Saturday, September 27, 2008

Boy Heaven by Laura Kasischke

This book, while vague in its synopsis and recommended with such comments as " eerie sense of apprehension that the pages keep turning" (SJL) and "...a genuine shock of an ending" (Joyce Carol Oates), turned out to be extremely disappointing. In my opinion, there was very little, if any, suspense.

Kristy and her two friends sneak out from their cheerleading camp and decide to take a trip to a nearby lake that claims to be the deepest in the state. When they stop for gas, they eye a pair of boys gawking at them and Kristy, in her kind nature, smiles at them. Next thing they know, the boys are spotted following them to the lake. After changing their minds and going back to camp, the girls decide to flash the boys as they drive past them. Her one friend (a red-headed Kristi) suddenly stops eating and proclaims that she's seen the guys staring at her and talking through the screen of the cabin. Her other friend (Desiree) claims to have also seen the boys and that they watched her have sex in the woods before left her a threatening note on her cot. Kristy, though, doesn't believe any of this. After sneaking out with Desiree and her boyfriend, they stumble upon the truth about the boys, which is not what you'd expect.

This book had a lot of potential, but fell through on its delivery. The author, a poet, writes too poetically. For me there presence of similes and metaphors became overpowering and overly annoying. To be honest, the description drove me crazy! It really detracted from the story and I found myself skimming a lot of the novel (something I rarely, if EVER do!) The author also included a lot of back information about the narrator as she remembers trips with her parents or some boy's obsession with her or a chapter about the narrator's evaluations of cops and self defense. Those parts had no relevance to the story. They just dragged it out. The suspense was very sporadic and unimpressive. All of the threatening parts happened to people other than the narrator. If it's from her point of view, she should have been the one seeing the boys in the woods, not someone else. If she doesn't believe the other people, how is she going to be scared? If we're supposed to feel threatened as the readers, we're going to pick up on the emotions of the narrator and if she's not scared, how are we supposed to be terrified? That disconnect weakened the affect of the novel. I kept holding out that the "shock of an ending" would redeem the novel, but it did little for me.

This novel was a huge letdown. It wasn't scary and the description slowed everything down. For a novel that had a lot of potential, it was just so disappointing to read it.

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