Review: Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Title:  Ten
Author:  Gretchen McNeil
Series:  None
Publisher:  Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date:  September 18, 2012
Pages:  294
Format/Source:  Hardback/Purchased
Age Group/Genre:  Young Adult/Horror, Mystery

Don’t spread the word!
Three-day weekend. House party.
White Rock House on Henry Island.
You do NOT want to miss it.

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? (Cover image and synopsis from Goodreads)

A Little Disclaimer…

I am a wuss.  A huge one.  I don’t like scary or gory movies, and therefore I don’t like to read scary or gory books.  I like creepy books and movies, but I’ve never been very interested in reading horror books.  Until I heard about Ten.  For some reason, the plot of Ten just had me really interested, and I was also very interested in reading Gretchen McNeil’s other book, Possess, which I hope to read someday soon.  

I know that Ten is based off of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, and maybe that, plus the fact that this story is quite the mystery as well, made the story so intriguing for me.  I haven’t read any Agatha Christie, but my mom watched some Poirot while I was a child so I’m familiar with her work.  I do hope to read some Agatha Christie one of these days.

Super Nerd…

Ten ultimately didn’t end up being super scary for me.  But I think I know why–because ever since around page 5 I started a “Who’s the Killer?” list, where I made hash marks every time a character did something that made me suspect them.  (I love lists.  And yes, I realize I’m a huge nerd.)  (You can see a couple of photos of the list in progress in tweets here and here.  Ms. McNeil was sweet enough to retweet them!)  So in my notes there is a reason behind each hash mark.  For instance, Reason #1 to suspect Gunner was “Hello!  His name is Gunner!”  I didn’t say they were all good reasons. Actually my (highly scientific) method was to suspect everyone for any reason.  

But since I spent most of my time doing this, plus writing the normal notes I write for books I review, I don’t think I got as scared as I would have if I just read the book straight through.  Sure, there were some very creepy parts that had me looking behind my chair and questioning the (very normal) noises outside, but I just didn’t get as scared as I was expecting to.  And that is perfectly fine with me.  

Love the Dark Imagery…

I love how right from the very beginning, Gretchen McNeil peppered her prose with dark imagery.  Like decaying wood, carcasses of tree trunks, a “severed strip of land,” etc.  It definitely set the scene, even though the beginning of the book wasn’t scary at all.

I also think it’s fantastic that McNeil kept me guessing the whole time at who the killer was.  I did figure it out, but even after I had figured it out I was still suspecting everyone else for all kinds of other reasons.  I was second guessing all the theories I made.  And there were a few parts that I didn’t figure out at all.  I also think it’s a testament to McNeil’s writing that I took pages and pages of notes, not only of theories on who the killer was, but notes on the writing itself.

Great Quotes…

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Ten:

“The blanched carcasses of dozens of stripped tree trunks littered the isthmus like a giant game of pick-up sticks.”

“A severed strip of land, besieged on all sides by a hostile sea.  Meg felt as if she’d reached the end of the world.”

“The curtains ballooned toward her and Meg cowered against T.J.’s arm.  It was like they wanted to enfold her, keep her in that house forever.  Everything felt tainted, and Meg didn’t want to touch anything.  There wasn’t enough antibacterial soap in the world to wash away the feel of that house.”

My rating for Ten by Gretchen McNeil:

5 huge stars.  I love how this book had me thinking the whole time, taking tons of notes, and yet I still wasn’t sure about anything until the very end.  I can’t wait to read more books by Gretchen McNeil!
Find it:  Goodreads │ Amazon │ HarperCollins
Disclaimer:  I purchased this book myself.  I was not compensated in any way for this review.


  1. fakesteph

    October 23, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    I love the hastmark idea OMG. I'm going to try that the next time I read a murder mystery!!! For reals.

  2. Andrea @ Cozy Up

    October 23, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    I absolutely loved this book… did your list actually give you who the killer was? I want to read Possess after reading this to see more of her writing, she definitely did an amazing job with her descriptions and making this book creepy (I think you would have found it so if you weren't as focused on the notes lol) Great review!

  3. bookaddictsguide

    October 23, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Hahah I love that you made lists! :)
    I'm a huge wuss too! I was a little bit scared while reading, but I knew if I finished I'd feel better (and I did). I was more creeped out by them trying to bring a ghost into the picture!
    Glad you enjoyed it!!! :)

  4. Bittner

    October 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    I'm pretty sure the only part that scared me was when she found the Taylors and the body she found in the bathroom! But you know how I feel about bodies hiding in bathrooms!

  5. Lily Child

    October 24, 2012 at 8:02 am

    This was a great spooky read! I didn't realize that Gretchen McNeil also wrote Possess! It's been sitting on my shelf forever! I need to read it like yesterday! I loved your list tweets! :)

  6. Jen Ryland/YA Romantics

    October 24, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    I really enjoyed this one. And your list cracked me up. I try to keep one in my head when I read mysteries, but of course I get all distracted….

  7. Kimberly @ On the Wings of Books

    October 28, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    I'm so glad you loved this one! And I love love love that you made a list for the potential killer! And kudos for figuring out the killer, as always I was not able to figure it out.

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