Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Ransom's Voice by Gary Dvorkin

2 stars
R- 4
Language.  Like... lots of language.
Also violence (including graphic sexual violence)
received for review

Okay, first of all I kind of hate doing more negative reviews when it's actually a scheduled blog tour type review situation.  On the other hand, I always prefer to READ negative reviews.... so maybe I'm helping somebody out there.  As of the date I finished this book, mine was certainly the only even remotely negative review on GoodReads.

Reading the positive reviews made me wonder if I'd read a different book.

I don't usually include summaries, but here's the summary of this one:
"Dominique Stein is beautiful, young, and Jewish. Her sanity is overly dependent on external cues, chameleon-like. She awakens every morning at 5:59:59. She weighs in at exactly 111, her snug palindrome. These are her ''friends.'' They keep her safe. Then, it all explodes. She desperately searches to find her way back inside that cozy bubble of sanity she had constructed. Lost, her bearings off and wobbly, her instincts are not functioning. Crimes are committed; not everyone survives. Found not guilty by virtue of temporary insanity, she is sent to a psychiatric prison for women. There she is caught between the kind, serene Freudian analyst, Dr. Haddad, and the head of the institute, the manic, megalomaniacal Dr. du Chevre, who offers her the Faustian contract; be the subject for his secretive, odd research, and he will get her out of prison earlier. Dominique has to navigate her way out of this maze of institutional insanity. Which shrink is telling her the truth? Or, are they both lying to her, manipulating her for their own strange motives? All of this while trying to survive the random explosive violence of the women's prison. In this psychological thriller, Gary Dvorkin crafts a compelling story of love, betrayal, and reality-shifting anxiety. Dominique hears many voices in her life. But which one can she trust? Which voice will ransom her sanity?"

Sounds interesting, right?  Compelling.  Fascinating.

And here's the thing-- that description is technically correct.  All of those things are in the book.

Except it's like they wrote a description of what the book wanted to be.... rather than what it actually was.

Some of the issues were first novel issues-- needed tightening and such.  There were whole sections that I don't see why they needed to be in there.  Some of the issues were of the editing variety-- sorry, but character names really need to not change at random.

Some of the problem was word choice-- I'm not sure if English isn't the author's first language or if he was trying to have a fancier vocabulary, or if it's a "American English vs Canadian English" thing but.... sometimes it was a case of "I don't think that word means what you think it means".  (Number of times the word "oleaginous" appears-- 4)

Speaking of word choice, my husband asked if I kept track of the f-word and no, I didn't, because I would have lost my mind.  For the record, he said he counted like 20 on the page he looked at over my shoulder.  Now the whole book wasn't that bad, but you get the idea.

Anyway, 2 stars for an interesting premise, but at nearly 500 pages it was way too long for what little actually happens.... except that I still don't know what happened because there's not really a nice wrap up that explains what scenes were even real.  Some were clearly delusions but rather than furthering the plot they just leave the reader wondering what the heck was real.  

I don't mind a book that keeps you guessing about the character's sanity and reality but you really have to let the reader in on it at some point.

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