Saturday, September 10, 2011

Book Review: Rosebush

Another book where it was the cover that drew me in but this time it wasn’t the title but the blurb talking about a girl figuring out which one of her friends tried to murder her. Wohoo, a mystery and a(n almost) murder one, those are the best kind! Sadly this was not the whodunit I was expecting, although it had a lot in common with a standard mystery story nevertheless (which reminds me, where are the YA mystery novels these days anyway? I remember reading tons as a kid but the genre is lacking in the YA department, can’t be an age thing since there are plenty of mysteries in the adult section of any bookstore or library).

Rosebush by Michele Jaffe

The cover does a great job replicating Jane's crime scene and makes it clear how the title ties into the book.

Summary: To an outsider Jane seemed to have it all, money, loyal friends and loved by everyone else. When she turns up in the hospital after what appears to be a suicide attempt it's clear that this isn't the case but Jane is slow to catch on. She knows she didn't try to commit suicide and she thinks her life is great so who tried to murder her?

The Good: Some authors don't know how to write crazy characters but Jaffe seems to do it with ease, most of them even have sympathetic reasons for being crazy! She also manages to juggle a large cast fairly well and all of the important characters were distinct from each other, although I did have some trouble remembering the character names at parts. Jane's little sister was a very nice character and one of the better done "smarter than they appear but still a child" character's I've seen in a while, she may seem to be the strangest character to Jane but I was always happy when she got page time.

The Bad: When everything is said in done in a thriller or a mystery novel there should be no reason for the audience to doubt that the culprit was in fact the culprit and the other characters should have been cleared of suspicion as well. Here however Jaffe did such a great job at making everyone seem suspicious and like they had a reason to hurt Jane but none of them are ever “cleared” in the end. There is an actual culprit in this story but it could have been any one of the characters and the story wouldn’t have been any different in the end, that’s not good writing. Another complaint I have utterly clueless Jane is about seemingly everything in her life. Jaffe was clearly going for the “rich and popular girl discovers that all is not as it seems” trope but there’s no reason Jane should have believed that some things was alright in the first place. Through flashbacks the story shows that there have been hints for years that nearly everyone is unhinged and it’s unbelievable that Jane never noticed something and at least wondered about it (the flashbacks show her actively dismissing such thoughts).

In the end I was just so frustrated at how stupid Jane came off (it takes talent to not realize that there is something wrong with nearly everyone around you), who the culprit really was, how Jane found out, and how the day was saved that I really disliked this book. If there is a mystery I want logic in it, a reason for everything that is shown and then a reason for why things aren't quite what they seem in the end and this book provided none of them. I actually checked the author bio to see if this was the author's first book (since maybe they just didn't have a grip on their writing yet) but no it isn't and the fact that she wants to be a CSI investigator (something that would involve more logic than present in this book) worries me, think I shall avoid her books in the future.

And apologies that this is late, long day, paper kicking my butt and tomorrow looks to be more of the same so expect that review later in the day as well. But at least I like tomorrow's subject so that should make writing it take less time than usual.