Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Review: "Josie and Jack" by Kelly Braffet

For my first book of the year, I decided to read the first novel by an author who wrote one of the best books that I read last year, Save Yourself.  Kelly Braffet’s searing gothic thrill ride Josie and Jack, although having many of the pitfalls that can come with an unheralded first novel, still manages to be interesting and have characters who are real in their actions and truly revolting in what they say to one another. This novel really balances between high art and low brow heinous shenanigans, even though both types of writing Braffet is expert at doing. It is only towards the tend of the novel, which I will get to soon, where events really lose steam, even during a truly evil series of events perpetrated on one main character by another, ending not with a bang, but with an uncustomary whimper that some will like, but left me wanting a lot more from a book that promised a lot. The two title characters, Josie, the younger male sister of Jack, a nasty manipulative person, live with their abhorrent father, a college professor who preaches about the how much better society would be if more people were as cynical as he was. Most of the time, these two are left to their own devises, such as a memorable section where Jack forces Josie to become romantically involved with a local boy in order to get a drug connection, ending in a heartbreaking loss for Josie. Once these two escape the house, I admit I lost a lot of interest, especially when their father, Raeburn, leaves the narrative, for his misguided rants were a highlight of this book. And despite something horrible Jack does to Josie, leading to a chilling final line, I felt something was missing from this book, which Braffet seems to have found that with her most recent output.

Rating: 4/5

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