Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Review: Tell Me I'm Worthless by Alison Rumfitt

by Alison Rumfitt
Release Date: January 17, 2023
2023 Tor Nightfire
Kindle Edition; 263 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250866233
Audiobook: B0B1JKM1PL
Genre: Fiction / Horror / LGBT
Source: Review copy from publisher

2 / 5 Stars

Three years ago, Alice spent one night in an abandoned house with her friends, Ila and Hannah. Since then, Alice’s life has spiraled. She lives a haunted existence, selling videos of herself for money, going to parties she hates, drinking herself to sleep.

Memories of that night torment Alice, but when Ila asks her to return to the House, to go past the KEEP OUT sign and over the sick earth where teenagers dare each other to venture, Alice knows she must go.

Together, Alice and Ila must face the horrors that happened there, must pull themselves apart from the inside out, put their differences aside, and try to rescue Hannah, whom the House has chosen to make its own.
My Thoughts
Tell Me I'm Worthless had a very interesting beginning, one that I thought would set up this novel quite nicely, but unfortunately, it went seriously downhill from that point on.  I felt like I was reading an entirely different book; the only reason I kept going was because I wanted to actually find out if the haunted house played a bigger role in this book.
The actual horror stuff was few and far between, and although I get that the haunted house is a symbolism of fear and oppression and how easy it is for those things to control your world, that can also be a metaphor for what happened in this book.  I admire and respect the author for trying to use horror, in the shape of a haunted house and the events that occurred there, as a way to show oppression in a different light, but I feel like it got away from them and instead of a good story became more of a series of weird rants that made the story disjointed.   The messages/themes within the book become confusing because these rants are also confusing, dealing with things such as fascism and so on, trying to push their own political beliefs on the reader, something I wasn't having any part of. As someone who can think for herself, I would rather the ideas be there so I can think about them and form my own conclusions.  In some ways, it can feel demeaning, as if a reader can't think for themselves.  
The characters themselves were pretty one-dimensional and by the end of the book, I didn't feel like any of them had shown any growth.  Unfortunately, the political aspects of this book took away from the overall potential of character development.  If you took out a lot of those rants, this book would read really well as a short story; I thought the part with Hannah, in particular, in the haunted house was superbly done, despite the political tone to it, although I still feel like the author tends to give too much to the reader rather than let them figure things out on their own.     

Tell Me I'm Worthless suffers from some editing issues as well as marketing issues. Touted as a haunted house novel, I went in expecting that and what I got was a political novel using haunted house metaphor to explore political beliefs. Normally, this wouldn't be an issue as I don't typically mind that, but it's the direct writing/ranting that turned me off this story as I don't feel it contributed much in terms of plot or character development, but served more to explore the author's personal political views/angst. Yes, the message is important, but so is the delivery, and the delivery turned me right off this book.


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