I’ve never read anything by Laurie R. King before and I’ve heard from a number of people that her series is really good, so I figured I’d try this new standalone novel to see if I like her writing.
Her writing isn’t bad, but the structure of this book drove me crazy. CRAZY! The chapters are usually 1-3 pages long, with just a few longer ones. We follow maybe a dozen different characters.
Each character’s story is intriguing. In fact, each character could easily have their own book. But instead, King threw them all together, rather roughly, into this one. The over all premise of catastrophe at a school is good. I loved Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes and wanted this to be similar. I’m not really sure what I got but it was not Nineteen Minutes.
Again, I felt like I was reading 10 different books and it took me almost 200 pages to keep the characters straight because we never see them longer than a page or two at a given time. But once I could keep them straight I was invested in each and every story.
Unfortunately, I only got a resolution for one story line, and even that wasn’t as strong of a resolution as I would have liked. But most of the characters were just… left. We saw them, we had questions, and then it was over.
The end did surprise me. The “bad guy” was a shock. What I expected the catastrophe to be was not what happened at all. So that was amazing!
But I want closure for these characters! I read the author’s acknowledgement at the end of the novel and she says that this book started as a number of short stories. Which makes a lot of sense because for most of the book you’re wondering “why am I getting all these stories? How do they fit together?” And even having finished the book, I’m not sure they do. Other than all these stories weave together a good school story. Because you never really know what the person sitting next to you is going through.
So read it, or don’t. If you can wade through 250+ pages to get the good 100 or so pages at the end then give it a try. If you have too many other things to read, don’t move this up your priority list. Unless you love character studies. Then this might be just the thing for you.