Monday, December 20, 2010

Book Review: The Well

The Well
By A.J. Whitten

Synopsis:  (From Powells)
If Hamlet thought he had issues, he should have talked to Cooper Warner.
His mothers normally sunny demeanor has turned into something—homicidal.
And whats worse, she has help in her hunt for Cooper: A ravenous monster living at the bottom of the old well in the woods behind their house. Shes determined to deliver her 14-year-old son straight into the creatures eager clutches. Cooper turns to his girlfriend, Megan, for help, but then, to his horror, the creature takes her prisoner.
Now, its up to Cooper to fend off his murderous mother, finish his Hamlet paper, and enter the putrid lair at the bottom of the well to rescue Megan. And when he confronts the creature, Cooper must make the toughest decision of his life: kill, or be killed.
Inspired by Hamlet, THE WELL puts a terrifying twist on the Shakespearean classic. 
Why I picked up this book:  I blame it on the synopsis.  In all honesty, I don't really like the cover.  But how could I resist a synopsis about a crazy mom, a monster in a well, and Hamlet?

My thoughts:  
I have to start with a bit of a confession here:  I am not a Shakespeare fan.  I know... I have lived my whole life acting on the stage and devouring books as fast as I can snatch them.  It almost seems an unwritten rule then that I must love and adore Shakespeare.  But... as much as his writing is amazing and his story lines have helped propel most likely thousands of other books, plays and movies plots... I just have never gotten into his works.  The only reason I know anything of Hamlet was because I half watched a movie in my english class in high school years ago...

That being said... I really did enjoy this book.  Certain scenes truly did touch back onto Hamlet, while others were obviously the author running off on her own.  Maybe saying I was "happily" pulled into the story isn't the right word choice given the horror-genre of the book, but I did devour it.  

There were moments when I was hoping for more.  As in more of an outcome, more of an explanation... more.  But even without those few moments expanded like I would have liked, I felt "complete" by the end.  Oh, and the end... yes, well, you need to read it I guess.  I connected easily to Cooper, while at times almost finding myself rooting for the monster as well. (Call it a weakness, I like a "good" bad guy who has a sympathetic back story.)

My only negative is the metaphors and similes used.  I would be chugging along, totally into the book, then a sentence would pop up like: "The forest crackled like a bowl of Rice Krispies."  And that's not the only one.   I do remember one about referring a group to a crowd waiting for a Miley Cyrus concert...  Every time I read those, I cringed inside and felt my attention to the story slip slightly.  They were funny, yes... but the story wasn't funny, making them feel very out of place and distracting.  All they did was... not fit.  Ok, my whining there is over.

Fun fact: A.J. Whitten is actually the pen name for romance author Shirley Jump and her daughter Amanda Jump.  I think its very awesome that they are writing together.

Even though I did not like the metaphors used, I loved the story.  It is something I am gladly keeping on my shelf and will most likely read again, sometime.  The Well is an awesome, modern twist on Hamlet, sure to grab both male and female readers looking for a quick horror fix.  I have already recommended it to friends to read, and yes, I recommend it to you too!  Watch out for the well...
My Rating:
4 out of 5 stars
(Rating this one was hard.  I was battling between 3 and 4 stars, but I decided to be nice and let it edge up to the 4.  A few more of those metaphors though and it would have been bumped down... FYI)

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