Friday, February 16, 2018

ARC Review: A Guide for Murdered Children By Sarah Sparrow

A Guide for Murdered Children by Sarah Sparrow
Publisher: Blue Rider Press
Release Date: March 20th, 2018
Format: egalley
Source: Netgalley*
My Rating: 

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD

We all say there is no justice in this world. But what if there really was? What if the souls of murdered children were able to return briefly to this world, inhabit adult bodies and wreak ultimate revenge on the monsters who had killed them, stolen their lives?

Such is the unfathomable mystery confronting ex-NYPD detective Willow Wylde, fresh out of rehab and finally able to find a job running a Cold Case squad in suburban Detroit. When the two rookie cops assigned to him take an obsessive interest in a decades old disappearance of a brother and sister, Willow begins to suspect something out of the ordinary is afoot. And when he uncovers a series of church basement AA-type meetings made up of the slain innocents, a new way of looking at life, death, murder and missed opportunities is revealed to him.

Mystical, harrowing and ultimately tremendously moving, A Guide for Murdered Children is a genre-busting, mind-bending twist on the fine line between the ordinary and the extraordinary.
This is a book that was just not for me. I also think this is the book that made me realize that I should just DNF books instead of forcing myself to read things I don’t enjoy. I hate when I dislike a book and writing negative book reviews is not something I like to do. I also would like to preface this review with the fact that I received an early advanced reader’s copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review back in August. I put it in the back of my piles in the fall due to the pub date not being until March, and then when I picked it back up in December I just couldn’t get into. So unfortunately, for me, this book was a huge miss.

I love true crime and I love weird scifi/fantasy things so when I read the summary of this book I thought I would love it! But, I have a really hard time with books when I don’t connect with the main character. Willow, our ex-cop addict “hero” could not have been more unlikeable if Sparrow tried. I could not stand him and I wondered if we as readers were supposed to like this guy. It was a little unclear. I can forgive a lot in books if I really connect with a character, but with this book I just couldn’t stand Willow and some of the thoughts that pop into his head. There’s a line in the book where he is staying in his daughter’s attic after his stint it rehab and he says, “He was feeling like Anne Frank up there.” Granted I read an advanced reader copy, so maybe a wise editor cut this out in the final, but that line really bothered me! It wasn’t the first or last instance of some random throw away line that I found offensive. Much earlier in the book the “R” word was used to describe a mentally challenged child, which I really do not like. Later in the book when Willow is talking with one of his friends from rehab he says, “She was a dyke but he’d know many in his time who experienced the phenomenon of SDC—Sudden Dick Craving” WTF!!There are a lot of things about Willow that just really rubbed me the wrong way.

The plot of this novel is interesting but I think the execution makes it flawed. The concept that murdered children get a second-chance at life so they can hunt down their killers and bring them to justice is interesting, but it’s never explained how this works. The characters themselves even talk in circles about how they don’t know how they are supposed to reach their “moment of balance”. The Guides they are given essentially say, “don’t ask questions, just trust” and it makes it feels like that is what the author is asking readers to do too. I was also uncomfortable with the idea that children are in adult bodies and some are still being intimate with partners. That just put a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I decided to finish this novel because once they got into investigating the murder of Maya and Troy Rummer that was interesting to me, and I wanted to see if they would figure it out and bring their killer to justice. But that happened about 40% into the book, so I feel like there was a ton that could have been cut out of this story. When you do find out the killer, he seems to go on this really clique waxing poetic soliloquy, it was almost cartoonish to the point that I had lost my faith in the writing. There was a lot that could have been cut off, even a lot of the stuff with Honeychile. She seems really build up as an important main character and she is for a while, but at the end her character just seemed flat to me.

I really did not enjoy reading this book. I think the concept was interesting, but overall the execution just fell very flat. I wonder if a lot of the things I mentioned had been ironed out in a later draft. I would be interested to hear how other people feel about this one.

*I received a free egalley copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Happy Reads Everyone!