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Ten by Gretchen McNeil

September 19, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Ten
by Gretchen McNeil

Ten

By: Gretchen McNeil

Release Date: September 18, 2012

Rating: 1 Star

Summary: 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?

Review:

The last time I remember seeing this setup – a seemingly random group of people is lured to a remote mansion where they’re killed one by one in ever more gruesome fashion in a half-crazed bid for revenge, it was an episode of Family Guy. Seth MacFarlane cribbed the plot from Agatha Christie, sure, but it was still a damn funny parody. In Ten, Gretchen McNeil takes that exact same well-worn story of horror and revenge, but adds nothing new to it really.

The only thing this book doesn’t lack for is strong writing, McNeil’s White Rock House is the quintessential house of horrors, isolated, foreboding, all bleak lines and sharp angles. A perfect roost for a would-be murderer. But the actual plot, though, I’m being very diplomatic when I say almost the entirety of the book consists of nothing but a string of horror movie cliches. There are the ten dinner… er weekend guests, each one besides protagonist Meg and love interest T.J. suffering from ever worsening character flaws that just beg for them to be offed for their bad behavior. Meg, and to a lesser extent T.J., is the saint whose flaw is being too nice and caring and thus deserve to survive a little longer than the first couple of victims so she can discover the identity of the murderer and rant about how unfair and crazy the killer’s entire plan is. And since the whole thing is entirely by the books, deciding whether Meg and T.J. survive or not was one of the easiest things I’ve ever done.

But I wouldn’t be nearly as frustrated with Ten if the characters weren’t so genre savvy, if they weren’t so acutely aware of all these horror tropes, yet still insist on falling into all these cliches anyway. Dead man walking Nathan points out how the black character’s usually the first one to die in a horror film, but that is like the only trope this book successfully avoids. There’s the initial staged suicide that leaves everyone wondering whether there really is a murderer, or if it was just an accident. Yeah, after the previous, I don’t know, three or four creepy and suspicious scenes, I’d at least look into it, but no. Don’t know what these guys are doing. And after the second death, it becomes incredibly frustrating, like McNeil has this checklist of horror tropes and she’s just checking them off as she goes along. Mistrust and suspicions fall on each other Lord of the Flies style. Check. Details about the killer are slowly revealed through intentional breadcrumbs. Check. People are idiots and wander off to their deaths. Check. At this point, I feel like I’m reading a handbook on how to write horror rather than an actual horror novel, and I’m not even spoiling the massive cliche of an ending.

Maybe the by the books plot could’ve been saved by some actually decent characters, but that didn’t happen, so I’ll never know. Most of the characters, Vivian, Minnie, Kenny, are, no surprise, written as completely unlikable tools since they deserve to die, basically, but even the ones who arguably didn’t, Gunner, Kumiko, I really wish they hadn’t been written with such flat characterizations because it seems to me like this book is more concerned with who did what with whom during Prom, even if that is important to the plot, than fleshing out the players. None of them were really all that interesting. Even Meg ends up being such a weak and needy character and T.J. such a blank slate that the ending, rather than being emotional, fell really flat. I’m more pissed at the way everything (predictably) went down than who the killer was, what his motives were, or which characters survived the ordeal.

I guess what I’m saying is that I got nothing new out of this book. The plot ran off a formula, the characters fell flat, and the ending, this isn’t my first horror show, I’ve seen it all before.

Tldr: Just watch And Then There Were Fewer. Family Guy does it better.
Go to Mitch’s review on Goodreads.

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  1. September 22, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    I loved that FG episode! The James Woods one. lolz I have this book on my tbr I like the idea. I’ll give it a few chappys then decide.
    Have you or Katy read Beta yet?

    • September 23, 2012 at 9:00 am

      Katy has read Beta, I have not. I hope you enjoy the book, but yeah that FG episode cracks me up every time I watch it and I just couldn’t help thinking how it was more entertaining while I was reading Ten.

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