Book Review: Dismantled

Dismantled

Jennifer McMahon

Harper

432 pages

So I think we’re all familiar with the old adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover”.  I hate to say it, but when applied literally to actual books, it’s hard NOT to.  So I admit it, and I am not ashamed at all—I always judge a book by its cover!

Dismantled is the perfect example of how I am affected by covers.  I saw it and I instantly wanted to read it. The girl on the cover looks both a little bit creepy and a little forlorn. And it seems more artistic than just a cutesy little girl.

The premise of the book makes it even better.  You have four college friends—Suz, Winnie (fka Val), Henry and Tess—who call themselves the Compassionate Dismantlers and spend the summer after graduation together in a little ramshackle cabin living in the middle of the woods in Vermont.  To understand what the Dismantlers are all about, here’s their creed—

To understand the nature of a thing, it must be taken apart

And there you have it.  They like to dissect, perform arson and basically just mess with people.  In fact, I wasn’t a big fan of the Dismantlers.  Suz was the group leader and to say she cared little about anyone else’s feelings would be putting it mildly. She just seemed like a raging bitch who expected everyone to bow down to her as she trampled all over them.  I am guessing it was some type of insecurity but I didn’t feel like the reader was given enough personal information about her to make a judgment either way.  I’ll just say that she had me more frustrated and irritated than any other character I’ve read about in a long time.  Any one else have that reaction?

Ok, so all of a sudden the Dismantlers summer ends in a horrible, tragic way with the death of Suz.  Obviously part of the mystery to the reader is how did she die? Why?  McMahon kept us in suspense!  All we know is that Tess and Henry, now the married parents of a nine year old named Emma, feel an enormous amount of guilt over what happened to Suz.  So when she all of a sudden seems to be haunting them, they try hard to ignore it while still coming to terms with what happened ten years earlier.

Did I like this book?  Honestly, I am not quite sure.  As far as a mystery goes, it was actually pretty sucky if you want my opinion.  Did I see it coming?  No.  The things that were happening though were so wacky and hard to string together though that I really couldn’t fathom what was going on.  It seemed like a novice’s attempt at writing a mystery.  I found the book readable and, like I was telling my sister, it reminded me of The Secret History, by Donna Tartt, albeit a subpar version.  Even so, it had that comparison going for it.

In a nutshell, I really disliked two of the main characters (Winnie and Suz), while I felt that Henry and Tess were both too passive.  For instance, their marriage is falling apart but they keep expecting the other person to make a move to fix things.  And then you have the unbelievable twists and turns of the story.  So while entertaining, this book definitely had some major flaws for me.  Even so, I would recommend it as a great summer read.

Other Reviews:

The Book Zombie

Jenn’s Bookshelves

Lit & Life

Bookalicious

Chick with Books

drey’s library

I borrowed this book from my local library.

This book counts towards the Debutante Ball challenge!


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Book Review: The Little Giant of Aberdeen County

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County

Tiffany Baker

Grand Central Publishing

368 pages

Truly is an abnormally large person.  Even before she was born, her size was the topic of conversation, with the issue culminating in her mother’s death during childbirth.  From that point on, the odds are stacked against Truly.  She is unwanted by almost everyone, not to mention the fact that she is constantly in the shadow of her gorgeous and popular sister Serena Jane.

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County spans decades.  Throughout Truly’s schooling and continuing on throughout her adult life, Truly is an outcast.  She has only a few close friends–one being Amelia, the mute girl that grows up as a sister to Truly.  Their friendship is as close as can be, which plays a huge role towards the end of the book.  In fact, there are certain choices Amelia makes during the course of the book that cause major ramifications for both women and that was what struck me the most about this book.

Serena Jane was another interesting factor in Little Giant.  She grew up as the popular girl with her peers fawning over her constantly.  Her life takes a wrong turn though when she loses her virginity and becomes pregnant.  The father of the child is Robert (Bob Bob) Morgan IV and he and Serena Jane get married out of high school and lead what appears to be a “normal” life.  What Serena Jane does when their son is just a few years old is another circumstance in the book that gave me pause.  As with Amelia’s situation, I could empathize and sympathize despite the reprehensible behavior both women exhibited. 

Did I like this book?  I’m still not sure, to be honest.  Obviously there was a lot for me to reflect upon, which is great, but I thought Little Giant was slow at times and I don’t think I ever got fully involved.  Maybe my problem was that I was unable to connect with Truly.  A lot of times I didn’t understand her actions and it left me frustrated.  I have been wanting to read this book practically since it was releasecd, so I am glad I read it but I’m not bowled over by any means.

