Mimi Shapiro had a disturbing freshman year at NYU, thanks to a foolish affair with a professor who still haunts her caller ID. So when her artist father, Marc, offers the use of his remote Canadian cottage, she’s glad to hop in her Mini Cooper and drive up north. The house is fairy-tale quaint, and the key is hidden right where her dad said it would be, so she’s shocked to fi nd someone already living there — Jay, a young musician, who is equally startled to meet Mimi and immediately accuses her of leaving strange and threatening tokens inside: a dead bird, a snakeskin, a cricket sound track embedded in his latest composition. But Mimi has just arrived, so who is responsible? And more alarmingly, what does the intruder want? Part gripping thriller, part family drama, this fast-paced novel plays out in alternating viewpoints, in a pastoral setting that is evocative and eerie — a mysterious character in its own right. (from Goodreads)
Challenges: R.I.P. IV (#2)
Note: I do talk about some potentially spoiler-ish things in this review, but I’ve tried to keep it to just stuff that happens in the first half of the book. If you’re really sensitive to spoilers, read the book first and then read my review.
I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this book. I liked it, but at the same time I’m not really feeling all that positive about it. I’m also not entirely sure it actually is a YA/teen book, since all the characters are in their 20s– but that’s just a side issue.
The Uninvited is creepy to the max, and it makes me feel all yucky inside, like how I feel after reading a true crime novel or after watching one of those serial killer profile shows on TruTV. It’s very well-written, and the story is intense, but it made me feel a little gross.
There’s some really big things in The Uninvited, like stalking, sexual harassment, and incest (kinda), but none of it never fully matures (I’m sure if they had it’d have been classified as an adult novel for sure), but just having the hints and beginnings of something happening because of those things is enough to give me the yucks. I’m sure if it was handled like a “true events fictionalized” sort of book I would have felt differently about it, more matter-of-fact maybe, but since it was handled like a thriller I was just disturbed.
The biggest thing that disturbed me is that Cramer, the third narrator with Mimi and Jay, spends much of his time stalking Mimi. I mean seriously stalking, like going through her stuff, messing up her computer so she’d have to come meet him in the computer store where he works, taking pictures of her without her knowing, watching her through her windows from a tree. None of the incest or sexual harassment stuff escalates into anything big, but the stalking does. It’s creepy and considering how nuts Cramer’s mom is, I wouldn’t have been surprised if the book had ended with everyone dead and the town in flames. It doesn’t end that way, and even though Cramer never escalates to rapist-murderer-psycho it was very much a possibility and it kept me on edge for most of the book.
I think the worst thing (or the best thing, depending) was how I wasn’t even sure if Cramer was crazy or not until he breaks in Mimi’s house for the first time. The slow build up to the reveal that, yeah, he and his mom are totally unhinged was really done well, and the rest of the reveals (ones not just involving Cramer) are done just as well.
I’m not entirely sure I like the ending, however. There were clues on how it was going to end spread throughout the book in little italicized snippets, but when it actually happened I was kind of disappointed. I suppose because I was expecting it to end in mass murder, and so was prepared for something horrible like that. It did end in a really, well, thrilling scene, but after that scene it just went flat. And even though I thought the characters were good in their roles, they never fully crossed the line into real-people territory. They kept reading like characters (or actors playing characters, even), and while that thankfully gave me some distance from the yuck I can help but think that the book would have been even better if Mimi and Jay had seemed more like real people.
Though I don’t normally read thrillers, and though the book gave me an uneasy feeling the entire time I was reading it, I do think it’s a good read and a really good book for reading in the dark. It actually kind of reads like a better 1990’s slasher flick (without any slashing), so if you’re into that you’ll probably like this book.
Oh, and, yeah, don’t be fooled– Tim Wynne-Jones isn’t related to Diana Wynne Jones, though he does write some YA fantasy books, apparently.
Read: September 2009