I didn't stop giving hand jobs because I wasn't good at it.
I stopped giving hand jobs because I was the best at it.
Pages: 80 (Roughly, anyway, depending on your edition.)
Chapters: Doesn't have any
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Book Links: Goodreads
First off: Merry Christmas! (Happy Holidays!) I know, it's belated, but I hope everyone had a great day. And if I don't update on the 31st or the 1st, Happy New Year! I'm usually not one of those people who have a serious list of resolutions for a new year, but 2016 is going to be my bitch! (Pardon my language...)
With the tagline up top, you're probably wondering what the hell this book is about, right? If you've read Gillian Flynn before then you won't have flinched, if you haven't... Why haven't you? Where have you been? Do dark thrillers with dark characters and dark darkness not do it for you? If they don't, good, I'm probably on a one-way ride to hell...
Back on topic. The Grownup is an interesting little short that for the most part works well. Flynn's flair for gritty reality and morally grey characters is present and the supernatural feel is a nice accompaniment. This ghost story was officially released in George R. R. Martin's Rogues anthology under the title What Do You Do?, but I'm glad it got its own little release.
Synopsis (This time round, I'll be using the blurb that comes with my edition of the book.)
A canny young woman is struggling to survive by perpetrating various levels of mostly harmless fraud. On a rainy April morning, she is reading auras at Spiritual Palms when Susan Burke walks in. A keen observer of human behaviour, our unnamed narrator immediately diagnoses beautiful, rich Susan as an unhappy woman eager to give her lovely life a drama injection. However, when the "psychic" visits the eerie Victorian home that has been the source of Susan's terror and grief, she realises she may not have to pretend to believe in ghosts anymore. Miles, Susan's teenage stepson, doesn't help matters with his disturbing manner and grisly imagination. The three are soon locked in a chilling battle to discover where the evil truly lurks and what, if anything, can be done to escape it.
Plot - 4/5 Stars
The Grownup is a great ghost story, even if we don't really get any ghosts. It's solid and creepy and everything a short story with thriller and horror elements should be. Seen the film Insidious? Those are the kind of vibes I get, and Flynn's style pairs with it well. In the beginning we get to know an unnamed woman (she's never named throughout) working as a psychic who does part-time 'customer service' work (hence the tagline at the top, our main is great with her hands...).
We then move to our protagonist's dealings with Susan Burke, who believes she's being haunted. And she very well could be. With some amazingly tense and suspenseful moments, Flynn crafts the perfect tone into a traditional story. The ambiguity eats away at the reader's resolve, if they have any. There are so many lines of crazy that you've no idea what's real and what's not.
And it's the end that lets it down... The one thing I love about mysteries and ambiguity is answers, and answers we do not get. Flynn leaves us guessing with a couple of streamlined threads that might be the truth, and while that does have the reader screaming with unresolved anticipation, it doesn't offer much satisfaction.
Pace - 5/5 Stars
It's a short story under 100 pages; with all the well-written pieces involved, you'll make your way to the end in no time.
Characters - 4/5 Stars
Our nameless main character is the perfect narrator. In such a short space of time Flynn gives us a riveting history and an in-depth personality. The protagonist is complex and subject to your opinion, but I can't help but love and root for her. She's smart and ambitious, but finds herself stuck in a rut thanks to her lack of 'traditional education'. She's open and unapologetic, but street-smart and fun.
Miles, Susan Burke's stepson, is also appealing, in a darker and more twisted kind of way. Kids are always creepy in horror, and the author nails Miles's malevolent and disturbed nature without having him say a word.
The rest of the cast just fill their roles.
Writing - 5/5 Stars
Flynn has crafted a wonderful atmosphere and manages to instill dark feelings with ease within the reader. Her protagonist helps the pace flow smoothly, and if it weren't for the disappointing end, The Grownup would have a solid 5/5.
Overall - 4/5 Stars
I definitely want more, so I wouldn't say no to another short to finish off the story, or maybe even an expanded novel.
For more Gillian Flynn reviews: Index
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