Monday, March 19, 2007

To the Power of Three by Laura Lippman

This book is actually an adult book that (based on the cover) sounds like it might have young adult appeal. However, this post comes as a cautionary tale about not being deceived. Sometimes adult books are placed in the adult section for that reason. At the same time, sometimes books sound exciting on the back cover, when they are relatively dull and troublesome to read.
To the Power of Three is the story of three high school girls (young adult appeal) who are involved in a school shooting. According to the running story told to the police, Perri shot Kat and Josie and then shot herself. Kat was killed, Perri ended up in a coma, and Josie suffered a foot injury. Ever since the third grade these girls had been best friend, inseparable. However, something happened their senior year that wrecked the friendship of Perri and Kat. The full explanation of this story does not appear until the end of the novel.
Harold Lenhardt is the investigator on this case and doesn't feel it is as straightforward as Josie (the only one capable of explaining) tells it. Certain things just don't add up, which draws in the mystery and intrigue that this novel could have easily provided. On top of this, you have Kat's father Dale, the son of the developer of their hometown, a man with plenty of power to stir things up. You also have Peter, Kat's one time boyfriend who is now on his way to play Guy Pierce's younger brother in a movie. His importance in the novel does not show up until the last third of the book. And then there's Eve, a young girl who heard about the shooting and who might know more than she's saying.
This novel has plenty in it to hold your attention and weave an interesting tale. However, the delivery falls short, especially as the author spends too much time on character development and not enough time on plot. Most of the novel seemed to be one character's background after enough, leaving the actual murder investigation to the second half of the novel and even then it is further intermitten with background stories. This just drains the reader, making the novel seem like a struggle to finish. In the end, I don't know how much young adult appeal this novel has beyond taking place in a high school and involving teen girls. At the same time, I don't feel that it has much of any appeal as I didn't feel it was that good of novel.

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