When I set out to find a badly reviewed book for this challenge, I was anticipating a doozy. I have to admit, it could have been worse. Probably an unpopular opinion, but this isn’t any worse than Twilight. In fact, in this book’s defense, I actually finished it in about 3 days. So, it at least intrigued me enough to keep going at a fairly rapid pace.
But make no mistake, this is not a good book. Apparently Mr. Patterson churned out 6 other books the same year this one came out (2007), so his mind wasn’t exactly on crafting a work of art. And it’s not clear who actually wrote it, or how the work was otherwise divided by two authors.
The basic plot is that Kristin Burns is a photographer who has apparently made some bad choices and had a lot of trauma in her life. She takes some photos of a police scene outside of a hotel and notices that her photos are developing weirdly. Specifically, certain portions have a translucent quality. After awhile, strange people start interacting with her, including people she knows are dead. They keep trying to warn her to stay away from the married man she is sleeping with. But it turns out she’s been dead too this whole time … I think. Maybe. She might be dead. Or maybe not. It’s hard to tell.
There are a lot of problems with this book. Let’s start with superficial nitpicks. The author is constantly name-dropping brands in a way that make it sound like product placement. The phrasing is rough. Sometimes I needed to re-read sentences a few times to understand the meaning. Kristin’s decent into madness seems bizarre and hard to follow. If she was dead the whole time, the book didn’t do a good job of explaining that. Kristin’s interior monologue is ridiculous. When the other woman is introduced, she is given a mafia nickname – Penley “the Pencil”. All the chapters (which are all about 3-4 pages) end on a cliffhanger.
But my biggest problem is how the book seems to blame Kristin for being a scared teenager, giving birth in a hotel, and losing her baby. The book could have gone into some interesting territory. She was molested as a child by her pediatrician. Her father committed suicide after her mother told him he was worthless. Then she gets pregnant and gives birth without assistance in a hotel, after which the baby dies? (I kinda want to know what happened to the boyfriend there, it’s never clear if they break up or he just disappears.) By this point, Kristin is probably all kinds of messed up. Maybe she thinks she is a garbage person and only deserves a married man. But the book never addresses those interesting threads it could have taken. The character of Kristin instead seems like a master of completely distancing herself from her past, and acting like since Michael and Penley don’t have a perfect marriage, then the affair is completely justified. She even admonishes herself for “cheating” by going on a blind date. How’s that for cognitive dissonance? You are already cheating lady, by sleeping with a married man.
This book would have been way better if it was completely dismantled and rewritten. I felt like I was reading it that I couldn’t really get at the character of Kristin, and my initial thought is that two men just don’t know how to write the experience of a woman convincingly. Maybe that’s not totally fair, but it does seem to not really encapsulate the female experience. Poor writing is poor writing, however, so maybe it would have been less noticeable in a better crafted book.
This book fulfills the book with bad reviews requirement for the challenge.