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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady by Elizabeth Stuckey-French

Hi there readers!


It’s Wednesday, the halfway point for another week survived…err, umm lived…and one day closer to the end of the month.  Where DID March go?  Seriously, it seems like it passed in a flash and April is just coming like a locomotive, full steam ahead!  Quick reminder for those of you that haven't already, your chance to win a copy of Horns by Joe Hill ends 04/03/11...don't miss out!  Anywho…

Today we’re taking a look at a book I read some time ago and it took me this long to gather my thoughts for a review.  Yep.  It’s one of those books that just defy traditional explanation…or at least it was to me.  Ready for my attempt at putting my rambling thoughts into words?  Here. We. Go.  Today’s book of choice is….

by

“Seventy-seven-year-old Marylou Ahearn is going to kill Dr. Wilson Spriggs, come hell or high water.”  A strong statement from a woman that should be reaching a more reflective state in their life (or so we assume) and yet one that acts as the fuel to her daily routine for oh-so-many years.  You see, Marylou was pregnant once upon a time and adamant in making sure that she provided the best care for her child before and after the blessed arrival, so a trip to the doctor’s was only natural.  Lucky for her, the health care system works in her favor providing a great doctor no matter if you’re a millionaire or a pauper.  Unlucky for her, this particular doctor was working with the government on a secret project and that vitamin drink she just received to boost her health, wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.  The consequences are dire…but for whom?  If Marylou has her way, in the end…Spriggs is gonna pay.

For those of you that may have followed my reading journey with this one, you’ll know that it lingered…and lingered….and, well you get the point.  I being the dedicated (and somewhat stubborn) reader that I am, avoid DNF reviews like the plague.  What’s a DNF?  Stands for “did not finish”; you’ll see them around the blogosphere sometimes.  While they aren’t necessarily pretty, they are a handy tool when you encounter a book that just doesn’t work for you in a more extreme way than you merely don’t mesh with a situation or character.  They can be a blessing in disguise.  So why do I avoid them?  Simple.  If a book attracted my eye enough to purchase, request or accept it for a review (because I don’t just say ooh a book, gimme…I actually look into them first)...there has to be SOMETHING redeeming about it, otherwise, why did I even bother and so with my head held high (and my eyelids clothes pinned open) I pushed through this unusual read.

While some found the characters to be “endearing” or so the back cover of my ARC suggests.  I on the other hand, had the darnedest time getting into the book and staying there.  For me it was like a house of distant relatives that you hardly know and yet still visit from time to time.  Great for a quick stay, but anything over an hour and you’re ready to fake amnesia and run off into the night.  Seriously.  We have Marylou, newly christened as Nancy Archer (yep…THAT Nancy Archer, as in Attack of the 50-Foot Woman), with her life long (as in 50 years in the making) vendetta against Dr. Spriggs moving to Florida to carry out her dastardly plans…and yet the plan isn’t really a plan at all.  It’s got a goal but no concrete means to carry it out by making all her actions appear as reactions to the situation she encounters…and what a situation it is. 

Dr. Spriggs has not aged nearly as well as Marylou…err, Nancy…and this leaves his brain in a bit of a fog.  He has moments of clarity, some being rather frightening due to Nancy’s constant “I’m-going-to-kill-you” monolog (yeah, she actually TELLS him…and keeps telling, and telling and…), but they are few and far between leaving him confused and utterly in a world of his own.  Vic, his son-in-law, puts more into his work and love of hurricanes (yes, he actually WANTS to experience one…stupid man [sorry but there is not other way to put that nicely…they are called “violent acts of nature” for a reason]) than he does into his family, leaving the door open for “other opportunities” to waltz in if you know what I mean.  Caroline, Dr. Spriggs’ daughter and Vic’s wife, has let her children’s condition (Ava and Otis have Asperger’s syndrome) guide her as oppose to her love for them.  Speaking of children….this group needs a visit from Nanny McPhee and pronto!

Ava, Otis and Suzi are for the most part left to fend for themselves in this odd little family and more often than not, it lands them in troubling situations.  Ava is a beautiful girl, a point that Nancy sets out to exploit, but her decisions are not always sound.  When Nancy convinces her to get photos done to submit to a “Top Model” competition, things go wrong fast when she’s approached to do a few nude shots.  She was adamant that she didn’t want to from the beginning but then a little reverse psychology later and boom, the photos are being taken.  At least Ava’s character recognizes the trick Nancy is using, but she still doesn’t manage to say no…leaving this reader unsettled and with good reason.  Later on in the book, it’s revealed that Buff (aka Reverend Coffey) may look like Orlando Bloom but is more snake-like than the Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets…and his involvement with both Ava and Suzi is enraging.  Seriously, the dude has whatever’s coming to him, coming to him…and the scenes later on in the Church?  Ugh!  Moving forward to avoid spoilage…

Otis is a young lad intent on creating a name for himself, but when left to his own devices and the here-now-gone-again memory of a once big time scientist (aka Granddad Spriggs) develops a working model of…well, you’ll have to read it to see, but trust me it’s dangerous; as in men wearing white space suits show up to remove it kind of dangerous.  Suzi is the family’s star child having missed any health issues encoded in her genetics and being blessed with stellar soccer abilities.  Too bad all she really wants is someone to talk to and pay attention to her, apart from her sports abilities; let’s just say it leads to some rather bad choices to find that attention. 

