Tuesday, April 08, 2014

You Know What You Have To Do by Bonnie Shimko

This novel, while enjoyable and a quick read, seems to miss its potential. It has a great storyline, but it focuses more on the mundane rather than the intriguing.

Mary-Magdalene (aka Maggie or Mare) has this problem where she hears an evil voice in her head that tells her to kill people. The throbbing headache that accompanies the voice makes it so that the only thing she can do to alleviate the problem is to listen to the voice. When the novel starts, she has already killed one person. However, he was beating up his wife and Maggie's friend, so in a way, she was doing them a favor. While Maggie is dealing with this voice, she deals with typical high school things - like a boy who likes her but to whom she doesn't return the feelings, a best friend who is suddenly beautiful and more popular than Maggie will be, and the opportunity to finally get her driver's license. Throughout the book, Maggie tries to cope with the voice and life in general.

As I write the summary for the book, I struggle to create the appeal that the book jacket created because overall, the voices in her head were not as prevalent as I was led to believe - which is where the story faltered. Most of the book felt like Maggie dealing with being a teenager. She's going to therapy and is more concerned with the hotness of her therapist than doing anything to get better. True, admitting you've killed people because the voices told you to do it is basically asking to get locked up, but she seemed so desperate to get help you want to scream at her to actually do something about it. Maggie is more concerned about getting caught than bothered by the fact that she killed people. So are we supposed to feel sorry for her - which you do a good portion of the book - or is she just as bad as the voice in her head? But then, like I said, that whole dilemma seems at times secondary to life in general. Come the end of the book, when tragedy strikes and Maggie ends up in a psychiatric ward, it has nothing to do with her actual issue and it never even comes up until the end of her stay. Then the book ends and you're left wondering if she's embracing this issue or what. During at least one point in the novel (although I'm sure it was more than once) I completely forgot she had this voice issue. Then it comes back at the end and you're simply left wondering why the book didn't start here. This book could very well have been like a teenage Dexter, but that excitement gets muddled with the mundane life of a teenager. The suspense simply wasn't constant.

This book had a lot of potential. It had a great concept that drew me in, but it wasn't built up enough and you're left feeling "meh" about the book.

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