Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Book Review: "The Secret Place" by Tana French

"The Secret Place" by Tana French is the latest book that I've been reading. I have to say, it's really not up my alley, so to speak. I've tried to analyze why I didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. Mainly, I think it's because Tana French is an english-style writer. For many of you, that's not a bad thing. But I found that with other books who's authors were from across the pond I was similarly unsatisfied with. This made me think that it just may be me. With some analysis, that's generally the conclusion I came to.

Although it was never diagnosed, I know I have a mild form of dyslexia. My brain, early on, figured out how to rearrange the letters to get the words right, without any conscious help from me. I think reading non-North American authors makes my brain stutter a little, making reading just that much less enjoyable. Reading a page always takes me more time than others but if I'm unused to the cadence of the author's style, if she's foreign, then it takes even more time for my brain to acclimate. This makes reading just less enjoyable and more work.

For you, my readers, this translates to the following. If you find yourself liking English or foreign type authors, then you'll probably like this novel. Let's just get that out of the way, the mystery of this book rocks. You don't know who did it, you are kept guessing throughout the book and you're given both red herrings and also little clues that keep the interest there and simmering. Also, Tana French's take on how teen girls talk and act, I think, is spot on. Some reviewers thought the speech patterns and weird words were just too over the top. But I found it reminded me of when I was their age. In the early eighties I tried to add "valley girl" lexicon to my speech, trying to be unique and different from the grown ups. We all, at that age, think we have a handle on what's NEW and BETTER and no one can tell us different. Tana French's writing easily brings all those memories back. She also handles the relationships between girls and also between girls and boys expertly. It came off as so beautifully real. The angst, the need to be liked, to not be the teased girl and to either stay under the radar or to want the opposite, to be the star. All of that is handled so expertly and I have to give kudos to the author.

I didn't, however, like how bitter the main police detective was. But again, I'm tending to put that down to the foreign writer thing again. Prejudice is different in every country. Canada has different prejudices than the US and we express them differently. I just find the classist attitudes off putting in this book. Otherwise it was very enjoyable and kept my interest.

I'm giving this book three stars out of five. If you like authors from the UK though, you should probably add a star to my review. You'll find yourself liking this book if you've also enjoyed other authors from the UK. 


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