Thursday, 6 January 2011

The Raising

This is a standalone novel and the first I have read by Laura Kasischke. I received an ARC copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Goodreads blurb:

The accident was tragic, yes. Bloody and horrific and claiming the life of a beautiful young sorority girl. NICOLE was a straight A student from a small town. Sweet-tempered, all-American, a fomer Girl Scout, and a virgin. But it was an accident. And that was last year. It’s fall again, a new semester, a fresh start.

CRAIG, who has not been charged with murder, is focusing on his classes, and also on avoiding Nicole’s sorority sisters, who seem to blame him for her death even though the police did not.

PERRY, Craig’s roommate, is working through his own grief (he grew up with Nicole, after all, and had known her since kindergarten) by auditing Professor Polson’s sociology class: Death, Dying, and the Undead.

MIRA has been so busy with her babies—two of them, twins, the most perfect boys you could imagine, but still a nearly impossible amount of work even with Clark’s help—that she can barely keep herself together to teach (Death, Dying and the Undead), let alone write the book she'll need to publish for tenure.

And SHELLY, who was the first person at the scene of the accident, has given up calling the newspapers to tell them that, despite the "lake of blood" in which they keep reporting the victim was found, the girl Shelly saw that night was not bloody, and not dead.

The book is written from the different points of view of the four people in the blurb and also jumps back and forth in time. This made it a little confusing on occasions and I sometimes had to pause before starting a chapter to let my poor brain catch up. Most of the time it wasn't too much of an issue however, and it kept the book fresh and exciting with no time to get bored of one persons narrative.

There is an eerie feel throughout the book, a sense that something is amiss but the plot twists and turns and keep you guessing about both the main characters and what really happened to Nicole. Just as you think you know what might have happened, or think you understand one characters, something happens that changes your mind.

The relationships in the book were interesting, but I just didn't understand why Craig was so obsessed with Nicole and the level of obsession - he barely questioned anything she did, or stopped as soon as she pouted- was a bit too unrealistic for me.

I think that the POV I enjoyed most was Mira's. This was partly because I found the subject of death and death rituals fascinating (I would have loved to have been one of her students) and also that I found the relationship with her husband and its breakdown wonderfully and sensitively written.

With the books I have been reading I am used to either some questions left hanging to be picked up by the next in the series, or everything wrapped up In a neat little storyline bow. So imagine my initial surprise/dismay at not having the story fully concluded!

When I had finished I was initially disappointed with all the loose ends left floating. On reflection, however, the ending given matched the tone of the book and ensured that the eerie atmosphere lingered with me long after the book was closed. And a clear sign to me of a good book is one that stays with you long after reading.

The book is an adult novel and contains explicit language and sexuality. The sexual scenes are not what I would consider gratuitous however, and actually add to the plot rather than being a distraction from it.

In all I would give this book 4/5 stars and wouldn't be surprised to see this on bestseller lists later this year.

The Raising: A Novel (P.S.)

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