Monday, 16 December 2013


Ten by Gretchen McNeil

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives - three days at an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted. Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

I'm not entirely sure what possessed me to buy this book. I find mysteries, particularly of the murder variety, very difficult to enjoy. I like to guess who the killer is. If I'm right, the book was too obvious and what was the point of reading it? If I'm wrong, the book is stupid and how can it possibly be that guy when it was clearly that other guy all along. I accept that this is a failing on my part, not the part of any writer. And yet, I am still inexplicably drawn to these types of books.

And I'm glad because I loved this one. Obviously I'm not going to spoil the ending for you, but I was satisfied with the identity of the killer. I wasn't totally happy with how the ending played out, for reasons I won't discuss because of spoilers, but on the whole I enjoyed the book and was satisfied with the ending. I suspect part of the reason I didn't enjoy the ending is because I was racing through it in the last five minutes of my lunch break, determined to finish it before going back to work. I think this was a mistake. I should have left it at the revelation of the killer and then saved the rest for later on, but I couldn't resist. I just had to know.

It's gripping, it's exciting, it's tense. One night after reading it, I freaked myself out so badly that I found it very difficult to sleep. That's not something I can say of any book I've read since I was about ten. I don't even know how McNeil managed to ratchet up the tension the way she did because I wasn't paying close attention to the writing - I forgot the writing and just absorbed the story. It was utterly engrossing. I'd seen many positive reviews for the book in the months before I bought it, and I'm delighted to say it was a rare book that actually lived up to the hype.

Part of the reason I loved it so much, I think, was that it reminded me of the TV show Harper's Island, which was about a wedding taking place on a small island. The friends and family of the couple gathered to celebrate their marriage, and then started to drop like flies. It's an awesome series, one which you should definitely try and see, right after you read this book. Or before. I don't mind which order you do it in, as long as you get both, because they're so worth it.

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