Review: RAVENS by George Dawes Green

After a family wins a big lottery, they are threatened by a pair of drifters who want to share in the winnings. The leader, Shaw, inveigles himself into the family’s life while the other, Romeo, stays on the outskirts ready to pounce on unsuspecting family members living in the same small town as the lottery winners.

I was a bit disappointed with this book. I found that the antagonists, Shaw and Romeo, were just not that scary. Romeo was actually soft-hearted and it was too difficult to believe that he could be a cold-hearted killer. He spent most of the book trying to get up the nerve to shoot somebody if it proved to be necessary. Shaw was more believable. His character was skewed and nasty and I could see someone with a personality like his causing a situation as described in this novel. The family members were a bit flat even given their peccadilloes – mother alcoholic, father religious, young son spoiled. The only level-headed family member was Tara, a clever young student, and I thought she could have figured out a dozen ways to extricate her family from Shaw’s clutches. Also, I found Tara’s relationship with her best friend Clio a bit odd. Do small town girls really speak the way they do to each other? It had me questioning the true nature of their friendship. Clio seemed to hold sway over Tara the same way Shaw did over Romeo but Tara’s relationship with her friend appeared out of character. From page 26:

“Oh shut up. You’re not gonna lose me. Who’s my bitch?”
She put her hand on Clio’s neck.
Said Clio, “Let go of me now, degenerate.”
Tara said, “You’d love it.”

This dialogue is also an example of the slightly off-putting use of the word, ‘said’ in several instances. I found it a bit awkward since it lead me to re-read the dialogue several times wondering why the author did this. As a result, it took me out of the story - which for a word used only as a necessary literary tool is not a good thing. I think the reader is not supposed to notice words such as ‘said’, ‘the’ and ‘he/she’. But perhaps it’s just a form of writing that needs getting used to.

Despite all of this the plot wasn’t so bad that it didn't keep me reading. I wanted to know how it would all turn out and I did like the ending. It may be that I simply caught this book at a bad time, and I would have found less fault with it if I had read it in a different frame of mind.


Tina on August 10, 2009 at 11:55 AM said...

Very nice review. I had been wondering about this book since I had heard about it in several places but had never seen a review for it.

Diane on August 10, 2009 at 5:47 PM said...

Great review. I hope to get the audio version.

Staci on August 10, 2009 at 11:16 PM said...

That happened to me when I was reading Dekker's last book, Bone Man. He used this weird expression that occurred every other chapter and it drove me to distraction!!!!! I would like to read this sometime.

bermudaonion on August 11, 2009 at 10:29 AM said...

I totally agree that the time you read a book can affect your enjoyment. Both my husband and I liked this one, but my hubby did have some of the same feelings you expressed about Romeo and Shaw at the beginning.


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