Thursday, February 4, 2016

Security: ALERT! NONSENSE AHEAD!

Have you ever read a book that's not very long, but by the nature of its plot and pacing, feels like War and Peace?  That's Security.  I feel like I read it for hours and only made it about halfway.  Then I gave up and read the end and still didn't understand what was going on.


At its core, Security is a locked-room murder mystery, only it takes place during the murders.  Honestly, these stories are a dime a dozen, so in order for Security to succeed, it needed to be tightly plotted, with interesting characters, and a grounded sense of place.  Also menace.  Menace is very helpful when writing horror.

Instead we get a lukewarm story about a weird hotel with secret floors and the world's slowest elevator.  The killer, known in the story as The Killer (wow. So creative. Much words.) goes around systematically stabbing everyone.  Then--surprise--there are two killers, plus the narrator of the book, who is ensconced on the ultra-secret and impregnable 20th floor of the hotel, giving us a play-by-play via security cameras.

The story-via-camera schtick would have worked better had it been more consistent.  Instead, the narration goes on these weird, rambling tangents (unless my eARC was poorly formatted) where a sentence will start and then another sentence starts and the first sentence ends at the bottom of the page.  Or it never ends--it just hangs there, turning into a question.  The author also tries for some interesting turns of phrase that just don't make sense.  Take this one: "her nails buried to the cuticles in her husband's biceps."  First of all: OW.  Secondly, does the author know where the cuticle is?  It's at the bottom of the nail.  This character would have the tips of her fingers embedded in her husband's arm for this description to be accurate.  And since's he's not screaming, "OH GOD YOU'RE STABBING ME WITH YOUR NAILS!" I assume that's not actually the case.

Plus, we have character insights that the person on the top floor couldn't possibly know.  

Our main characters, about whom, presumably, we are supposed to care, wander about the Manderley (yes, that's the hotel's name.  Yeesh.) and try to work out their romantic frustrations instead of noticing that a bunch of the staff have disappeared.  Tessa is overseeing final preparations for a gala to be held by Manderley's psychopathic, but rich, owner, Charles Destin. Tessa is, as most female leads are nowadays, "pretty, but not in an obvious way."  Ah yes, the good ol' "I'm so weird looking but all these guys area so into me what's up with THAT?" syndrome.  She has a clipboard and a list of items to be checks off.  She checks them off for several chapters.  All this opulence and you can't give your aide-de-camp a tablet?

For most of the book, Tessa worries about a) the hotel and b) the arrival of her foster brother Brian, for whom she obviously lusts.  There's so much tension here that I felt smothered.  Plus, the author really felt the need to shove Tessa and Brian's attraction in our faces.  Tessa's hips start gyrating uncontrollably whenever Brian is near.

ANYWAY.  We also meet some of the supporting characters, like Franklin, the hotel manager, who is cheerily described as "short, muscular, hairy, and gay."  He also plays practical jokes.  There's Henri, the frankly manic chef whose chief action in the narrative is to fart.  Justin and Jules are a husband and wife team who gave up on their academic pursuits for more practical ones.  Jules' main character attribute is that she is taking anti-depressants but won't tell her husband.  I care about precisely zero of these characters--either way!  I mean, make me love them or make me hate them, but don't make me pull out The Gallic Shrug.


I WARNED YOU.

I had to stop reading about halfway through because nothing was happening except Tessa's hips started gyrating every time she got close to Brian, and there ended up being two killers who very confusedly slaughtered everyone except for our Intrepid Heroine and Her Man.

See Gallic shrug above.

That's really all I've got!  There's nothing compelling here.  The writing tries so hard to be fancy, but it sounds like Guy in your MFA's essay that was shredded and taped back together by monkeys.  I think there was also supposed to be some sort of commentary about how the best security system can't protect you, but dude, we already got that message in Jurassic Park.

If anyone actually figures out what's going on at the end, let me know.  Or maybe not.  I'd prefer not to dredge this one up from my memory banks.

I received an ARC of this title from Netgalley.


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