Thursday, September 15, 2011

Review: The Sixes by Kate White

The Sixes
by Kate White
Release Date: August 2nd, 2011
2011 Harper
Softcover Edition; 384 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-157662-1
Genre: Fiction / Suspense
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

3 / 5 Stars

Phoebe Hall's Manhattan life is unexpectedly derailed off the fast track when her long-term boyfriend leaves her just as she is accused of plagiarizing her latest best-selling celebrity biography.  Looking for a quiet place to pick up the pieces, Phoebe jumps at the offer to teach in a sleepy Pennsylvania town at a small private college run by her former boarding school roommate and close friend, Glenda Johns.

But behind the campus's quite cafes and looming maple trees lie evil happenings.  The body of a coed washes up from the nearby river, and soon hidden secrets begin to surface among the students: rumors of past crimes and abuses wrought by a disturbing society know as The Sixes.

Determined to find answers and help Glenda, Phoebe embarks on a search for clues - a quest that soon raises dark memories of her boarding school days.  But with truth comes a deeply terrifying revelation:  the past can't be outrun...and starting over can be a crime punishable by death.

My Thoughts
The Sixes had a unique concept that I was eagerly anticipating, a group of girls empowering themselves and bringing fear to many others on campus, and I was looking forward to reading something that would be fearful and terrifying and could possibly happen on school campuses across the country.  Unfortunately I was somewhat disappointed with this novel, and while the novel did take some steps in the exploration of female empowerment and girl groups, I really felt it did not do them justice.  While there were some twists and turns as well as some interesting moments, I could not truly say that I was engaged throughout this novel.

The novel is entertaining and the writing is interesting, but the plot is predictable and formulaic.  I had no trouble figuring out what was coming next, nor did I have difficulty figuring out who was the murderer.  That is not to say there are not twists and turns in this novel as there was one twist that definitely caught me by surprise, and which I didn't see coming, and I really wished the entire novel had that moment of brilliancy as it would have been great.  There were many storylines woven around the central storyline, but the one involving the Sixes kind of got mired down amongst some of the other plotlines and was not fully developped.  I didn't find the group of girls to be particularly scary or fearsome, and some of their actions reminded me of children's pranks rather than actions of those of an organized, powerful group.  Spoons in a dishwasher?  Considering some of the other things that Phoebe managed to do, I find it interesting that she was scared of spoons in her dishwasher. 

One of the things I did like in this novel was the main character, Phoebe Hall.  I liked her determination and doggedness throughout everything and how she pursued all the leads and wouldn't quit.  My only concern was her lack of suspiciousness when those around her didn't want to call in the police to investigate when her house was broken into, and I couldn't quite figure out why.  I also had a problem with the fact the author gave us so little to work with when it came to her background; it was hard to figure out Phoebe's motivations and desires.  There were some use of flashbacks into Phoebe's boarding school days, but they were abrupt and inconsistent and I don't really feel like they were useful to the story.  It was this vagueness sometimes that really drove me crazy, and while some of the plotlines wrapped up nicely, some were left loosely hanging, some involving characters, and it really did bother me.  I found that sometimes events got so bogged down by details that character development was somewhat neglected, and other than Phoebe, I really didn't feel any connection with the other characters.  As a result, I felt detached from events; this became stronger towards the end and I felt myself losing interest in the novel and the outcome.

The Sixes was a quick read, and I would recommend it as a good beach read if you are looking for something light.  While there was some suspense and build-up, I have to admit that I felt deceived by the fact that the focus on the novel did not necessarily end up being about the group the Sixes, and that is why I wanted to read the novel in the first place.  Unfortunately, the novel could not keep my full attention and I found the plotlines and characters to be rather shallow and one-dimensional.  I never felt like I understood Phoebe's motivations and desires, and although this may seem picky, I definitely didn't understand how a college could hire a person being accused of plagiarism.   Despite all of this, The Sixes is not that bad of a read, as long as you are not looking for something too insightful or indepth.


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