Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Review: Ten by Gretchen McNeil (ARC)

Ten by Gretchen McNeil
Balzer + Bray, 294 Pages
Expected US Release Date: September 18, 2012
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher at ALA Annual 2012 (thank you Harper Teen!)

And their doom comes swiftly.

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, booze 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?
---------------Goodreads summary

Notable Quote
"I know you, Meg Pritchard. You don't say anything unless you mean it."
Meg winced. That was true, the fip side being that she didn't say half of what she wanted to.
Fair warning, I'm a damn scaredy-cat. I don't watch scary movies, I don't do horror or thriller or any of those. I still jump while watching I Know What You Did Last Summer, I definitely scream during Scream (PUN!), I hid through most of The Ring, and you can tell how long it's been since I've even attempted terrifying movies by how dated those examples are. I read some scary books, but I learned my lesson when I was 11 and reading Stephen King's Misery at 1am (add in that I even wanted to be a writer then, and you can imagine my pure terror) and have not done that since.

So I went into Ten a wee bit scared. I'd heard it was nail-biting, and I wasn't even going to play with that. But I'd also heard great things, I think Gretchen is possibly the most adorable and awesome author I've ever seen (I was so close to meeting her at ALA! We were at the same party! But alas, it shall have to wait until the release party.), and when I realized it was reminiscent of And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie - one of the classic, well-deserved mystery thrillers that everyone needs to have read if they haven't - I knew I'd give it a shot. And I'm so glad I did!

Under the ruse of a party thrown by a popular girl, ten teens gather on a remote island for the weekend of a lifetime - unknowingly the last weekend for most of them. We focus mainly on Meg, who has her own connections to a few of the select ten teens, and only later learn how they are all interconnected. From the moment Meg and Minnie step off the ferry onto the rainy island, I think my heart jumped into my throat and never, ever came back down until I closed the book.

Truthfully, it wasn't as terrifying as I thought it would be. There were definite moments I had to remind myself to breathe, and the entire last 40 pages or so I had to make sure I read in daylight - but the majority is that twisted thriller type, where it's the anticipation and the thinking that messes with you the most.  That half-knowing but whole-wondering that drives a person absolutely mad.

In terms of the characters, I was a bit underwhelmed - they were mostly flat, I found Meg to be a bit forced, and I felt the story lacked a bit of "show." We were told details, told who they were, told everything - and that's fine in a sense, but I never connected with any of them. I just had to take it at face value, and I never believed in any of them. I much prefer seeing their stories, really understand who they are, rather than being presented with details - and I was disappointed, because there was so much potential here! It would have made the book much longer, yes, but done right? That background detail would have been awesome.

However, I do understand that in some ways, the author couldn't give those details because it would detract from how we're taken through the story: through the diary. I can't say much more about it, because it would spoil a lot of the book, but I get why this is written this way. I don't have to like it, but I get it.

The story totally makes up for my disappointment with the character development though. COMPLETELY. This is a classic whodunit type story, where everyone and no one is innocent and guilty. (Schrodinger's cat, WHATUP!) I was questioning, and even though some parts seem a bit predictable to me, I was completely wrapped up in everything. I wanted to scream when I got scared, I held my breathe whenever a chapter ended, and I was totally taken by the story as a whole. Bodies were piling up everywhere, and I kind of loved how quickly kids were dying, in a terribly twisted way. I also loved the creativity behind the book: how people died, why they were dying and why they were chosen to die that good. All of it.

The scary touches of scenery and the DVD and slashes on the wall were a cherry on top of a thrilling novel. Like I said, I don't like scary things, but I do love this book. There's something so engaging and suspenseful about the whole thing, and I absolutely could not put it down or look away. I even may have maybe sorta possibly taken an extra few seconds (or a whole minute, whatever) during my work breaks and lunches just so I could keep reading. (If my bosses or co-workers are reading this: TOTALLY KIDDING NO I DIDNT I SAID MAYBE.)

Read this book. Even if you're like me and hate scary stuff and want to hide in a corner under a blanket and stick the book in the freezer* at the mere mention of darkness and an abandoned mansion and house boat on an island, you will love Ten. It is that good.

PS. Have you seen the trailer? Trust me when I say it portrays the feel of the book PERFECTLY. Plus, that's the author singing! How awesome is that?! (if you can't see the vid below, check out this post for it!)

PPS. Join the Army of Ten!
4 Stars
*if you get this reference, you are my new best friend.


  1. fakestephSeptember 13, 2012 at 4:24 AM

    I pretty much agree with everything you say here. I didn't connect with the characters, the end was the scariest part, I was guessing and changing my answer the entire time I read... I just wish there had been more. The more I think about it, the less I like the diary. It always annoyed me how long it took her to actually read it when it was obvious she would find answers there... but I just wish that I had connected with the killer. I really wanted part of me to feel like he was a little bit justified, but mostly I was like "Hey dude... your reaction is a bit OTT, let's take a step back." Anyways....... apparently, I'm re-reviewing in the comments of your review.

  2. HeatherSeptember 13, 2012 at 5:33 AM

    So... if the killer is actually one of the people who were supposedly already murdered, I suggest you read Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians (also titled And Then There Were None).

    This book's plot sounds *exactly* like Christie's book, just rewritten with teenagers instead of adults.

    I really enjoyed your review! Very in depth!!!

  3. ElliceSeptember 13, 2012 at 8:49 AM

    Nice FRIENDS reference :)

  4. Vicky @ A Backpack Full of AdventuresSeptember 13, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    Scream is actually terribly scary! I haven't watched scary movies ever since I saw the latest Saw movie in a dark cinema, in 3D. *shudders* But crime fiction is one of my favourite genres and I love thrillers. Ten has been on my wishlist for a while and everyone keeps saying how brilliant it is :) I saw the trailer the other day and it really freaked me out. I can't wait to read this!

  5. Annette MillsSeptember 13, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    Joey on Friends!

  6. Jessi (Geo)September 13, 2012 at 11:52 AM

    I want this book SO FREAKING BAD. I'm a little disappointed that you said it wasn't as scary as you thought - it takes A LOT to scare me and I actually want something that would. I know, I'm weird.
    It's a shame you couldn't connect to the characters, that can sometimes be a deal breaker for me. Hopefully the suspense will make up for it!

  7. StellaSeptember 13, 2012 at 11:55 AM

    hahaha! Like Joey with The Shining! :)

  8. Andrea @ Cozy UpSeptember 14, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    I absolutely loved this book! I know what you mean about having to read it in daylight... I honestly refused to close the book, I just needed to keep going. Great review.

  9. Alexa S.September 14, 2012 at 9:31 PM

    I'm really interested in reading this book - it sounds like such a thrilling mystery! I can't wait to get my hands on it :)

  10. UnknownSeptember 21, 2012 at 4:20 AM

    I felt the same way about this one, Ashley. I liked the scare factor and I really liked all the clever ways the teens met their end (ghoulish of me but true) but the characters were flat just as you said. I didn't care one iota whether they lived or died, which might not be a big deal (since most of them did die) but I even felt that way about the MC and her love interest. Unfortunately, it was all pretty meh in the end.

    But I must admit that I do like seeing more "horrror" in YA reads:)


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