Joan Swan's Reviews > Undone

Undone by Karin Slaughter
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Sep 29, 2011

really liked it
Read in January, 2011

I was introduced to Karen Slaughter by chance when I picked up her book Shattered, the one that preceeds this novel, Undone.

In comparison to Undone and the following novel I'm currently reading, Broken, Shattered starts far quicker, dragging the reader into the action quicker. I'm not sure why her style changed, because in my opinion, Shattered ROCKED! But I can't say Undone and Broken don't. They are also fantastic...they just get off to a little slower start. No big deal. But that's the only reason I gave Undone a 4 star instead of a 5 -- because I got restless for the real story to start.

What I've become absolutely addicted to in Karin Slaughter's books is her characters. All her characters, but especially her two main protagonists, the detectives who solve these murders, agents for the GBI, Will Trent (who I may have had an affinity for in Shattered, but who I fell completely in love with in Undone) and Faith Mitchell, who truly comes into her own in this novel.

But Slaughter's character development doesn't stop there. Her victim's characters are a big part of her plot development, as victimology is a major part of solving crime. But I have to admit, I'm partial to Slaughter's technique of showing the killer through the victim's eyes instead of the killer's own eyes. I don't enjoy being inside a killer's head, and honestly, they're all quite similar. The victim's on the other hand are vastly different and handle their circumstances differently showing the reader both their own character and the killer's at the same time. I find her technique much richer and more engaging. But the real victim characterization comes when Will and Faith are going through the person's background in an effort to discover why the killer chose them. Slaughter's depth of depiction of each individual is truly amazing.

Will is so completely tortured--and, yes, I am the quintesential SUCKER for a tortured hero. But Slaughter never TELLS us he was tortured, at least not in the "typical" way many authors tell. She mentions his background now and then, but only with a very superficial touch, allowing us to fill in the blanks with what she SHOWS us in his mannerisms, his speech, his ideas, his though processes, his relationships, his actions. It's truly a beautifully artful depiction.

About 3/4 of the way through Undone, I was truly tormented for both Will and Faith, but for different reasons related to their individual weaknesses, past traumas and current struggles. I'm in awe of how strongly character driven her novels are. I haven't been caught up in characters like this in longer than I can remember.

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