Review: Near the Bone by Christina Henry (Spoiler-Alert)
Well, this wasn't what I was expecting. I was very tempted by those final 70 pages or so to tack on an extra 0.5 stars, but the more I've thought about it, the more I found problems with this story. Don't get me wrong, the second half was really great, definitely 4.5 star worthy in how gripping it was, but overall a lot about this book I would have done differently, so I'm settling on a 4 star rating.
As I said, this book was not what I was expecting. The synopsis is very misleading, and I've seen many other reviewers say the same thing. This is not a story of a monster and a suspicious husband. This is a story of an insane man and his abductee. That is not a spoiler, and I swear it. It is made obvious from the first chapter that this is the situation, and the first half of the book focuses on this alone basically. There are some inklings of the monster, but the vast majority is Mattie's mental deconstruction. I found this section a bit repetitive, but well done, except for the fact that because of how obvious the situation was, I was anticipating some sort of twist that never came.
The latter half of the story is much more exciting and reads like a true thriller, but I still had some issues with it. I found that the writing in this story was very visible—like a lot of the plot points stood out to me as incredibly convenient or obviously done to get rid of problems the author didn't know how to handle. For example, when Mattie happened to find William at the exact moment that he was talking to the three strangers. Also when Griffin passed out and they couldn't move him so the monster just took him away so that the rest of them could move on without having to find a way to carry him.
I also felt like a lot of the characters' decisions in this book were CRAZY, and again might have just been used to advance the plot. There were also some missed opportunities. Like why did William just sit at the front door when he could have easily shot through the windows? Or why didn't he use the axe left outside the door to break in?? Also how did C.P. and Mattie just SLEEP WHILE A MONSTER AND PSYCHO MURDERER WAS OUTSIDE??? WHY DID THEY NOT TAKE SHIFTS??? AND THEY MADE GRILLED CHEESE AFTER THE MONSTER THREW A HUMAN HEART INTO THE WINDOW??
The other thing I took issue with in Near the Bone is the loose ends. The Heather stuff I can stand—there were a few inklings of answers there. But the monster... I wanted more. I thought it, and maybe even the strangers, would be metaphorical but they weren't. I don't mind an ambiguous ending, but I do want a sense of meaning if there is no explanation. This book didn't quite hit where I think it could have in that department.
Overall though, this book was entertaining and I honestly would recommend it—a lot of people wouldn't have the same issues with it that I did. I am very excited to read more of Christina Henry's work in the future, especially The Girl In Red which I've heard great things about!
book one- near the bone
book two- five total strangers
book three- a house at the bottom of a lake
book four- the grownup