Monday, August 5, 2013

Review: Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet

I haven't read any book recently that I can recall that has as many seriously messed up people as this one does. Patrick, Layla, Mike, Caro, and Verna all live in the small town of Ratchetsburg, PA. Their lives intersect because of another even worse pscyho. Enough about that.

Save Yourself begins with recounting the circumstances of Patrick's life. The son of a murderer. His father killed a boy while driving drunk. The town won't let Patrick forget that he and his brother Mike, need to pay for not reporting the crime sooner. The religious zealots, I mean parents of the dead Czerpak boy, want them to pay with everything physical that they have. Not only are his problems stemming from his father going to maybe leave him homeless, he's got quite crush on his brother's girlfriend, Caro. While on shift at Zoney's, a 7-Eleven type place, Patrick meets Layla.

Layla was once a semi-normal teenager, with the overbearing, religious phanatical parents. We meet her as the coffin ring wearing, totally gothed out 17 year old who is drawn to Patrick for some reason. Maybe she feels sorry for him, or maybe she just wants to piss off Daddy. She's abandoned her life as a bible-toting nut for practices in sadism, masochism, and any other crazy -ism there is. Her younger sister Verna seems to be following that path.

No longer interested in being called Venereal or bullied at school, the last hope of Layla's parents, Verna, begins to search for truth and understanding in places beyond her Bible. She slowly tries to transform into a person that is better equipped at handling the teasing and bad behavior from classmates. She looks to her sister's newfound independence and group of friends in an effort to save herself.

These people all are searching for something, although they aren't quite sure what it is. We readers only know that they are all stuck in a rut and no one quite knows what to do to get themselves out. The sister's think they found their answer in a group of people that claim to have the answers to enlightenment. Kelly Braffet does a great job at making this novel dark from the beginning to the end. There's always some sense of tension. I will admit to being quite bored with the middle of the book. I didn't know where this was leading or what the purpose of the book was. All the characters seem so unstable that the plots plateau could be supplied by any of them. I was very shocked by the ending but wondered for the whole time does no one have a cell phone.

Essentially, I'd be interested in reading more by Kelly Braffet. This is my introduction to her writing and it's all right. The plot is intelligent and the characters more than interesting. There's depth to all the characters introduced with no unnecessary characters coming in just for the sake of making the novel lengthier. Save Yourself is a quick read that I'm sure fans of dark fiction will enjoy.  ****

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