Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tighter by Adele Griffin

When 17-year-old Jamie arrives on the idyllic New England island of Little Bly to work as a summer au pair, she is stunned to learn of the horror that precedes her. Seeking the truth surrounding a young couple's tragic deaths, Jamie discovers that she herself looks shockingly like the dead girl—and that she has a disturbing ability to sense the two ghosts. Why is Jamie's connection to the couple so intense? What really happened last summer at Little Bly? As the secrets of the house wrap tighter and tighter around her, Jamie must navigate the increasingly blurred divide between the worlds of the living and the dead.

I love stories like this, where there’s an amazing twist at the end. Especially when the story has been well researched, meticulously plotted, and executed to perfection.

Tighter was definitely well researched, and the story was vividly created. The explanation of the ghosts was interesting and believable, as is Jamie’s reactions to them.

The story was also meticulously plotted, but the execution left me feeling kind of lukewarm. It didn't feel like it had been seamlessly put together. At least, not the way I've seen in other stories, where amazing clues are subtly planted throughout the story, and then click into place the second the twist is revealed. It’s like the entire book has been sitting under a veil, and, once you know what to look for, you can see the clues shining right through that veil.

The clues in Tighter were there, but they weren’t in the right places. As a result, it felt like the story was progressing as if nothing else was going on, with no foreshadowing. When the big twist was revealed, my reaction wasn't "Oh wow, I didn't see that coming, but it totally fits!" Instead, it was "What? But that doesn’t make any sense." I then proceeded to flip back through the story to look for inconsistencies. To the author's credit, I didn't find any. However, I didn't find any clues from a reliable source, either. The story just goes along with the status quo until everything is turned upside down. I wish the foreshadowing had been done better.

I've said this before, but it's easy to fool someone you don't know. If I've never seen the sky and a stranger tells me it's green, then I have no reason to doubt him. But if he leaves me a sliver of inconsistency, then I can eventually figure it out. And, I can also appreciate all the creative ways he built up and reinforced that deception. Without that shadow of a doubt, I have no reason to question anything. Therefore, when the truth is revealed, I won't be in the proper place to understand its significance. For me, this is what happened in Tighter. I wasn’t in the proper place to fully appreciate the twist at the end.

If this doesn’t bother you, then you’ll probably like this story. For me, endings are my pet peeve, and I need a big payoff. So it brought my enjoyment down a big notch.


Kelly Hashway said...

I love foreshadowing. I need it in a book. While the story sounds good, I don't know if I'll like it. Plus, I kind of think the whole girl looks just like the dead girl thing has been done a lot.

Tabitha said...

Yeah, I'm with you. I was psyched about this book because it was a National Book Award finalist, and my taste usually runs with theirs. Not so much in this case. :)

Laila Knight said...

I love surprise endings...and it seems like there are a lot of YAs out there now. Thanks for sharing this one. :)

Midnyte Reader said...

You bring up some very valid points that bother me as well. I love a good mystery, but if it falls flat it's really disappointing. You wrote this review really well!