Story wise, while the premise was “interesting” I gotta say the follow through was simply odd.  It wasn’t the writing style as that was fine and the author definitely gets points for imagination (twisted though it is at times) but the actual steps that got our leading lady from point A to point B, especially the conclusion, just seemed unrealistic to me.  Grant it, I know it’s a fiction book so make believe is part of the game but it simply felt unnatural especially after the big face-to-face reveal near book’s end.  Then again, the book is starring a “radioactive lady” so I suppose it might fit the situation, just perhaps not this reader.

In reflection, I have to say that one of the things that probably drew me to the book was the location in which the events take place as it’s not so far from my own current “home sweet home”.  Funny thing is though, I’ve read books situated in my original home state (PA…woo-hoo!) and more often than not enjoyed the heck out of them; this one, not my cup of tea.  I can certainly relate to the ever changing weather encountered (take today, it’s cool, will get warm or hot and then drop back down tonight…is it any wonder I’m sick half the time?) and a few of the locations visited, but it just didn’t spring to life for me like my literary visits up North.  Cie la vie…to each their own.

In conclusion (what, you thought I’d keep going and going and …hehe), when matched with the right audience, I can certainly see this one being enjoyed far more, but for me, not a good fit.  Call it a case of curiosity gone wrong, but we just didn’t mesh.  Do I regret reading it?  Ehh….no; not exactly.  Though it wasn’t pure heaven to do so, it was still a new reading adventure and there was a time or two even for this not-quite-in-love reader that I was swept up into the craziness of it all, having to know what would happen next.  Just wish it happened more as opposed to less…

Recommended reading for older teens and adult readers that enjoy multiple points of view in their literary wanderings with a large dose of craziness in the mix.  Be prepared for those “WTH” moments and you’ll do just fine.  This book was released a few weeks ago from Doubleday Publishers and is available now for purchase through your favorite online or brick and mortar outlet.  For more information about this title as well as their full catalog, feel free to stop by the publisher’s website or follow along on Twitter.  To read more about the author and her current works, stop by her site for a look around. 

Until next time...happy reading!


11 comments:

Liz @ Cleverly Inked said...

LOL a little strange for my taste.

....Petty Witter said...

you do feature some wonderfully titled books. Sorry to read that you didn't really get into this one, I'm not sure it's to my taste either. Better luck next time.

Misha said...

The title seemed like so much fun! I am sorry that the book didn't work for you. I don't think this is for me either. I have trouble getting into books with too many "WTH" moments.

GMR said...

Liz: Yeah...for mine too!

Petty Witter: ^_^ Yep, that I do.

Misha: Agreed and alas, agreed.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Bummer that it didn't really get you. But thanks for the honest review.

April said...

Excellent post and review. I have to stand up and loudly applaud your perseverance in finishing this!!! You are the WOMAN!! The storyline sounds interesting, not really feeling the cover though.

I also LOVE reading books set near where I live, it doesn't happen with little old Iowa often, but it is a draw in!

GMR said...

Juju: Totally...and you're welcome! ^_^

April: Aww...shucks. ~blush~ I do what I can. ^_^ Funny, I didn't actually mind the cover, but the texture (I know, I'm weird...LOL) of the jacket on the final book? Eww. Sorry, but it has this weird roughness to it. Will have to keep an eye out for Iowa based books.

Julie said...

I spotted this book at the library. I was interested in it because of the retro cover and the reference to the B movies. lol But other than that, I didn't really know much about it. It definitely seems crazy and a little bit confusing. Thanks for posing your honest review!

GMR said...

Julie: My pleasure! If you do read it, I'd love to know your thoughts. ^_^

The1stdaughter said...

Fantastic job with this review. I'm sad you didn't like it, for one reason or another I had hoped you would. I think I just really like the cover. hehe But I love how you mention not being able to stay connected to the book as visiting relatives you don't see for long periods of time between. You don't necessarily feel anything but ambivalent toward them, making a book like that extremely difficult to continue. So props to you for gutting it out!

Fab review as usual! :o)

GMR said...

the1stdaughter: Yeah, the cover is fairly nifty image wise....just wish it had continued that way throughout the book. Cie la vie....I came I read I FINISHED! ^_^

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