04 December 2012

Book Review: Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Title: Ten
Author(s): Gretchen McNeil
Genre(s): Horror, Mystery, Young Adult
Publisher/Date: Balzer + Bray / September 18, 2012
Series: Stand Alone

"Vengeance is mine; I will repay.
For the time when their foot shall slide.
For the day of their disaster is near.
And their doom comes swiftly."

Case Study
I’m sorry, but if the most popular girl in school invites you to a super exclusive party at her vacation home on a private island, you don’t say no. This is the position in which Meg and her BFF, Minnie, find themselves. Meg’s mega-crush, TJ, and his hot friend, Ben, are even amongst the guests! A raging party and a potentially steamy weekend without parents—what’s a girl to do? Though their hostess’ arrival is delayed, the party is off to a great start. Minnie and Ben hit it off, leaving Meg to grapple with her hidden feelings for TJ. That is, until the weekend takes a turn for the sinister and a girl mysteriously winds up dead. It appears somebody is on a quest for revenge and all of the guests are targets. Meg makes it her mission to find out if anyone else is lurking on the island or if the killer is one of their own. Can she solve the mystery in time or will she herself become a victim in this deadly game?

The Game’s Afoot
I initially picked up Ten because of all its rave reviews. When people compared it to 90’s slasher films and the works of R.L. Stine, c’mon! I can’t resist that! It’s got Nikki-bait written all over it! Because let’s be honest, murder and mayhem make me tingly all over. But excited as I was, I still had some reservations going in. Ten is loosely based off of the classic mystery novel, And Then There Were None, and I absolutely adored both the book and its movie incarnate. See, the problem is that it’s really hard to live up to the high standards set by the queen of mystery and intrigue, Ms. Agatha Christie. Virtually impossible, if you ask me. I guess I just wanted to like the book more than I actually did. Now that’s not to say Ten wasn’t entertaining but it wasn’t as bold or scary as I initially hoped either.

Perhaps I just suffer from the curse of unmet expectations or maybe it’s because the book skewed a little too young for me, I’m not really sure, but by the end I was kind of done with it. For starters, I had issues with mixing up the two main gals, Meg and Minnie. I often had to flip back several pages just to figure out who was who. As for the other teens, they were thinly veiled characterizations of your typical high school cliques—your popular kids, do-gooders, stoners, jocks and techie types. Honestly, I didn’t really connect with any of them so when they were killed off one by one, it didn’t faze me. Ten kind of reminded me of those really bad slasher flicks where you want to scream at the person on screen because they’re doing that REALLY STUPID thing that’ll obviously get them killed. I really do think I yelled “DON’T GO IN THERE, YOU IDIOT!” and “WHY ARE YOU SPLITTING UP!? DON’T YOU HAVE ANY SELF PRESERVATION AT ALL?!” Yeah, come to think of it, I definitely yelled that one pretty frequently.

But though I had my issues with Ten, the story was short and fast-paced enough to keep me engaged. And yeah, the characters were generalized but it made me sort of feel like I was back in high school again. It was easy to get lost in the trivial drama that plagues our teen years, and honestly, I kind of dug that about this book. McNeil also did a decent job at masking the killer’s identity, though I was able to figure it out a few chapters before the intended reveal. Ten did also have its creepier, on-edge moments that made me want to flick on the light and cuddle up to my dog for safety purposes, but overall, for this horror-junkie, it wasn't enough. I do think Ten will be more effective with a less-horror-enthused, younger audience so I will totally be recommending it to my younger siblings and their hormone-driven friends.

Summary Prognosis
All in all, Ten wasn’t quite as good as I hoped it would be. Fast-paced and entertaining, it certainly had that creep-factor that makes it a good choice for a younger crowd and those who are looking for an easy shudder. Though it’s a good book to get you into the Halloween spirit, if you’re looking for something that packs more of a punch, I recommend reading or watching the original, And Then There Were None.

Rating: ★★★

Read It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Discuss It: Goodreads | Author's Website


  1. sorry it dissapointed, the premise sounds good, but it does seem like its best for the younger crowd then. lol about "Honestly, I didn’t really connect with any of them so when they were killed off one by one, it didn’t faze me." This happens to me all the time with cheesey horror type films.

    1. Exactly, although strangely, I have an easier time with cheesy horror flicks than I did with this book. I think I just compared it way too much to its sophisticated Agatha Christie counterpart. Oh well. It had entertainment value, so I'm okay with that much at least.

  2. I'm completely with you on every single point. It could have been so much better....if it had been marketed as a B-Grade slasher piss-take I wouldn't have been so disappointed.

    I love a good cliche, but only when it's done well.

    Great review though ;-)

    1. TOTALLY, Kat! McNeil ought to no better than to go head-to-head with Agatha Christie. I mean, c'mon, she didn't stand a chance. Ah, well.


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