ashley | I’m starting to see a trend with mystery-thrillers these days. There is the straight up thriller that keeps me on the edge of my seat trying to figure out whodunnit, and then there is this new wave of books that claim the same domain, but really just use the foundation of a serial killer or a missing person to build an otherwise typical story that is nice enough, but doesn’t exactly depict a mystery. The Drifter by Christine Lennon falls into the later category, which would be fine if I knew that going in, but I didn’t and that was ultimately a frustration of mine that dragged through the entire book.
Like I mentioned, this book wasn’t really a mystery-thriller, at least not in the sense I was expecting. It’s far more about college friendships that start to strain and drift as people grow and mature. We’re told something big happens, an act of violence, but it took such a long time to get to that point and what we were left with while waiting was a lot of sorority girl bickering and reminiscing about drunken nights and even drunker hook ups. I understand a lot of this is building their characters and providing a back story, but I couldn’t stand this in college, I definitely can’t stand it now. Even once this violent act happens, the way Betsy reacts just removes herself from this interesting part which could have been so rich with emotion, and instead we watch her drift aimlessly through her life for a while.
I’m going to be straight up honest, I didn’t like this book at all. I was really intrigued in the beginning and could have shifted my expectations and settled into a coming of age story, but I found it overly wordy and unnecessarily detailed with long sentences and a lot of extra information that wasn’t needed. It was repetitive in the way that any time a character was mentioned, there was a description about them or a story that flashed back to show the relationship between them and Betsy, but these were things that were already covered the last time that the character was mentioned. There were far too many flashbacks that dragged on and not enough depth of the emotional trauma that Betsy or the other girls were feeling until the very end.
What I will say, though, is that Lennon did a great job in showing the tension and the cattiness between girls, especially girls who have drifted apart and cross paths again years down the road. The relationship between Betsy and Caroline was really complicated and awful most of the time, but I did really like how things came together for them in the end and they both kind of got a little closure and a glimpse into the other girl’s head. That part kind of hit close to home.
In fairness, this was an advance copy and maybe things will be tightened up a bit before publication, but I just found this story jumped in so many different directions and the timeline of certain events and revelations seemed kind of out of whack. I didn’t believe in some of Betsy’s actions, I didn’t find her friendships strong enough to provoke certain reactions, and I really can’t pinpoint any progression she made as a character, even though there was ample time form her college years to when she leaves Gainesville for her to get herself together and show some progress. Unfortunately, this book just wasn’t for me.
february 14, 2017