Wednesday, December 9, 2015

"In a Dark Dark Wood": A Bachelorette Party Gone Awry

Looking for a gift for someone who loved the book 'Girl on the Train' by Paula Hawkins?  Ruth Ware's debut novel 'In a Dark Dark Wood' might be the best gift ever for someone who loves a fluffy thriller in the same vain as 'Gone Girl' and 'Girl on the Train.'

Ware's hen party (the UK name for bacholerette party) gone awry tale garnered rave reviews and even won a spot as Amazon's top book pick for August 2015.  It was a bestseller and received lots of book buzz as a summer 2015 best books pick.

The story centers around Nora (formerly known as Lee by her school friends) who reluctantly decides to attend a hen party for her ex- best friend Clare who she has neither seen or heard from in over a decade.  Because Nora's friend Nina also decides to go, Nora makes the creepy trek to the isolated glass house in the English countryside for a weekend of unknowns.  Why would Clare contact her out of the blue even though she didn't even receive a wedding invitation? Who else would be there? What exactly were they going to do for the entire weekend.

Nora likes her privacy choosing a life of writing and running and living in a tiny apartment alone in London.  She is unprepared for the catty behavior of the women and man invited to the hen and even less prepared to find out that Clare is marrying the love of Nora's life who she never really got over.

Told in alternating past and present chapters and narrated by Nora, this book is very quick, but it's also very odd.  Do grown women really behave like middle schoolers when thrown together in a big glass house? Ouija boards? Truth or Dare? Playing with guns? Scathing and bitchy comments towards each other? Maybe some people actually act like this and talk like this, but I am glad that I am not stuck in a big old glass house in the middle of a creepy forest with them for an entire weekend.

I guess there was some suspense and the mood was ultra dramatic as well with the house almost taking on a personality of it's own. The dark dark woods also add to the scare factor symbolizing both freedom for Nora when she goes for her runs to clear her mind and also the suffocating fears of the unanswered questions.

People seem to really like this book, so maybe it's just me.  I don't get the whole "psychotic women who have troubled pasts and harbor ill feelings that turn them into mental nightmares who are okay with gruesome killing" thing.  I also have an issue with reading books that don't have even one likable character.  It's hard to care if someone is fighting for their life or sanity when you don't care if they live or die.  And that's exactly how I felt during this book.

Maybe for some people the revelations throughout the hen weekend and while Nora is in the hospital are shocking and thrilling, but for me, I felt the plot was weak and predictable.  Suspenseful? I'm not sure if that word works for this book.  It was more just a sad and twisted tale of women who have never grown up and resolved their issues from the past.  Stories like this always contain one super psycho mega bitch and this book does not disappoint in that regard.

Thrillers are never my go to genre of choice, but I am always hopeful that one will live up to the hype  and rave reviews of devoted fans.

This one just didn't do it for me.

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