by Gretchen McNeil
September 18, 2012
Balzer + Bray
Source: Southern Book Bloggers ARC Tours
And their doom comes swiftly.
It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.
But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.
Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine? (Taken from Goodreads.)
My Take On It
So when I first read the synopsis of Ten I was STOKED. All I could think of was this:
|Ryan Philipe AND Freddie Prinze, Jr.? Eeep!|
|Drew Barrymore receiving top billing |
over Rose McGowan and Matthew Lilliard?
Teen Slasher films, YES! I have loved them since my babysitter snuck me into the drive-in theater with her friends to watch Friday the 13th part something (I think it was 3 or 4.) And yes, I did just date myself, TREMENDOUSLY. There were drive in theater's still around when I was a kid. Ah, memories... Anyhow, I've always been a fan. Love the old ones: Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, etc. and love the 90's versions like the ones above. So I knew that I was IN when I heard about Ten. Did the book live up to my expectations? Kind of and kind of not.
Ten is a retelling of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None (ATTWN) I love Agatha Christie books (Death on the Nile is my personal fave) but I am guessing I had not read ATTWN because the plot of Ten was unfamiliar to me. In a nutshell, the story opens with friends Meg and Minnie setting out for Henry Island just off Seattle in Puget Sound. Meg is not too thrilled about attending the exclusive party of their high school's head cheerleader but lets her friend Minnie talk her into it. Meg lets Minnie talk her into EVERYTHING it seems (more on that later.) Meg doesn't exactly hang with the in-crowd in school and to make matters worse the guy she has been crushing on for-evah, T.J., is going to be there. Why is this a bad thing? Three days on a remote island with your dream guy and no supervising adults should be awesome, right? Well there is a hitch (isn't there always??) Minnie also has a crush on T.J. Uh oh. But Meg, being the
pushover bestest friend that she is, has decided to sacrifice her feelings for T.J. and attend the party with Minnie.
Immediately we sense ominous and foreboding things lie ahead. There is a big storm coming. There is only one way off the island: by boat. There is no cell phone service. It's the off season and most of the island's other inhabitants are gone. And of course, all the teens have lied to their parents so NO ONE knows they are there. Perfect pickings for a deranged serial killer with a grudge.
Ten is told in 3rd person perspective which I often have a hard time reading. Unless the characters are really fleshed out and three dimensional, I seem to feel a disconnect when reading this POV. That was the case with Ten. Unfortunately I was not very wowed by our cast of ten teens. And this feeling started with the narrator, Meg. Meg has likable qualities: she's smart, has a good sense of humor, likes to write, and truly is the most loyal friend. Loyal to the point of irritating. Loyal to the point of foolishness. I understand that she must be this way in order for this story to work but gosh, I just had a really hard time feeling much for her when she let's Minnie manipulate her so often. Now there did come a point in the story where Meg begins to stand her ground but to me it was too little too late. You can be a good friend to someone without enabling their manipulative tendencies.
As for the other characters, we are only allowed spare glimpses into their lives and this is because part of the suspense of the story is not knowing who to trust. Not knowing who is telling the truth and who is the murderer. But I think if a just a little more time had been spent on fleshing out these characters it would have helped. I had a hard time distinguishing who was who, little about their personalities made them stand out individually. I guess in the end it doesn't really matter because they all end up dying as the book progresses (well, almost all of them.)
And I have to say that the creative ways in which the murderer picked them off was one of my favorite aspects of the book. I am really enjoying the horror/ suspense trend in YA lit these days. I have always loved mystery/ suspense, but books like Anna Dressed in Blood and The Diviners have really amped up the gruesome factor and I LOVE it:)
As far a plot goes it was a bit predictable. Having not read (or remember reading) ATTWN, I didn't know the ending, but I had suspicions from the beginning. For the record I guessed the murderer early on, then changed my mind only to discover it was that person in the end. So I was mildly surprised. And there is a villainous monologue at the end which always elicits an eye roll or two from me. In addition, there were some twists to the plot that didn't make a lot of sense or seemed a bit too convenient, but overall I enjoyed the story and found it to be suspenseful and creepy.
There is a romance angle but unfortunately it was lackluster in my opinion. I didn't get any butterflies or quickened pulse while reading those parts and really didn't think it enhanced the story much in the end.
But where McNeil excels in Ten is in atmosphere and setting. I love that the book takes place in the stormy Pacific Northwest on a remote island. Having been to that area of the country I can tell you it is a perfect setting to have a group of teenagers trapped and at the mercy of a psychotic killer. I loved the descriptions of the rising tides which trapped the kids in the house during certain parts of the day rendering escape attempts useless. I also enjoyed the descriptions of the house and grounds. It had a Gothic feel to it which a favorite genre of mine.
In summation, Ten did a great job setting a foreboding mood and tense atmosphere . Having not read the Agatha Christie novel on which it is based, the plot and mystery worked for me. But the underdeveloped characters and lackluster romance keeps me from scoring this book higher. I do love this horror trend that is developing and I think this would be a great book to pick up near Halloween. It's not I Know What You Did Last Summer or Scream, but it has it's moments. I'm kind of nit picky too so don't just take my word for it. Go check this one out for yourself and see if Ten will be a bigger hit for you:)
Check out author Gretchen McNeil's website HERE.
Check out some other reviews of Ten: