16 June 2011

Post 393: You're Next

You're Next by Gregg Hurwitz. ISBN: (advanced copy - US release July 5, 2011).

Although this is a fairly typical example of a mystery thriller, there are some things I think Hurwitz does rather well. The first is tracing Michael Wingate's transformation from loved child to abandoned foster care kid to hooligan to respected citizen and family man to suspected terrorist. With all of these different personalities and perceptions at play, Hurwitz made the changes seem, if not smooth, then at least in line with Wingate's reasoning.

What I was more impressed with was how well he wrote Kat, Michael's precocious 8-year old daughter. I have seen so many poorly constructed young characters in adult literature that this was a very nice change. Not only that, but Kat was actually enjoyable. Rather than being constantly whiny or in the way, Kat behaved like a child. She was occasionally whiny or difficult, but that was not her modus operandi, she had emotions just like you would expect anyone her age and in her circumstances to have. She was also presented as someone who didn't know what was going on only because no one bothered to explain to her what was happening because they assumed she wouldn't understand. Almost as soon as Michael made it clear what he was doing and why, she got with the program. She didn't always like it, but eight is about the right age where they start questioning parental reasoning, without getting to the point of actually questioning parental authority (usually).

Yet she's also at that age where she is testing. I especially enjoyed an exchange of dialog where Michael states that Kat's sandwich isn't going to eat itself, and she says, 'But if it did, that'd be really cool.' This is more or less the exact response I would expect from an eight year old acting up. It is borderline enough to be cute and lippy without going overboard. I made me smile without also wanting to throw my hands up and walk away because it was too cute.

I imagine that children are especially hard to write because it's easier to have children behave a certain way all of the time. So often we forget what it was like to be a child, or even be around them. When you get to be a certain age, it seems that you have no contact with children until you have some of your own. If you don't have your own... well, then you're kind of that awkward aunt or uncle at the part that slowly stops getting invited to parties because everyone else is talking about diapers and you just bought a new gaming console. For yourself. I would love to know how Hurwitz pulled this off, because there are quite a few writers who could benefit from his knowledge.

My review can be found on Goodreads.
LibsNote: Advanced copy of the US version provided by publicist.

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