Thursday, June 11, 2015

Review: Normal by Graeme Cameron

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I received this book for free from Mira in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Normal by Graeme CameronNormal by Graeme Cameron
Published by Mira on March 31, 2015
Genres: Adult, Psychological Thriller, Thriller
Source: Mira
Buy on Amazon

"The truth is I hurt people. It's what I do. It's all I do. It's all I've ever done."

He lives in your community, in a nice house with a well-tended garden. He shops in your grocery store, bumping shoulders with you and apologizing with a smile. He drives beside you on the highway, politely waving you into the lane ahead of him.

What you don't know is that he has an elaborate cage built into a secret basement under his garage. And the food that he's carefully shopping for is to feed a young woman he's holding there against her will—one in a string of many, unaware of the fate that awaits her.

This is how it's been for a long time. It's normal... and it works. Perfectly.

Then he meets the checkout girl from the 24-hour grocery. And now the plan, the hunts, the room... the others. He doesn't need any of them anymore. He needs only her. But just as he decides to go straight, the police start to close in. He might be able to cover his tracks, except for one small problem—he still has someone trapped in his garage.

Discovering his humanity couldn't have come at a worse time.

A book about a serial killer in the eyes of the serial killer… I know what you’re thinking: the morbidness! The fascinating concept! The potential to show us what it is like on the other side of the fence! The opportunity to give us such a gritty, different, and complex story!

… which boggles the mind: how the hell did this one manage to bore me the frack out?!

Here’s the thing, ladies and gents: when we’re reading a perspective from the other person when it comes to controversial issues, I expect it to be… well, deep, because they shove us an extremely unlikeable person who does extremely unlikeable (read: detestable) things so they can humanize them to a certain extent in order to make us “see” where they are coming from (but not forgive… fuck no) and to see what factors contribute to such social ills. Case-in-point: Tease by Amanda Maciel, which is all about slut-shaming and bullying in the eyes of the bully, shedding light on the elements and societal structures that need to be improved on. These things add to the depth, to the complexity, to the value of discernment and discussion aside from the “edge” these kind of books usually give.

Unfortunately, that was what Normal lacked. It lacked substance. It lacked the internal conflict that would make the hero a “tortured” one (as the summary implies). I mean, I get the nature vs nurture thing it has going on and how people can *~*~*~CHAAAANGE~*~*~* but the whole thing was just ridiculous. We see a serial killer targeting predominantly women and we never really see why he does what he does. The backstory we got was so minimal it didn’t even put a dent on his character development (or devolution). Plus, the emotions just weren’t there… the writing was choppy, flat, and was mostly just describing the environment rather than actually talking to the reader about the serial killer himself and who/what he is and if there are more complex issues than those that are skin deep. 

What a waste of opportunity, honestly. There were so many stuff here that didn’t seem irrelevant, a lot of repetitive ones even, and I seriously don’t need a 10 page description about how the dude “redecorated” a place to frame someone else for murder. If this had more emotion, if the serial killer was more fleshed-out, it could have been enjoyable and maybe even a page-turner. Alas, all I got from it was a yawn and a headache. Not the best combination.


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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14 Responses to “Review: Normal by Graeme Cameron”

  1. Kim@Breath Of Life

    Your take on this book is honest and quit frankly what I look for in reviews. You didn’t just say you didn’t like the book you actually gave me (us) some very relate-able reasons why.

  2. Kelsey

    I wasn’t planning on reading this book but definitely not after your review. It’s not the type of thing I’m into anyway. Sorry it wasn’t very good for you!

  3. Mackenzie

    I’m so disappointed you were disappointed. I looked at the cover, read the description and was like “wow this could be amazing!!”. But I agree with you, if you’re tackling an issue like this, I need to be able to feel for the character. I need to know WHY they do what they do.

  4. Hannah

    Urgh, this sounds like one to skip. I’m finding myself enjoying a lot of crime/mystery/psychological thriller-type fiction lately – and if you’re going to read about screwed up characters, the writing needs to somehow depict the complexities of their psyche, and how they ended up this way – not just gloss over it as described here.

  5. Emma

    This is such a shame that the book did not live up the expectations. From the blurb and the cover it is definitely one I would have picked off the shelf in the bookshop but I don’t think it’s one I will try now. Thanks for the honest review x

  6. Cynthia

    I have to say that I kind of dig books like this. I read You, which was told from the POV of a stalker. There was no remorse or anything with him, but I still loved the book. I love dark and twisty stories like that. I am sorry you didn’t enjoy it more.

  7. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    Super disappointing Faye, after reading YOU by Caroline Kepnes which was fantastic from the eyes of a criminal, it sounds like this one seems to pale in comparison. Definitely the tortured character is easier to relate to and swallow, a shame about the irrelevant information. Lovely review!

  8. Katie @ I Will Write With It

    I have never read a book with this kind of premise (mainly becuase I am a wimp and get really freaky dreams) but I’m always up for trying something new – thanks for such an honest review, if I do take this genre for a spin, this can stay out of it!


  9. Ksenia @ Ksenia's Book Blog

    I haven’t heard about this book before and the blurb eerie remained me of The Collector by John Fowles. You articulated very well all you points and I can see why Normal didn’t work for you. Wonderful review, Faye!

  10. Vane J.

    Your opening paragraph… pretty much what I was thinking. I mean, being inside a psycho’s mind in a book is SUCH an experience… Too bad this wasn’t what you expected. :/

  11. Angie

    It’s like you opened my mouth and pulled the words right out! This book was such a wonderful concept, but the execution left a lot to be desired. I wasn’t able to finish this one.

    Great review.