Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bliss by Lauren Myracle

This novel, with it's 1969 time period and school dance with a blood obsession made me think of Stephen King's Carrie, especially when you throw in the poor girl who has no friends and is slightly possessed in her desire for acceptance. This book, however, is not a Carrie knock-off and proved to be a thrilling page-turner.

Bliss is the new girl in school. Sent to live with her grandmother after her hippie parents flee from a commune to Canada, Bliss is forced to enter the world of private school full of cliques and prejudices and ghosts. No one else seems to notice the ghostly presence, but Bliss does and it's not a friendly ghost. After watching a girl be snubbed because of her weight, Bliss befriends Sandy and their friendship seems great. When they visits the nursing home and Bliss learns about Liliana, the "ghost" of the school, Sandy suddenly starts acting strange and possessive over Bliss. As the plot thickens, Sandy longs to join with Liliana and take over the school, but that can only happen if Bliss helps, something she does not want to do. Can Bliss prevent Liliana and Sandy from taking over? Can she protect her friends and Sarah Lynn whom Sandy has a deep grudge? Will the prejudices of society cease?

At first this book intimidated me (I'll admit that I have a minor fear of thick books) but it proved to be a quick read that captures your attention and doesn't let go until the end, where it kind of falters. I'll admit that I was disappointed in the ending. I won't say that there's a happily ever after and I won't say that things don't work out in the end. All I will say is that I felt like it was a cop out. To me it felt like the author didn't want it to end the one way, so she made it head the other, but when they reached that point, she couldn't leave it there (for fear of displeasing the readers who want the other ending), so she made something up that left me unsatisfied. It felt very rushed, almost like a summary of what happened after the big event. Everything up the big event, however, was awesome. As the climax approached I moved to the edge of my seat and probably even held my breath. The author did a good job of making you feel sorry for Sandy and then fear her. There are some stylistic things with novel, like black pages filled with quotes from the Andy Griffith Show and songs and quotes from the Charles Manson trial (a historic event that sets some of the evil, bloody backdrop). The black pages don't really add much in terms of the story, but they were interesting to read. There are also journal entries from S.L.L. whose identity is cleverly misled (big gasp when I realized the truth) and who help reveal the truth behind characters that the first person narrator wouldn't know.

This book would be perfect if it weren't for the ending. It was full of twists and suspense and had me wanting to read more. It's just disappointing that the last ten pages fell flat. Ending aside, I still think it's a book others should read for a good chill.

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