My mother always told me that if you needed to critique someone, the best way to do it was in a compliment sandwich: one positive thing, the critique itself, and then end on a positive note. I’m sure we’ve all heard it before. “I really loved the introduction to your short story. I don’t understand why you claim to be a writer, and all of your craft is garbage. But you have a lovely point of view and your love of the protagonist is inspiring.” You know, The Critique. The “don’t call us, we’ll call you.“ Nobody ever wants to be on the receiving end of that kind of a critique. Why do I bring all this up?
I really loved Mark Pryor’s command of the English language. His purple prose was evocative, and I appreciated phrases like “a dozen Mason jars lay cracked or broken, glinting on the white concrete like busted teeth lying amid unfurling tongues of red.” That’s the kind of description that sticks behind your eyelids when you blink. There are several other beautiful snippets of just how shocking and intense English can be, and the act of reading the words that comprised the story was undoubtedly my favorite part of the novel.
Most other things, not so much. To begin with, I knew he was gonna be a psychopath but like…when I read the book I didn’t want him to win. About 2/3 of the way in I realized what was happening and I didn’t want them to succeed, even though I knew they were going to. I actively rooted against him. Ultimately, I’m glad the Tristan the pedophile ended up getting arrested but reading about how the psychopath was so excited for him to get raped and beaten was really startlingly grotesque. I know that the point was to see it from his point of view but I didn’t like being there.
The heist itself seemed a little contrived. At first, I was eager to read about the planning and thought that we would see the heist itself further along in the book. However, it happens so much earlier in the story than I expected. When I realized the whole rest of the book would be about the aftermath of the theft, I was less interested because I knew he was going to get away with it. So rarely does the protagonist not get away with the crime.
On another note, I understand why Bobby was necessary as a character (a placeholder, a reason for him to run into the green girl). But his subplot and character arc seemed forced and didn’t have a solid conclusion. I’m not convinced that it was necessary for Bobby to be a psychopath for the green girl to want to continue to see Dominic. Clearly, she’s interested in him, so there’s no reason for Bobby to tie them together. He’s kind of just a side note.
On the subject of the green girl, I have several questions. First of them being why doesn’t she have a name? How old is she? Why doesn’t she have a name??? The story makes it seem like she’s supposed to be one big enigma, but the fact that we never learn her name threw me out of the story several times.
Would I recommend this book to others? Eh. It reads well but the only other person I know who can relate to this is a former roommate who also wrote a story about a sociopath, which may or may not be based on her own personal experiences. All in all the prose were good so it gets a 4.5/10. I wanted to like the story more than I did, but nobody’s going to like everything.
Next week, I’m tackling Siobhan Fallon’s You Know When the Men are Gone, a military fiction novel set in Fort Hood, Texas.