Friday, October 29, 2010

A Review of 'The River' by Mary Jane Beaufrand

"Veronica Severence feels cut off from the world. Forced to move from the city to rural Oregon with her parents, she is haunted by loneliness and the chilling sounds of the Santiam, the river that runs through her backyard.

Through the fog of isolation, Ronnie finds herself becoming close with Karen, a young girl whom she babysits. But when she discovers Karen's body on the banks of the Santiam, Ronnie feels compelled to uncover the truth.

As she becomes increasingly obsessed with solving the mystery of Karen's death, Ronnie is led deeper and deeper into the woods surrounding the river and to the dark secret hidden within its midst.

The River is a darkly atmospheric story of murder, isolation, obsession, and deadly secrets that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page."

I finished this book last night in the wee hours of morning (11:00pm). Throughout the last few nights of reading, a few things have bothered me about this book:

1. The spelling mistakes. There were so many! Some words we missing letters, some sentences were missing entire words... it was grammar freak's worst nightmare! (Actually, this is a complete exaggeration, I'm completely positive that there are worse spellers out there). I had more of a rant written down (I draft these posts, you know), but I'm not going to include the rest, because you'll probably hate me.

2. Some of the pieces of the story felt arbitrary. For example, when a character named Keith comes up to Ronnie and her friend Gretchen and says that Gretchen should host a party to make Ronnie feel better-- distract her at the very least. I stopped reading when I got to that part and then I read it again because I couldn't help but think, "What?!" I felt like there wasn't anything leading up to this moment. The party scene felt thrown in. I can just imagine someone saying something along the lines of , "Well, all of the great books have drunken teenage party scenes, so let's add one here!" Parties don't solve all of our problems. In the book and in real life. Also, Keith just felt like a random character to me because he came in once early in the book and he wasn't that great. He barely said anything. But as you read on, he becomes a bigger part.

3. Veronica Severence and Ronnie are the same person. As I was reading, I wasn't aware of this. So when I read 'Veronica,' I'm just thinking, "Who the heck is she?" Now I know. I felt a little stupid that I didn't make the connection. Maybe it was my fault, but it felt like there wasn't anything indicating that these two names belonged to the same person. Ronnie's parents called her Ronnie, her friends called her Ronnie... I can't remember a single time when Ronnie told someone she didn't know that her name was Veronica Severence (isn't that what you do when you're trying to be formal and polite to someone that you don't know?).

That's enough negativity. I usually have glowing reports for my reviews. Even though these things bother me, there were still some nice things about this book.

Overall, I liked the writing style of the author. Her descriptions provided imagery and I even cringed outwardly a few times-- a rarity in itself. I usually cringe with any mention of needles. There were needles, there were other instances too.

One thing you should know is that this whole story revolves around meth. But it's not obvious in the beginning (that would actually be pretty dumb just to give everyone the answer like that... the story would have to be arranged differently to accommodate that). There are signs in the middle of the books, but you wouldn't know that unless you knew the symptoms that meth users show. Pay attention to Gretchen. That's my hint to you. Also, I do believe that rhymed.

This book was okay. I probably won't go out to the bookstore and buy it, but it was a decent read. I don't feel like my time was wasted. I actually wanted to get through it, because I was enjoying it.

Another warning to you, if you're sensitive to reading about drug use, I would not recommend that you pick this up.

Thanks for reading!


P.S. If you have any recommendations or if you have something that you're on the fence about reading, I'm all ears.

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