Beth's Reviews > The Donor

The Donor by Helen  Fitzgerald
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This book is, frankly, trashy. Really trashy. The characters are paper-thin (the dutiful but boring dad! the flighty drug-addict runaway mum! her scumbag husband! the bad twin, all sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll and screaming fits! the good twin, all saintly halo and perfect temper!) and never once ascend above the annoying stereotypes they have been given. The twins are particularly frustrating characters - Georgie, the "bad" twin, is not "bad" in as in "evil", but she is foul-tempered, foul-mouthed, violent and she has always been this way. Kay, on the other hand, is perfect. Sweet, loving, ambitious, NEVER a cross word to her dad. There are simply no people like this, no people who are such extremes. And it is vital to sympathise with the twins, which I didn't.

The plotting is addictive but atrocious. I read this one really quickly, and I didn't stop reading for a lot of it. It's fast-paced and the writing is so minimalist that you can get through a lot very snappily. But Fitzgerald totally fails to capitalise on any of the interesting things about her premise. Should he let one girl die? Will only contemplates that very briefly, and while on drugs. Doesn't go through with the organ donation thing. The twist about the parentage is no twist at all because it's obvious from the start. The plotting is pure pulp, with a special mention to the end, which is so XXX that I spent most of it saying, "Oh, God, it's not going there..." (but it is, and it's sad that the novel had to end on such a duff note, because my rating might have been kinder had that not left a sour taste in my mouth.)

There are so many strands that seem pointless or left hanging, such as Georgie's brief, bizarre non-relationship with the seventeen-year-old stalker Will hires to track down Georgie's mother, which just ends, or my personal favourite, Will's relationship with Linda, which seems to be there solely to assure the adult readers that, really, ignore the two eighteen-year-olds that are central to the plot, this is not a YA novel. I have no problem with sex scenes, even the S+M ones on display here - they're not at all graphic, but they are so pointless and gratuitious, contributing absolutely nothing to the plot except another character and a bit of very "adult" sex. Yawn. It felt like it was supposed to be funny, which it wasn't.

And yet the writing is good. The humour is especially great. Even though I don't have my book to hand, I can still summon up this one from my memory: Will is watching his twin girls in the hospital beds, both of them are very sick and he's beside himself with worry: "Will would have shot himself right then and there had his gun not been filed under G in his filing cabinet."
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