This book counts towards The Debutante Ball challenge.

Other Reviews:

The Book Lady’s Blog

Booking Mama

BermudaOnion’s Weblog

Caribous Mom

Devourer of Books

5 Minutes for Books

This book was provided to me by the publisher for review purposes.

Sunday Salon

This week I read two books.

A Convenient Marriage, Georgette Heyer

The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery

Both were fantastic in their own ways.

On another note, I had my first DNF in a loooong time.  And I read about half of it because I just wanted to like it so badly.  The title I am referring to is . . .

Honestly, I am not sure why I was so excited to read this, because my reaction to Uglies was not much better.  I read it about a year and a half ago and since then I have really gotten into YA dystopian fiction, so I thought Pretties would be great.  Unfortunately I found it too juvenile and simplistic, which is unfortunate because the plotline is a good one!

On another note, I guess it is becoming standard for me to join at least one challenge a week.  Because that is the rate at which I am performing right now.  So which challenge is it this week?  The Debutante Ball Challenge.  There are two parts to the challenge.  The first portion, which spotlights the debs in 2010 is hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.  The second portion of the challenge deals with debs from past years and that is hosted by Swapna at S Krishna’s Books.

Here is all the information about the challenge, which can be found on the official blog for this challenge.

The Debutante Ball is a group blog for debut authors, all women.  The blog is currently in its fourth year and has a track record of debuting some really great authors.  Swapna and I are both big fans, so we thought we would create this challenge in order to introduce the Debutante Ball and the fantastic Debs to more people.

There are two basic parts to this challenge, each of which I will describe only briefly (I’ll link you over to the FAQs for each, if you want more information).

The Current Debs Challenge

Host: Jen – Devourer of Books

Basically, the idea here is to read books by the 2010 Debs.  A list of all books by all members of The Debutante Ball can be found on the Debutante Ball books page.  We would love for you to read all five books by these five lovely ladies, but as we know that this may not be possible, so you can join at the 1, 3, or 5 book level.

For more information, check out the FAQs.  Or, go ahead and sign up!

The Previous Debs Challenge

Host: Swapna – S. Krishna’s Books

I’m sure you can all guess, but the idea here is to read books from the PREVIOUS Debs.  Again, ALL books by these ladies can be found on the Debutante Ball books page.  You’ll notice on that page that the author’s debut book is followed by (Deb 20xx), indicating which year they were originally part of the Debutante Ball.  We would strongly encourage those of you signing up for this portion of the challenge to make at least some of the books you read the author’s actual debut book.  You can sign up to read 2, 4, 6, or 8 books.

For more information, check out the FAQs.  Or, go ahead and sign up!

For Everyone

Yes you can:

  • Overlap with other challenges (although you can’t count books by the 2010 Debs in the Previous Debs Challenge if you are doing both)
  • Change your level of commitment – in fact, we hope you’ll love these books so much that you’ll decide you want to read all of them!

This challenge runs from January 1, 2010 – December 31, 2010.  Anyone who is signed up for either challenge by January 11th will be entered to win one Debutante Ball book.  If you’re signed up for both you’ll have two chances of winning!  We may also have a prize for one person who completes the challenge.

Please note:

  • If you sign up for both challenges, you can do so with a single post on your blog, but you must include it on both Mr. Linkys.
  • We are also asking that, as part of this challenge, you commit to reading and commenting on the Debutante Ball blog.  Obviously this is on your honor, but we would encourage you to set a goal for commenting as well, either a certain number of comments per week, or a certain number of comments for each Deb between now and August (the 2011 Deb class will begin blogging in September).

So, as is my usual style, I plan to aim low in the hopes that I may even exceed my expectations.  So I will be commiting to read one book from the 2010 debs and two books from the other group of debs.  Hopefully I will read more, but you never know.

I am not going to make a list right off the bat because I don’t know any of the books, with the exception of one--The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, by Tiffany Baker.  I have been wanting to read it for months now so it will be a good choice for the second part of the challenge.
I am also going to join this challenge.
Reason being I am intimidated by large books, so this will be a good motivation for me to pick up some larger books.  Anna Karenina, I am talking about you!

To find out more about this challenge, here is the official chunkster blog.

I will be signing up for the chubby chunkster level, which is 3 books.

So now I am off to brunch.  Later on today I hope to get some reading done.  I am currently reading The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder, by Rebecca Wells.  How is your Sunday going?