Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Review: Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Review: Ten by Lauren Gretchen McNeil
Release date: September 18th, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Series: No
Source: Purchased
Rating: It's about teenagers trapped in an old house on an island with a serial killer, so it probably wasn't the best idea to read this while in an old house on an island that presumably has serial killers somewhere. So obviously, Ten scared the pants off me AND had a very surprising killer.


Don't spread the word!
Three-day weekend. Party at White Rock House on Henry Island.
You do NOT want to miss it.

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?


The story: I was lucky enough to meet Gretchen McNeil at a signing in Glendale, and let me tell you, there is a hilarious dispartity between in-real-life McNeil and on-the-page McNeil. IRL Gretchen had a huge smile, gorgeous swoopy red hair, and was wearing a vintage-esque cherry-patterned white dress like she was on The Donna Reed Show. OtP Gretchen is a blood-spattered madwoman who wields her pen like a butcher knife. I LOVE IT. Seriously, I didn't expect to enjoy this scare-fest at all, but I did. Gretchen McNeil, you crazy scary.

I can't handle horror movies, but for some reason love horror books. McNeil effectively employs a lot of classically frightening motifs to enormous effect in Ten, which is inspired by an Agatha Christie novel and other classical horror influences. It doesn't reinvent the horror wheel, but oh, how it horrifies.The book isn't perfect, but the overall mystery and murder and mayhem was brilliantly done.

Meg and her best friend Minnie, who have a very unhealthy, codependent, enabling relationship that I found fascinating and troubling, are invited to a tiny little house party on a tiny little island in the middle of a not-so-tiny storm. If this sounds like a SUPER MEGA BAD IDEA TO YOU, that's because it is. Because then kids start dying. In really awful ways.

The main character, Meg, was sadly quite flat to me. Her one defining characteristic seemed to be that she was a writer, and this was only evident because every single darn character seemed to bring it up in ever darn conversation. Every now and then she'd have a snarky comeback, which made me connect with her a bit more. I always enjoy sisters in snark. Minnie is tremendously irrititating, but I loved that about her. She's not a healthy person, and her relationship with Meg is damaging. TJ, the love interest, I kind of adored. He's a POC (YAY!) and the cutest, most popular boy in school. He's not overflowing with personality, either, but he's pretty adorable. I thought the characterization in this book was probably the weakest point, but the scary stuff was by far the strongest. Which works for me in a campy, bloody, scary kind of quick read.

THE BODY COUNT IS HIGH. The murders are delightfully gruesome and terrible and frightening. When Meg and TJ venture into the other house on the island I nearly wet myself. The final climax is frightening, even if the killer does monologue a bit. And hey! The killer was a total surprise to me, which NEVER happens. So kudos to McNeil for fooling me.

So many of the deaths were so frighteningly original that I fear somewhat for the sanity of the author (DON'T TELL HER I SAID THIS OR SHE'LL FIND ME). I said earlier that McNeil is like a madwoman with a butcher knife, but the murders in Ten are less convential and more HORRENDOUSLY CREEPY. I'm not going to tell you about any of them, but oh GOD. Oh God. OH GOD. *turns on all he lights* *never goes anywhere again*

The writing didn't exactly light my world on fire, but still. DON'T read this when you're in an old drafty probably haunted house on an island with poor internet speed at one o'clock in the morning. I'm speaking from experience.


  1. I love watching horror movies (in the dark, coincidentally) and I haven't encountered many books that truly chilled me, so I totally want to read this book now! The horror aspect sounds amazing. Even if the characters aren't the strongest, Ten is going to be on my TBR just because I think it will be entertaining.

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

  2. I really enjoyed this too. It was so well paced, and even though by the end all the deaths started to feel kinda silly and overdone, I had a great time reading it.

  3. Replies
    1. ^ If that doesn't qualify as a win, I don't know what does. *dies from awesomeness*

  4. I need to read this! Sounds like the perfect Halloween read! I love that it sounds so horrifying! Kinda reminds me of the mini series Harper Island (which I love to pieces). And look Gretchen even commented on your review! Awesomeness!

  5. I really enjoyed this too. It was so well paced, and even though by the end all the deaths started to feel kinda silly and overdone, I had a great time reading it.

  6. Ohh, I do love scary books :D I'm glad this was scary enough for you! Happy you enjoyed it :) I still need to read it.. a bit worried about writing and characters, but I'm glad you mostly enjoyed those too. TJ sounds adorable, hih. Thank you for sharing your honest review. <3 :)

  7. I haven't had a chance to read this yet, but it's high on my list. And Then There Were None is such a wonderful book. I'm glad it seems to live up to the creep factor!

  8. I read the original And Then There Were None for school (definitely the best school read) so I'm tempted to read this. WHY WOULD YOU READ THIS IN THAT SETTING? Although, I can't decide if that's actually smart because then you have the feeeeeling of the book even more. I'll probably celebrate my Halloween with this creeptastic book, some candy, and scaring little kids.

  9. I don't know what it is about scary/creepy books but I somehow love them while I completely abhor scary movies (like I can't handle it AT ALL). This totally intrigues me, I want to read it! More Halloween-y reads to add to my list! =)

  10. Now I didn't really enjoy this one as much as you did, Gillian, but I give McNeil props for pulling out all the stops on the murder parts. I guess because I'm a more seasoned horror fan, this didn't do it for meFor me, Ten wasone step above R.L. Stine but one step under Agatha Christie/Stephen King. I much preferred Christie's And Then There Were None to Ten, but if I were a bit younger, I have a feeling I wouldn't loved this one.

  11. Ten gave me the creeps too!! Those murder scenes were ridiculous creepy awesome! "OtP Gretchen is a blood-spattered madwoman who wields her pen like a butcher knife." I totally agree with you on that.

    I can't wait to read more by her. It has been a while since I have read a really good young adult horror novel and this one did its job.

  12. Have you read And Then There Were None? Because I heard it was reeaaaaaally bad if you've read that. Since she's retelling it, though they didn't publicize that at all that I remember. Apparently she changed the mindbogglingly cool ending into something...not? I don't know.


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