Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Dismantled" by Jennifer McMahon

Ten years ago, a group of art students found themselves "recruited" by Suz Pierce. They became known as the Compassionate Dismantlers, believing that "to understand the nature of a thing, it must be taken apart". They were a type of eco-warrior, and their base was a cabin in the woods of Vermont. At first, things were exciting. The four Dismantlers - Suz, the leader; Henry DeForge; Tess Kahle; and Winnie (so named by Suz, from the bland Val) - took things apart. They challenged each other and the world, leaving behind their mark "DISMANTLEMENT = FREEDOM" everywhere. But by the end of the summer, a tragedy occurs, leaving them devastated. And leaving them with a huge secret, one that must never be spoken of again...

Forward to now, when two of the group receive mysterious postcards. One commits suicide, prompting the other to track down the remaining members to find out who has contacted them. Does someone know what happened all those years ago? Are they trying to blackmail the members? Or are they out for revenge?

It's actually a pretty good book, albeit a bit on the lengthy side. I know - I've read works longer than 432 pages - but this one drug a bit at times. I think it could have benefited from some editing. Overall, I was impressed, as this is my first novel by McMahon. There was a lot going on (thus the very brief and mysterious plot description - just too worried I'll give something away!); most of worked, some didn't. My biggest problem with the book is that most of the characters are not overly likable. Perhaps the most intriguing character is young 9-year-old Emma, who has a friend, Mel, that reminded much of Suz. Emma is very withdrawn, counts in multiples of 9, swims like a fish, and has an imaginary friend, Danner, who may or may not be real. Lots going on with Miss Emma, and that made me want the story to revolve more around her and less around the Dismantlers. Oh well, can't have everything.

I will definitely pick up another work by Jennifer McMahon, and lucky me, her two previous books are also in our library system!

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