Saturday, July 31, 2010

Review # 77: Dismantled by Jennifer McMahon

Title: Dismantled
Author: Jennifer McMahon
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Harper Collins
Format: Autographed Copy from BEA
ISBN: 978-0-06-168934-5
Price/Pages: $13.99/422

Description from Author's Website:

Henry, Tess, Winnie and Suz banded together in college to form the Compassionate Dismantlers. Following the first rule of their manifesto – “To understand the nature of a thing, it must be taken apart” – these daring misfits spend the summer after graduation in a remote cabin in the Vermont woods committing acts of meaningful vandalism, and plotting elaborate, sometimes dangerous, pranks. But everything changes when one particularly twisted experiment ends in Suz’s death and the others decide to cover it up.

Nearly a decade later, Henry and Tess are living just an hour’s drive from the old cabin. Each are desperate to move on from the summer of the Dismantlers, but the past isn’t ready to let them go. When a victim of their past pranks commits suicide – apparently triggered by a mysterious Dismantler-style postcard – it sets off a chain of eerie events that threatens to engulf Henry, Tess, and their precocious nine-year-old daughter Emma. Is there someone who wants to reveal their secrets? Is it possible that Suz did not really die – or has she somehow found a way back?

My Review:

For those of you who have read The Secret History by Donna Tartt many years ago, this novel could be considered a good comparison but still wholly original. Edgy, twisted and well, almost psychotic at times, McMahon spins a disastrous tale of Henry,Tess, Winnie, Suz
and the young Emma.

They are four highly educated, somewhat pampered adults, egotistical, and completely smothered by the consequences of their youthful idiotic actions.

You get the elitism, the self absorbtion and the fear of their personalities in college and ten years later you still feel that. Henry and Tess are locked in their loveless marriage, tip toeing around the obvious and sheltering their daughter. Winnie continues to be manic, self destructive and lost. And Suz, well, that's for you to find out as the reader. Is she alive? Or...

The past comes back to haunt them, physically and emotionally.
I liked the twists and turns though it did drag at times. The reader got a full dose of how dysfunctional Henry was, how uptight Tess was and how strange Emma was. Their world could have been idyllic if they allowed themselves to really live in it.

I grew a tad bit impatient. I wanted to know what was happening and I wanted to know now!
I felt almost like I was taking on the personality of Suz, the former leader of the Compassionate Dismantlers. I wanted action, I wanted results and I didn't want to wait.

It was hard to really feel for them because of how spoiled it seemed each character was. Though genuinely interested in what happened to Suz, I didn't feel compassionate towards her in any way. She spear headed a lot of unnecesary harm towards others and was not a sympathetic character.

Rating: 4 stars/ 6 stars
McMahon does a great job with extensive character sketches of each character and as a fan of literary fiction, I appreciated that. I enjoyed it overall but it wouldn't be a favorite of mine. It was original, well written and thought out. If you have the patience for some twists and a bit of a drawn out riddle, then read away.

Book Club Note:
Though I did not read this one for my book club, I considered bringing it along as an option. Perhaps for the fall. I feel there is quite a bit of discussion here; the idea of the Compassionate Dismantlers, their philosophies, the consequences of youthful indiscretions, the impact of a loveless marriage on a child.

Author Profile:

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child


Jenny said...

I definitely never felt sympathetic for Suz either! I haven't read The Secret History but have heard this comparison before. Good to know they're still different!

Marce said...

I have one of her books, Promise Not to Tell' I think is the title. This one sounds good also.

BTW - Don't feel bad about the classic, when you finish, I am happy to discuss. What chapter are you on? I thought it was slow starting and enjoyed it in the end.

It was hard thinking I may not like it when it seems everyone loves it and reads it over and over again.

StephTheBookworm said...

OMG I LOOOVE the sound of this one! I have to read it!

Stacy at The Novel Life said...

what a great review! i could almost sense the oppressive New England atmosphere of "it was a dark and stormy night"....and what a name - the "compassionate dismantlers!"