Saturday, February 8, 2014

Review: The Drowned Forest (Reisz)

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AUTHOR: Kristopher Reisz
SERIES: none
PUBLISHER: Flux
PUBLICATION DATE: February 8, 2014
ISBN: 9780738739106
PAGES: 240
SOURCE: Publisher's ARC
GENRE: gothic horror/mystery
GIVE IT TO: I don't recommend this to anyone.
SUMMARY: Fifteen-year old Jane is heartbroken over the sudden drowning of her best friend Holly. Though she talks to Holly all the time, Holly isn't able to talk back to Jane. One day, at a river baptism, Jane and Holly's boyfriend Tyler spot something strange. An enormous catfish is trying to surface and appears to be choking on something. With Tyler and Jane as witnesses, the catfish coughs up Holly's promise ring from Tyler, which she was wearing the day she drowned. Scratched into the ring's surface is one word: HELP.

WHAT I LIKED: Honestly, not much. The setting is nice and creepy, with well-written descriptions of the small town and its deep, dark river with no-telling-what lying in wait at the murky bottom. I like that it is only 240 pages; at least my misery was short-lived.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: The narration. Jane narrates the story as though she is speaking to Holly. It's a weird kind of second person narrative that is unique, but for me it was just awkward. I kept forgetting that Jane was talking to Holly when she said "you did this" or "you remember that." I have never liked second-person narration, and even though this was technically first-person with Jane telling the story, it reads a lot like second-person.

The scripture. This book contains SO. MUCH. Scripture. And though I didn't go back and count them, I would bet money that there was at least one bible reference or quotation on every single page. While I am not personally a very spiritual person, biblical references and scripture from time to time in a story do not bother me. I've read (and enjoyed!) several Christian Fiction novels for teens (here, here, and here) so it is clearly not the mere presence of religion that bothers me. But in The Drowned Forest, the scripture is just overwhelming.

The slow-pacing. Seriously, you have a few major events with a LOT of internal dialogue (Jane talking to Holly) and thinking and praying and quoting of scripture in between. "Holly" is not so much scary as she is sad, and while some might find the lack of romance refreshing, I wanted to see more romantic spark between Jane and Tyler.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Clearly, I did not like this book, and I don't recommend it.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We don't have it, and I would only get it if students requested it.

READALIKES: The Well (Whitten), Cryer's Cross (McMann), Paper Valentine (Yovanoff)

RATING BREAKDOWN:
  • Overall: 1/5
  • Creativity: 3/5
  • Characters: 2/5
  • Engrossing: 1/5
  • Writing: 3/5
  • Appeal to teens: 1/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5

CONTENT:
  • Language: medium; includes fu** and sh** (not gratuitous)
  • Sexuality: none
  • Violence: none; it's just creepy
  • Drugs/Alcohol: mild; references to cigarettes and alcohol

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