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Undercooked and overrated
on August 6, 2003
I would have to disagree with most of the other reviewers, who seem to be divided about equally into the "it's shocking, so it must be good" and the "it's shocking, so it must be bad" camps. Instead I would suggest a third "it's kinda but not really shocking, and even if it sometimes is, so what?" camp.
Even on the level of pure prose, an aspect of the book most readers seem to agree is terrific, isn't really. Instead Homes presents an overblown and overwritten first-person narrative (by the killer) written in a silly and juvenile style I wouldn't have thought possible for any serious writer over the age of 20. Homes fails on every level in making the killer credible or believable as a character, especially a male character, yet still focuses on the killer's backstory instead of the much more interesting but disappointingly underdeveloped story of the girl he corresponds with (filtered through his psyche and mostly or entirely imagined by him). The post-modern narrative tricks are distracting and not very illuminating, more clever than smart, and even the ratio of genuine shocks to limp shock-for-its-own-sake ones, which can be credited only to Homes' constant grandstanding, is extremely unfavorable to say the least. The only reason this one gets three stars is because the girl's story really had some merit and (squandered) potential.