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    Fun Maze of A Plot

    Judith Carrington has finally found herself and, in her middle age, she is content. The first couple of decades of her life were filled with torment and the peace she has found would have been inconceivable in her youth. As she is going through the airport on her way home from a work trip, the front page of a newspaper throws her back into the chaos of her younger years. Casey has had it rough since the one fateful night in his early 20s. Ever since then, he has lost touch with his friends, lost his confidence, lost his hope. He is successful in business but it can never fill the void that was left in him since that night. Just when he thought it could not get worse, he finds himself as the main suspect in a murder investigation from that night. The night when, young and dumb, he and his friends decide to visit an abandoned penitentiary. Not all of them come out alive. None of them can ever forget. Decades later, the past comes back for a visit in more ways than one. The first few chapters were difficult to get through because there is so much information that is not coming together to make a clear picture yet. There are about 8 characters introduced in the first couple of pages and the plot jumps not only between past and present, but between narratives as well. It was almost enough to make me put down the book and mark it as a "DNF". However, once this has been navigated, it reads far more smoothly. Another reason why the first few chapters were difficult to get through, for me anyway, is because it started off in what seemed like a different genre at the time. It is a mystery/thriller but the mysterious villain initially seemed to be hinted towards supernatural in nature. I had feared it would become a sci-fi horror and it was starting to give me nightmares. It took me several days to read this book because I put it down often to try to understand the difference between characters or I was terrified. Fortunately, by soldiering on through the chapters, the confusion cleared and it became far more exciting and deep. It is not just a book about murder. This is a book about how even the strongest of friendships can fray. How the future is never what we expect it to be, nor are people always what they seem. It is also a book that shows several examples of how one person's choice can affect many people's lives. Even if it is to make that person's life better. As I got further into this maze of a plot, I became entranced with the secrets of the characters. The turns are sharp but the design is masterful. I felt connected to each character. I felt fear, sorrow, happiness, and hope. Small details from the beginning of the book come back to play a bigger part later. I have already recommended this book to others and will continue to do so for it is just that incredible. My favorite character in this book was a tie between Benny and Casey. Innocent little Benny whose childish mischief carries with him in age. Casey who has an excitable optimism, despite his weak self-image, and a pure sense of love. I would recommend this book for readers who can fight through the initial confusion to get to the main road. I also would recommend this book for readers who enjoy deeply complex characters and do not mind the frequent jumping from past to present. Lastly, I would recommend this book for those who like fast-paced and mostly dark plots. On the other hand, I would not recommend this book for readers who may be sensitive to the following: foul language, drug use, violence, sexually suggestive scenarios, and abortion. Please note: a paperback copy of this book was generously provided by LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.
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    Detailed and interesting characters

    I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It was a bit of a different story than I expected it to be only because I don't tend to read book summaries very carefully. I went into this book expecting a straight forward mystery thriller but I think that this book really a bit different. I didn't really think that the mystery was really the main driving point of the book instead the focus was on the characters and how their lives have changed since the event at the prison. I am glad that I decided to give the book a try. This book focuses on several different periods of time. In 1980, this group of friends were locked in an abandoned prison and one of them never made it out. The other main focus of the book is set in more recent times when her body is finally discovered. There are some chapters that are told entirely during one period of time but a lot of the book set in the more recent times include a lot of memories. The past is obviously still a big part of these characters present day. The book spends some time with each member of the group that was at the prison that night back in 1980. The main focus really seemed to be on Judith's life since that day. Her life is nothing like it was back then. Her situation has changed dramatically but it really doesn't have anything to do with what happened at the prison that night. I did have a few issues with the story. Judith's deception to her husband of many years just seemed like to big of a stretch. I don't really understand how a close married couple like that would be able to keep such a huge secret from each other. I also don't get how the body could of been lost for so long when it was right there the whole time. Did they not do a proper search? I also feel like I should probably warn readers that there is a scene in this book where an individual is putting shelter dogs to sleep one after another as part of his job. I know this happens and I really wish it didn't but I know that reading that kind of scene will bother some readers. The writing is what really won me over with this book. The story just flowed and even when I was questioning a plot point, I didn't want to put the book down. The point of views in the story seemed to be changed exactly when they needed to be and I always felt like the book was moving forward. The memories of the past worked into the sections set in the present worked perfectly. This was a book that I read very quickly because it completely held my attention. I would recommend this book to others. The book isn't perfect but the writing is great and the story is solid. This is the first book by Jennifer Finney Boylan that I have read but I would definitely pick her work up again in the future. I received a review copy of this book from Crown Publishing via Blogging for Books.
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    6 friends enter an abandoned prison, only 5 emerge

    I am voluntarily submitting my honest review after receiving an ARC of this ebook from NetGalley. This book is a portrait of six college students who break into an abandoned prison in 1980 one night, looking for a thrill, but get more than they bargained for when the realize the doors have locked behind them. In a horrifying turn of events, the group is separated, and one member of the party ends up dead. The surviving five go their separate ways and try to move on, but they are forever changed. When new evidence is discovered decades later and Jon is charged with murder, only Judith can testify to his innocence. However, in helping Casey, Judith risks exposing secrets of her own that could destroy the life she has painstakingly built in the aftermath of that fateful night. While the mystery is good, the novel is really a character study. What captivated me was Boylan's writing style. Her lyrical, almost melodic prose flows so freely it is almost like music in parts. Unfortunately, there are some parts of the plot that don't hold up to scrutiny. SPOI:LER ALERT!!! For example, why does it take so long for investigators to discover the body if it was there since the murder occurred? Logically, the search parties should have discovered it when the five survivors emerged without the sixth member of their party. SPOILER OVER--In any case, this book is still a good, quick read, and perfect for the times we live in currently. It is incredibly thought provoking, both in a personal sense and in a larger context, begging a variety of questions. How does our past continually shape our future, even when we make a conscious effort to leave it behind? What obligation do we have to tell the complete truths about ourselves to help others, even if in saving others we may destroy ourselves and others close to us? Are lies of omission ever justified? Can one major event separate our life into a "before" and an "after" or must the two lives always converge? The book also more obliquely begs the question of whether Judith's life would have been any different if she were born now in what is presumably an age of greater tolerance (or at least was until the last election)?
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