Originally posted at my blog Chasing Empty Pavements
I waited in extreme anticipation for this one, so when Netgalley and Mira publishing graciously approved me for the title I was so excited. I absolutely FELL in love with Gudenkauf's first novel The Weight of Silence but her second one didn't hit the mark with me so I was a little nervous about her latest one. This one was actually really, very good.
I am a huge fan of rotating POV's and short chapters. I think Gudenkauf pulled this off amazingly. I love not having chapter numbers and having these short little snippets of characters. In a way, it's almost like a cliff hanger without actually being one.... kind of like commercials in the middle of TV shows! I love *almost* all of the voices and thought there were some that were especially drawn out and developed beautifully. I LOVED Mrs. Oliver, Augie, P.J. and Will. They were all amazing characters. I think though, the premise of this novel is what had me hooked. Especially in light of the recent Aurora, CO shooting. The whole idea of a lone gunmen taking a small town school hostage is just pure genius. There's just SO much tension in that one little premise it's crazy. The thing about all three of Gudenkauf's books is the way she is able to keep the reader turning the page at a break-neck pace. I couldn't get my hands to turn the page fast enough. I wanted more, more, more. Her pacing is fantastic and the tension/suspense is palpable and great for a mystery novel. As usual, Gudenkauf's Iowa setting was perfect. I loved the small town Iowa feel that I got throughout the novel. This was especially poignant when all the parents/grandparents were waiting outside the school together. The way they interact with each other is totally indicative of small town Iowa life. (I should know, I'm an Iowan).
The few things I have to criticize for this novel is kinda complex. First off, while I loved the rotating narratives, in a way, I felt this almost hindered the story because by the end, I was very disappointed with the climax. I felt there wasn't enough background information on the character to believe what was going on. It also didn't seem like a believable enough motive for what the person was doing. I really wish this part could have been better developed because then the book would have been near perfect for me. The other thing that was slightly disappointing is the lack of development in some of the other characters. Holly and Meg weren't developed nearly enough but I feel that's the risk you run into when you're writing 5 different POV's. There were some chapters that were weak with dialogue and description but those, I'm willing to look past because the majority of the book was really good.
Overall, I really liked this book. I think it tackled quite a tough situation, one that's becoming more and more prevalent. I still can't believe how fast-paced it was and loved that I could devour it in almost one sitting. I recommend this book for mystery fans, Heather Gudenkauf fans and any one from Iowa...obviously.
**I received this book free from the publisher through www.netgalley.com. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.