Monday, January 17, 2011

You Killed Wesley Payne by Beaudoin

Product Description
He's come to do a job.
A job that involves a body.
A body wrapped in duct tape found hanging from the goal posts at the end of the football field.

You Killed Wesley Payne is a truly original and darkly hilarious update of classic pulp-noir, in which hard-boiled seventeen year-old Dalton Rev transfers to the mean hallways of Salt River High to take on the toughest case of his life. The question isn't whether Dalton's going to get paid. He always gets paid. Or whether he's gonna get the girl. He always (sometimes) gets the girl. The real question is whether Dalton Rev can outwit crooked cops and killer cliques in time to solve the mystery of "The Body" before it solves him.

Sean Beaudoin (Going Nowhere Faster, Fade to Blue) evokes the distinctive voices of legendary crime/noir authors Dashiell Hammett and Jim Thompson with a little bit of Mean Girls and Heathers throwin in for good measure. It'll tease you, please you, and never ever leave you. Actually, that's not true. It's only a book. One that's going to suck you in, spit you out, and make you shake hands with the devil. Probably.

Ok, I give up. I’m throwing in the towel. As my husband and most people who know me will attest, it is a very rare occurrence for me to not be able to finish a book.  I received an ARC of this book back in early December and I’ve been struggling with it every since.  Perhaps it’s because I’m not a teen (but I read and enjoy quite a bit of young adult/teen novels without any problem.) Maybe I’m just not the right person for this book. 

I couldn’t figure out what the author intended with this book. Was a futuristic story with a throwback to the vintage pulp noir? Was a cynical commentary on teens and how high schools operate? I don’t know. I do know that the book gave me a headache every time I tried to read it. I did like that Beadoin included a chart/index with descriptions of all the different cliques, but I hated that I had to keep referring to it and still could not keep everything straight.

I really wanted to like this book. I thought it was going to be a wonderful teen mystery (I love mysteries and did I mention I really like young adult/teen novels?).  But I can’t fight it any more. The truth is I dislike the book so much I can’t finish it. I found the writing to be disjointed and confusing. And horror of horrors, I couldn’t find one character I remotely liked.

In the interest of fairness, I am hoping to find a teen that will read the book and give me their take on it. It’s possible that as an adult I just don’t get it.  If I do, I’ll ask them to provide a guest review.

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