Review: Ten by Gretchen McNeil
Author: Gretchen McNeil
Publisher: Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
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.
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.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Ten: