust that Jonathan had nothing to do with it), but for me at least there wasn't nearly enough evidence to really prove that to any satisfying extent. I'm also usually pretty good with ambiguity in stories - while I like tidy resolution, I can recognize when it's not needed or when it's an unrealistic expectation (see points 1 & 2 above, for example). This is one area that I feel almost betrayed by. For so many chapters we weave inside this decades old tragedy, hinting that it may be connected, and trusting that even if it's not connected - some more information will come to light. And nothing does. Absolutely nothing new is discovered. Some might say that the facts aren't what matter, it's Ryan's own relationship to his past that's important. Even if I concede that, I don't really think Ryan has a much better relationship to his past. I think he's retreated back to the point where he's given up searching for answers and is resigned to never knowing. Maybe that's best for him, but it's not any kind of growth. Plus, I don't really even concede that that should be the point of this back-story: in a psychological suspense thriller, I feel like readers have an expectation for some kind of explanation; and we're never given one in the matter of this case. Instead it was just a tool to make Ryan connected to Katy's own death and mystery and to make the novel more layered. Without any follow-up though it just feels almost cheap and makes me feel lied to. (Again, though, maybe The Likeness follows up more. I've already compared the novel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and I know that that book had background we never discovered considering Lisbeth's past, while The Girl Who Played with Fire uncovered more of that for readers.) (hide spoiler)]
So that's about it. A good book and a well-written story, but left wanting in some key areas....more