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Monday, September 3, 2012

ARC Review: Ten by Gretchen McNeil

TITLE: Ten                                         AUTHOR: Gretchen McNeil
PUB: Balzer+Bray                            PUB DATE: 9/18/12
FORMAT: ARC, 294 pgs
SOURCE: from pub inexchange for honest review

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?
THREE WORDS: Creeptastically Fun & Suspenseful

MY REVIEW: I've been told that Gretchen McNeil's Ten is a retelling of sorts of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, and while I've never read that book in full, I am familiar with the basic storyline and I think Ten is a great modern, hip revisioning of this classic tale. 

One isolated island. One huge house. One creepy DVD. One killer. And ten terrified teens. BFF's Meg and Minnie think they're in for the best weekend ever and they certainly end up at one killer party. Meg, Minnie and eight other seemingly unconnected teens gather for a weekend party on Henry Island and on the first night they watch a sinister DVD with a message: Vengeance is mine. Then one by one the teens start to die and with a raging storm outside and no phone or internet connection, the teens must wait for the ferry to come Monday morning. But the mysterious killer has no plans to let any of them leave the island alive.

I'm a big horror movie fan and I love my horror campy and over the Ten campy and over the top? YES and YES, but in the best, most fun possible way ever! I started this book late at night and finished it even later at night because I couldn't put it down; I was so engrossed and had to know how it ended. 

Gretchen McNeil is a fabulous and engaging storyteller and weaves a creepy fun and suspenseful story that had me furiously turning pages, checking over my shoulder for crazy killers the whole time. McNeil sets a wonderfully eerie and cinematic scene. I love how palpable the feeling of isolation and being trapped feels and how well it permeates through the whole book. Every moment of reading this story was filled with spine-tingly and heart-racing excitement.

The story McNeil lays out is captivating with its twists and turns, but not entirely unexpected. I wouldn't say the story is predictable, just smartly crafted and planned, from the way each person is ironically killed to the way the whole story comes together. For me, part of the fun of a good horror mystery is collecting the clues, analyzing the red herrings and figuring things out. And the red herrings dropped throughout the story are never too blantant or in your face; they're cleverly subtle. By about page 150 I had figured out the connection between the seemingly unconnected ten teens and by 3/4 of the way in I had a strong inkling of the killer's identity...and I was totally spot on! But again, I don't consider this predictability and it no way ruined the suspense for me. I mean, don't we want that "Aha moment" when the killer is revealed, the story comes together and we scream "Yes! I knew it! I totally knew it!"?! 

The story is told in the third perspective, but I'd call Meg the MC. I really liked Meg and connected with her; she's smart, witty and adorkably awkward. The other nine characters each had a distinct personality, from the bossy bitch to the jocks to the douche canoe to the hot nice guy and more. Some were really likable, some not so much, but I think that was intentional. There were those characters that I dreaded getting killed and those that I couldn't wait to see get offed! 

Meg and T.J. (the hot, nice guy) have a flirty romance thang going on and I could have done with less of this. Not that I didn't like the idea of the two of them together, I just felt like some of their flirtiness was out of place amongst all the horror and death. Then there's Meg and Minnie's odd-couple BFFness which was equal parts complexly layered and annoyingly frustrating. 

The last quarter of the book is furiously paced and gripping! There's a thrilling climax between the finally revealed killer and the surviving characters and a fiery, explosive ending. I really like how the book ends with a wrapped up, but easily open-ended conclusion that leaves room for more.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Ten kept me thoroughly entertained and enthralled from beginning to end with its smartly crafted creeptastic and cinematic story. A scarily awesome MUST read!


Connect with the author: Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook
Purchase: Amazon / B&N / Book Depository
Singer. Writer. Clown.
Gretchen is repped by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown. Her YA horror/paranormal POSSESS debuts with Balzer + Bray for HarperCollins, August 23, 2011. Her second novel, TEN – YA horror/suspense about ten teens trapped on a remote island with a serial killer – also with Balzer + Bray is tentatively scheduled for a Fall 2012 release.
Gretchen is a former coloratura soprano, the voice of Mary on G4's Code Monkeys and she currently sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk. She is a founding member of vlog group theYARebels where she can be seen as "Monday," and she is an active member of both The Enchanted Inkpot, a group blog of YA and middle grade fantasy writers, and The Apocalypsies, a group blog of 2012 children's debut authors.



alicia marie said...

Thanks for the awesome review! I've had this book on my list, but it's great to hear about how others feel about it too. It helps to have some kind of idea what to expect when I finally get to read it : )

Unknown said...

Not a fan of third person but love a horror mystery. 10 students trapped on an island. Definitely dying to know their connection and who the killer is! Glad it comes together nicely but isn't overly predictable. I do like collecting clues!

Jessirae said...

AHHHHH! I'm just itching and dying to read this book. I loved Gretchen McNeil's Possess and when I found out she was writing this type of book, I knew I had to get it! Like you, I'm a huge horror fan! Scary movies are my thing and I think that's why I loved Gretchen's Possess because she delivers the scary and creepy and with the way you describe Ten, it looks like she delivered that aspect of the book well. I love the idea of the teens stuck on an island and being killed off one by one! I totally get what you mean about the "Aha Moment"! I love those. I don't see it as predictability either, I think it makes the book better because it means you were really into the book so much, you were trying to figure out who the killer was too! I didn't know there would be some romance in the book and while I don't mind if a book doesn't have romance at all, it's nice to see that there is one in here, but like you said, it does seem out of place for such a book with so much death! But anyway, I'm super thrilled that you loved this one! Wonderful review overall! You really mentioned many aspects of the book that I'm sure I will love as well. :)