Friday, November 4, 2011

Book #4: Circle 9 by Anne Heltzel

When your whole life has vanished and only one person knows who you are . . . don’t you have to believe him?

Abby doesn’t remember what happened the night she woke up in soot-stained clothes, lying next to a burning building with an unfamiliar boy at her side. But her connection with Sam is immediate and intense. And she has no one else: no family, no home, not even a last name.

She and Sam start a new life, just the two of them, and Abby’s deliriously happy. Until memories from her past begin to haunt her—and suddenly everything she’s learned to love turns sinister. It’s only a matter of time before her reality cracks apart.

I liked the style of writing at the opening, being right there with Abby as she discovers her circumstance and struggles to learn why her life is the way it is. I had the same questions as her and was willing to believe her answers, to believe Sam. Soon, I started to distance myself from her thoughts and explanations as I suspect was intended. A few steps ahead of our fragile heroine, the reader begins to look with suspicion at the same life Abby looks at with the innocence of a trusting child. Is Sam lying? What is the real cause of him being sick? Is the world outside really so horrid? At times I felt as though I were twinned with Abby, seeing what she saw, feeling her emotions and unable to make her hear my questioning and warnings. I felt excitement every time she started to see beyond the veil and worry when she slipped back to her own world.

I went into this book blind, not having read any synopsis, review or even the book jacket. I am glad that I did as it enhanced the experience of what Abby was going through. I did not know what to expect nor what others may have thought. Knowing now that the description spoke of sexual abuse and drug use, I was glad to discover these plot lines along with Abby and Sam rather than having a checklist to follow.

I think what has stuck with me most after closing the cover, what niggles in the back of my mind, is Abby’s perception of who and what is safe in the world and how dangerous it can be to not see the other reality that surrounds her. The idea that what you see and what makes you feel safe is an illusion is a fitting one for this time of the year where every horror movie has a sliver of that idea in the plot. The ability of the mind to weave, twist and block what the senses show is wondrous and terrifying. The question is left: Is the world around you the same as the one you see?

I am at a bit of a crossroads when deciding if I liked this book or not. The fact that I have to make the decision suggests that I did not. I believe that it is a book that was well written and compelling and challenging enough to the reader to be a good book and a worthy read. But I am still not convinced that I actually liked it. I feel as though I am looking at a piece of art. I can appreciate it technically, and can understand the depth of it, the creativeness and the beauty in it. But I do not want it on my walls. I don’t really like it. I am glad to have seen it and would be slightly less for not having seen it, or in this case, read it. I read it, closed the cover and went on with my day. That all night and first thing the next morning and intermittently throughout the day I was still going over parts of the story tells me that Circle 9 had meaning to me as a reader, and in my book, that makes it a success.

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