Saturday, July 18, 2009

Book Review: Feathered by Laura Kasischke

Two best friends fly down to Cancun for spring break with a third girl from their high school, hoping for a few days of fun in the sun, far away from the sleet, sameness and rules of Illinois. But a couple of bad decisions later, they are facing down their worst nightmare.

I can imagine the genesis of this novel thusly: Author goes to Mexico’s Yucatan to visit the Mayan ruins and is annoyed by crass commercialization and mindless, drunken hordes of sun-seeking partygoers. She then decides to write a novel that will highlight the importance of respecting local culture and the dangers of a) spring break and b) trusting strangers.

(I’ve not been to Mexico, but I have been to the Guatemalan Yucatan to visit Tikal. I can’t imagine why anyone would chose empty partying over experiencing the beauty of “rediscovering” lost cultures. But obviously they do.)

And the novel does work well on that level. There’s a definite sense of foreboding that grows stronger as you read. And the scenes at the Mayan temple are riveting, informative and poetic.

The structure is odd. Chapters alternate between Anne’s very plain character telling us in first person, past tense, unadorned prose what went down on the fateful trip and chapters about Michelle’s experiences told in third person omniscient, present tense in hazy, magical realism infused passages. All this leads to one of the most bizarre endings I’ve read in awhile.

If you’re looking for something different, this is a quick yet memorable read that will have you thinking twice before you accept a ride from a stranger in the middle of nowhere.

20 comments:

Diana Dang said...

Curious on what happened in the story : O

bermudaonion said...

You've got me really curious about the ending now.

Kelly @ The Novel Bookworm said...

Okay...now I'm curious, I may have to pick this one up! Great review!

Melanie said...

You've got me curious about the ending too! I really like the cover of this book. I'll have to look into it.

kalea_kane said...

I WANT to know more! I guess I better look for this one! :)Thanks for the review!

PJ Hoover said...

This review certainly does make me curious. Probably curious enough to check it out.

~Mary said...

I've been to the Mayan ruins...this looks like a good read!

Jen said...

Hm, I'm really curious. Where does the cover and title factor in?

Sara said...

Creepy. Sounds like a horror movie scenario.

Sara said...

Creepy. Sounds like a horror movie scenario.

Staci said...

This one sounds strange overall...not sure if I'll look out for it or not but you do have me curious!!

Beth F said...

Humm I'm not sure -- you have me curious about the ending, but I'm not sure it's my kind of book.

Lenore said...

Wow - everyone is so curious ;)

Jen - the feather on the cover is integral to the plot and has to do with Mayan mysticism.

Sara - It's not horror in the way THE RUINS or Stephen King is horror. It's more like the way the Natalie Holloway disapearance is horror.

Anna said...

Hmm...now I really want to know what happened. Thanks for bringing this one to my attention.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Alyce said...

The cover is beautiful, but the plot and structure sound a little unusual.

Mishel said...

Ride from stranger? Yeah no thanks...especially in a foreign country. No one uses their heads anymore.

The book sounds like..."an experience" =)

Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said...

I've seen this one mentioned but it had never really caught my attention until your review!

Carol(ina) said...

Hmm...now I want to pick the book up to find out how it ends.

Joanne said...

Okay I am now needing to read this! It sounds so weird, but in a good way.

I still don't understand the whole "Spring Break" thing - seems like a lame excuse to get trashed and do stupid things.

Zibilee said...

Your review initially had me thinking this book was akin to The Ruins, but I see you say they weren't the same. I am thinking about putting this one on my wish list, because it sounds like it had some interestingly different writing and I'm a sucker for a weird ending. Thanks!