Friday, January 22, 2016

The Invaders (by Karolina Waclawiak)

I don't know what the Tournament of Books was thinking with this one. It's like a mediocre Tom Perrotta, and I'm not a Tom Perrotta fan to begin with. I gather that it was very well-reviewed; maybe it just wasn't for me.

There are two narrators, Teddy and Cheryl. They live in a wealthy beach town, where Cheryl is Teddy's stepmother. The people in the town don't accept Cheryl, and Teddy is a bit of a douche. The beach community is insular and snobbish. From there, the story unfolds in unpredictable ways, which I did appreciate.

I had problems with each of the main characters, though. I found Teddy's first-person dialogue unconvincing and Cheryl is so frustratingly passive and opaque that it is difficult to care about her at all. Her husband, Teddy's father, is an over-the-top asshole. Actually the people in the town -- meant to embody white wealthy privilege, I guess -- are unconvincing too. It's a novel filled with caricatures. Even the names -- like who is named Teddy or Cheryl? I don't need sympathetic characters, but they never felt real to me in any way.  And actually, as unpredictable as the ending is, it's also implausible.

Again, up against Fates and Furies or A Little Life, this one loses bigtime. You never know which way the ToB is going to go, but for me, no contest. It shouldn't even be on the shortlist as far as I'm concerned.

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