- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (Jan. 6 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 030739638X
- ISBN-13: 978-0307396389
- Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.7 x 20.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 227 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,462,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Obedience: A Novel Paperback – Jan 6 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
A complex conspiracy involving the writing of a book drives Lavender's compelling debut, a thriller that will strike some as a mix of John Fowles's The Magus and Stephen King's The Shining. At Indiana's Winchester University, three students—Brian House, Dennis Flaherty and Mary Butler—are taking Logic and Reasoning 204, taught by enigmatic Professor Williams. They quickly learn this is a course like no other. Their single assignment is to find a missing 18-year-old girl, Polly, in six weeks time—or else, Williams asserts, she will be murdered. Is this merely an academic exercise? As Williams produces clues, including photographs of Polly and her associates, the students begin to wonder where homework ends and actual homicide begins. Together with Brian and Dennis, Mary ventures off campus in search of Polly into a world of crumbling towns, decrepit trailers and hints at crimes old and new. A rapid-fire plot offsets thin characterization, though the conspiracy becomes so all-encompassing, so elaborate, that readers may feel a bit like Mary when baffled by her quest: This is what she felt like: led, played, not in control of anything she did. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Obedience is evidence that crime fiction is hardly a played-out genre …. [G]rafts the world-turned-upside-down suspense of a Harlan Coben thriller to the hall-of-mirrors vertigo of a novel by Paul Auster …. [I]ts ultimate implications continue to spin out in a reader’s mind after the final page is turned."
—Wall Street Journal
“Authentic puzzle mysteries are an endangered species in these hectic times, so it’s a genuine, if slightly perverse, kick to follow every byzantine clue in this bizarre game…. If you solve this one without peeking at the last chapter, it's an automatic A.”
—New York Times Book Review
"Obedience is a fiendishly clever thriller, debut or no, and Lavender exhibits deft control at the wheel."
"Obedience is quite a twisty little number …. the taunting nature of the challenge is irresistible….”
—New York Daily News
“[T]his is one of those high-concept thrillers with a final twist that upends all expectations, filled with characters who are not what they seem.”
"Obedience is a full course load of sinister fun."
An inspired thriller about cognitive dissonance, conjectural misdirection and the conspicuous dichotomy between academia and the real world."
“Will Lavender stuns with this compelling thriller…. The surreal but believable landscape fairly bursts from its confines, goading the reader into finishing just one more page.”
“It’s a terrific book, part cat-and-mouse mystery and part psychological study of group behavior…. [A] wonderful book with a strong emotional punch at the end.”
—St. Petersburg Times
“Lavender’s first novel suggests he has a bright future. The novel is briskly plotted with deft narrative. Obedience builds to a swirling conclusion. It becomes a place where morality is blurred and intentions drift astray.”
“In his tautly strung debut novel, Obedience, literature professor Will Lavender tears a page of out Milgram’s notebooks and sets into motion a chain of events that escalates far beyond its intended intellectual exercise. . . . Mystery fans will be satisfied to hang on around the story’s hairpin turns as the list of suspects swells and narrows with the unearthing of each clue, but Lavender . . . is aiming at a broader target and posing deeper questions.”
“First-time novelist Lavender has a knack for creepy characters and red herrings.”
“First novelist Lavender has sprinkled his text with enough red herrings to feed the Biblical 5,000 but uses them to build page-turning suspense. . . . Lavender’s invocation of the notorious Milgram experiment conducted at Yale on obedience to authority adds an additional–and salutary–layer of psychological meaning to his elaborate plot.”
More Praise for Obedience:
“Obedience draws you in and never lets go — and what a ride!”
"In his dream-like and labyrinthine debut, Will Lavender delivers a clever, intricate page-turner that kept me guessing late into the night. Obedience is a house of mirrors where every corner we turn is a false reflection of the truth until the shocking final scene. A gripping exploration of human nature and all its foibles told in Lavender's fresh and original voice, Obedience is not to be missed."
“Obedience is a very scary story set on the border where good meets evil, located in this case in that scariest of places, academia. Taut, twisty, and highly original: the pages turned themselves.”
"A taut and timely thriller that explores the dark side of academia, where classrooms are dangerous and paranoia abounds."
"A taut, clever puzzle, so artfully crafted and tightly wound that it springs open its trap when you least expect it to."
—Carol Goodman, author of The Sonnet Lover and The Ghost Orchid
"A devilishly inventive debut that reads like a house of mirrors. Nothing is what it seems, right up to the devastating finale."
—Brian Freeman, author of Stripped
From the Hardcover edition.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com
It is hard to believe the students would get as wrapped up in this as they do ... and not confine the exercise to the classroom. Characters reference again and again that they want to walk away from the "creepy" assignment. College students would do just that. But time and again they venture beyond what is comfortable, make the exact right conclusion to continue on and behave in ways that defy logic and believability.
The book seems to slog along, taking far too long to develop the story and bring it to conclusion.
The author wanted to explore an individual's tendency to do what they are told rather than what they believe. Interesting concept, the author did not do it justice.
Perhaps somewhat arrogantly, I'm assuming that I "got" the premise of the book and that nothing important was at a level over my head, but in any case, I had several problems with this nonetheless entertaining novel:
1) In my opinion, the writing itself never rose to a level worthy of such glowing reviews;
2) Although intriguing, I found the whole premise of the book totally unbelievable; (SPOILER ALERT! There is no way a group of people could have staged as elaborate an experiment as the one detailed in this story!)
3) Most of the main characters' actions and reactions in this story seem highly implausible;
4) There were some glaring inconsistencies, which in my opinion should not have made it past the editor. (For example, at one point in the book, two of the characters are eating "lukewarm soup," yet on the next page, the lukewarm soup - by this point even lukewarm-er than on the previous page - manages nonetheless to "steam" their faces.)
All in all, I found the endeavor a noble one with some merit, but I was somewhat disappointed.
Also, and I know this is nit-picky, Mr. Lavender apparently does not know what a "Pyrrhic victory" is, since he used the phrase incorrectly. This was merely one glaring example of his inadequate command of the English language and his inability to turn a phrase that is anywhere close to elegant, much less especially readable. I regret wasting the money on this novel and plan to take a pass on any future endeavors by Mr. Lavender.
This book totally absorbed me...the premise is sort of unusual and the writing is done in such a way as to pop you right inside this classroom.
It was a realistic sort of chiller/thriller with a terrific surprise ending.
I personally love mysteries...any kind of really terrific absorbing mystery and Obedience had many key items that keep my attention in a book of this kind...ok...the premise is a college philosophy class with a colorful interesting and totally off professor. Everything about his style of teaching is sort of questionable. His premise for this class is that a girl has disappeared and the class has 6 weeks to find her or else she dies. With that proclamation he ends the class and the action begins.
You really get to know the characters, and you really do get caught up in the chase, and you really are surprised by the ending...
This is a great book...one that is highly recommended by me...