Friday, December 31, 2010

Book Review: "The Grove" by John Rector

Despite the fact that I'm sitting here writing a book review, I don't put a lot of stock in people's opinions. What I've learned over the years is that each person brings something completely different to reading a book, seeing a movie, eating a meal, etc.—not just what they think, but how they're feeling or what's going on in their lives at that particular time. My general rule of thumb is, if everyone in the world pans something, I know to stay away from it unless I am willing to risk disappointment; if everyone likes something, I need to be careful to watch my expectations.

John Rector's The Grove came really well-recommended, plus the bulk of the reviews on Amazon were fairly stellar. Unfortunately, I don't agree with any of them. I found this book unexciting (particularly the conclusion), poorly edited and just kind of, well, blah. Rector took an interesting premise: Dexter McCray, an alcoholic farmer who has been struggling with his demons for a long time, wakes up from a blackout one morning to find the body of a young waitress in his cornfield. He has no memory of even encountering the woman, let alone murdering her, but in an effort to figure out what happened (and hopefully prevent suspicion from falling on him), he surreptitiously investigates the crime. And assisting him is the dead girl herself.

I felt as if Rector missed some great opportunities to tell a unique story, and instead chose the easier path, the one I've read down countless times before. McCray is an utterly unsympathetic character despite all that has happened to him, and the book never quite explains what caused the hallucination of the dead girl, and hints at other things in McCray's past but never provides detail. Rector has a new novel that was published by a major company (this book was self-published), so I may give him another try at some point, but I'm still disappointed in this book. Oh well...

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