Saturday, January 3, 2015

review: 17 & gone

Note: It's really hard to talk about this book sans spoilers. I've written a more spoilery review that you can read on Goodreads, but have tried to keep this spoiler-free.

It started with one girl -- Abigail Sinclair. First, Lauren saw the MISSING poster tacked up on a light pole, and then she saw her. Abby, whispering in her ear, riding beside her in her van, asking for help. After Abby there was Fiona, then Natalie, then other girls, so many of them Lauren stopped counting. All of them gone (missing or runaway), all of them 17, all of them -- except Abby -- dead. Abby's the one still out there, still alive, the one Lauren has to save. If she saves Abby maybe she can save all of them, maybe she can save herself. Because Lauren is 17 also, and she knows it's only a matter of time before she, too, disappears. 

I have conflicting feelings about this book and it's hard to talk about without spoiling the "twist," but I'll try to talk first about the things I CAN talk about. 

For starters, this book sort of dragged on. It was, dare I say... boring. Girl after girl appears to Lauren and we hear their stories -- what their lives were like, when they disappeared, what they were wearing when it happened. On and on. It quickly gets repetitive and slows the book down as I waited for something to happen. I had heard this book was creepy, which it was. I'd also heard it had a twist, which... I'll just say it: to me, that wasn't a twist. That was obvious. That was inevitable. And it was unsettling.

Summer's descriptions of the girls, of their interactions with Lauren, are so good. For some readers, probably too good. Because right from the start there's a distance between Lauren (the narrator) and the reader. There's a thick fog, an inscrutableness. Lauren is not a protagonist you fall into step beside; she's one you can't quite figure out, one you might be a little scared of. Lauren's world is peopled by ghosts and half-truths and it's hard to grab onto anything solid. Her personality is buried somewhere deep, deep under her experiences and throughout the whole book we never quite reach that far to really see who she is. I've read reviews from readers who didn't like this, but for me it hit as incredibly, startlingly truthful. I didn't always love it, but I'm still glad I read it.

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