Saturday, June 30, 2012

Review: Ripper - Amy Carol Reeves

by Amy Carol Reeves
Young Adult
Read From: June 19, 2012 - June 21, 2012

Cover Blurb: It isn’t the most wonderful out there, in my opinion. It has the quality of a self-published novel, the girl on the front looks as if she belongs on one of those cheap Christian novels, and it simply tries too hard to be mysterious and foreboding with the Ripper standing in the background. I do, however, like the title font; the end of the R turning into a blade is a nice little touch, and I like that the brotherhood’s crest is shown on the back so we Readers know what it looks like when we first read about it in the story.

What I Liked: The storyline itself is interesting, even with its paranormal aspect. I don’t normally go for a paranormal twist on actual historical events, but in this case it was acceptable. The two leading male characters, William and Simon, were both likable, their dislike for one another not getting too much in the way of things. Simon is the typical young, caring doctor, while William is the character who starts off dismissive of Abbie, but begins to respect her as he learns of her strengths. Abbie herself is an acceptable protagonist. She’s not faint of heart, she doesn’t tote around an attitude, and she does what needs to be done. I also liked that the love triangle actually worked rather than got annoying. Abbie isn’t constantly agonizing over, “Oh, do I like Simon or William better?” She loves one of them and likes the other as a friend, so it works.

What I Disliked: The Ripper’s identity was too obvious. As soon as he was introduced as himself - that is, as not the Ripper, - I knew he was the Ripper. It was also painfully obvious that the only reason the Author made William a bit of a jerk was to create tension between him and Abbie. William didn’t seem like a genuine jerk, so when he said something mean, it felt off. And Abbie’s very sudden attraction to William was annoying because it only served to make her seem like a flake. Seriously; she just met him in the middle of surgery. Attractiveness would be the last thing on my mind.

Believability: The Author has clearly either been to London or has studied a lot of maps. Either that or she is very good at faking like she knows London, because it felt like she knew what she was talking about when she talked about London geographically. As far as historical events go, she has definitely done research there, and she actually did a fair amount of in-depth reading into the Ripper cases (you’d be surprised at how many Authors haven’t). But I question how much research she did when it comes to Victorian social conduct. While I could accept that Abbie is rough around the edges because of her upbringing, I could not ignore that all of the other characters ignored social protocol as well. The way the men behaved around Abbie, their familiar use of her first name without invite (and I’m not referring to Dr. Bartlett, since his forwardness is explained), and such things as that. There was just things one did not do then, like nowadays, and none of the characters followed this. Lack of attention to such day-to-day details detracts from a story’s authentic feel. Two minor historical infractions that also bothered me were 1)Dr. Bartlett says that though he is a physician (and therefore knows better), he must indulge his smoking habit. In 1888, they still thought smoking was healthy for a person. And 2)Abbie’s grandmother is using a quill pen. While there were certainly probably a few people who still used quill pens in 1888, the fountain pen had been invented and was in popular use. These are minor faults, as I said, but they just personally irritated me a little bit.

Writing Style: The Author isn’t a bad writer. She knows how to write creepy scenes. Plenty of Abbie’s run-ins with the Ripper are literally hair-raising, and I even felt paranoid going to bed. The murders were gristly without being overly graphic. However, the majority of dialogue was not in keeping with 1888, having a very modern structure and some modern words. And like with all modern Authors, she sometimes indulged in superfluous details. Why do we Readers need to know the exact substances that caused the different stains on Abbie’s apron? Why do we need to know that it was specifically the middle finger of her right hand that was burned? Why do we need to be reminded that the jellyfish glow every time Abbie enters the room?

Content: For the most part, it was light. Clearly, there is violence, what with the story involving the Ripper. But as was said earlier, it isn’t overly graphic. There is 1 g--damn and 1 f-word. And Simon randomly informs Abbie that a super-minor character, one that we Readers don’t even meet, has a collection of pornography hidden within his library. This is also something that goes under What I Disliked, simply because this little tidbit of information was completely irrelevant to anything that happens in the book. Why did we need to know this about this character we never even meet?

Conclusion: Typical. Abbie finds herself in a creepy dark house with a bunch of murderers trying to kill her, and all she has to rely on is a knife and a few miscellaneous household items, like flammable liquids, ancient and unreliable guns, and a tank full of poisonous jellyfish. The “chase” wasn’t as ridiculous as some I’ve read, but it came perilously close to one of those scenes at the end of a horror film, where the protagonist keeps trying to kill the villain(s), and is constantly unsuccessful. It also ends with the promise of a sequel. I’m divided about whether or not I’m pleased with this news. This could have so easily been a single book, but so long as the Author doesn’t stretch it past two, I think it could work.

Recommended Audience: Mystery fans, of course, and people who love stories about the Ripper - or just murderers in general. And historical-fiction fans who don’t mind a paranormal twist. It’s more of a “girl read” than a “guy read,” and definitely intended for an older teen audience, though adults would enjoy it just as much as the teens.

Others in This Trilogy:

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