Originally published at my blog Chasing Empty Pavements
So my review of this novel is kind of like reviewing an old friend because I’ve been reading this book over the course of the last couple months for my Novel Writing class. Reading something over a couple months span I’ve realized has its pros. I feel like I have a really firm grasp on this novel and the characters because I’ve spent so much time with it. For my class, I had to break down the novel and really spend an adequate amount of time with the chapters analyzing plot, character, pacing etc. Normally I don’t spend that much time with a novel so I feel like this might just be one of the most well informed reviews I’ll ever have up here.
The Good: Michelle Huneven really knows how to develop memorable characters. Joey, Brice, Patsy and Gilles are brilliant characters. Huneven takes her time developing them and by the end of the novel, Patsy pretty much jumps off the pages. I love the concept of Blame because it’s based on a situation that could (and probably has) happened. A woman gets black out drunk and runs over two people killing them. It’s not an overly abnormal situation, it’s happened and it’s not too hard to imagine a situation like that happening to someone today. Huneven takes this reality and really delves into the consequences with Patsy. We get a real sense of what prison is like for someone like Patsy and we learn how someone might handle their guilt and transition into society after their prison term has ended. We learn that Patsy settles for things in life that she normally wouldn’t have just because she feels it’s all she deserves. It’s a way to punish herself, to remind herself of the crime she committed. I love the slight but powerful nod to the gay community and the start of the HIV virus that Huneven slides into the story. She also throws an enormous wrench in the plot towards the end that is crazy awesome and makes the story that much more deep and meaningful. I also thought Huneven did well adding comic relief to the parts that were a little depressing. It’s not a book I felt utterly sad about when I was done. I felt a sense of accomplishment when it was over. I also thought the ending was very well done. It wraps up the loose ends but not in the “everything-ends-so-perfectly” way.
The Bad: Nothing really negative to say about the novel except that I HATE IT when authors don’t put dialogue in quotations. I don’t know why it irritates me as much as it does, but really…. That’s why the quotations were made. What is the reasoning behind not using them? It bugs the crap out of me. But that really is just a nit-picky detail. I really don’t have anything else negative to say about it.
Overall, I really thought this was a great book. It was well written, the plot and characters were fully and wonderfully developed and it was really a polished piece of literature. I give it an A!