Monday, October 29, 2012

Ten/And Then There Were None

Ok, so it was really fun reading these two books back-to-back. Especially since the weather where I live has been rainy and overcast and gloomy and perfect for curling up with a murder mystery! Up first, Ten by Gretchen McNeil.

From Goodreads:
Don't spread the word!
Three-day weekend. House party.
White Rock House on Henry Island.
You do NOT want to miss it.

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

My Rating: ***

So normally, this isn't the kind of book I just pick up. Especially with that horror label that came on the spine. I'm NOT a horror kind of person. But... this is a retelling of my favorite favorite favorite Agath Christie novel of all time (I read it probably thirty times when I was a teenager) and I just had to see how it translated to a contemporary teen novel.

Surprisingly not bad! I can't say I absolutely adored it. Was it original and clever? Not so much. But it made for a fun spooky read and I was exactly in the mood for it when I read it.

One of the things I was worried about was gore, and it was such a relief to me that this wasn't gory. It was about as descriptive of the violence as Ms. Christie's original. So, definitely some detail, but nothing to make me gag. There's plenty of death, but not in a nasty way.

I read this before rereading the original, a choice I'm glad I made. It kept my reading from being interrupted too much by that inner voice that constantly snarks about the original being better. There are plenty of things here that turned out differently than the original, but with enough nods to the source that it made me happy.

I liked Meg as a character. She didn't wimp out and cower. She took action and the whole story moved along thanks to her. The touch of romance was nicely done, but without taking focus away from the whole point of the book: SOMEONE IS KILLING EVERYONE! I was a little disappointed by the way the plot turned out - just your basic bullied girl gone psycho which has been done a million times, but I enjoyed it all the same. A little too tongue-in-cheek sometimes, though. Like after that DVD was watched, several people squealed and one said, "That's how horror movies start." You think?

Recommended if you need a YA murder mystery. Perfect for Halloween.

From Goodreads:
First, there were ten - a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they're unwilling to reveal - and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. And only the dead are above suspicion.

My Rating: *****

Quite frankly, the best murder mystery ever written. In my opinion.

Ten characters seems like a lot, but somehow Agatha Christie humanizes them all and makes it easy to get inside their brains. We get all their backstories, but without getting sucked into the past. And the danger and intensity are real, folks. It is terrifiying to watch them get murdered one by one, and to find out slowly why each has been targeted. And when at the end they are all dead, each clearly murdered, and with absolutely solid proof that no one else was on the island... well, it never ceases to blow my mind.

And when I read the epilogue and see how it was done I think every time what a complete genius Agatha Christie was.

It was great to read this again, especially because I was having a hard time remembering who did it. I haven't read it since I was in high school. It was fun. And it drove me crazy! There'd be segments where each character's thoughts were written and one of them was obviously the killer and I'd sit there and agonize over those segments, trying to figure out who was the killer because I knew I ought to remember, but just couldn't. And sometimes I could rule people out and sometimes I couldn't! Insane. But in a good way.

My number one recommendation to you this Halloween!


melissa @ 1lbr said...

This would have been a perfect Classic Double pair! I've got Ten waiting for me and I have never read an Agatha Christie book *gasp* Great reviews!

Emily said...

Thanks Melissa! I keep telling myself to sign up for challenges and I've been wanting to do yours, since I love to compare and contrast retellings with originals. I'm just so lazy sometimes... :D