It took me a while to read this book, and it might take me just as long to figure out what to say about it in the right way. Truth is, there is no right way, because I had a hard time with this novel.
Here I’m reviewing Point Roberts by Alexander Rigby. Spoilers are hidden behind white text, but I feel I’m getting better at avoiding them.
My problem with this story is that somehow I couldn’t feel it. I liked the idea behind this book –a group of people investigating a series of gruesome murders– and I usually enjoy reading mysteries, but I found this one confusing.
The first thing I noticed was the abundance of POV characters. Nothing wrong with that, as long as their voices are unique; Martin is a great example of multiple POVs done well. In this case, while all the backstories were different, the way the characters thought and acted felt oddly similar, and as a consequence I found it hard to care for them. While speaking of narrators, this is the first time I’ve experienced a switch from a third omniscient narrator to a first person narrator and back. I appreciate the innovation, but it didn’t do anything for me.
Back to the POV characters, they all experienced loss of some kind in the backstory, be it because of the Point Roberts Slayer or simply bad luck. In addiction to that, they were bullied, abused or abandoned in the past, or they were sick. While reading, I couldn’t help but find this hard to believe, just as I found the adoption story quite odd.
I mean, what are the chances that so many people suffered so much in life?
The way the characters were presented made me feel as if I had to like them. I wish the author had shown me why they were likable, why they instantly cared about each other, instead of having them think about how great everyone was. How many people meet and have an instant connection in real life? Not many, I’d say. It felt really weird, and, most importantly, if felt unreal. On the same note, I wish the main characters wouldn’t state over and over again how awful someone –the mayor– was.
Show me, please, don’t force me to take what a character says at face value. Characters’ opinions, as people’s, tend to be subjective and unreliable at times. Don’t make your characters omniscient, it is unfair.
And it makes it hard to suspend disbelief.
Suspension of disbelief, as per The Free Dictionary, means to accept as plausible something one knows to be untrue, especially the setting and plot of a drama or fiction, so as to allow the appreciation of art. In theory, the more dissonances there are in a story, the harder it is for the reader or the viewer to experience it fully. In my case, it is the main issue I have with this book: I had to keep pausing and wonder if what I’d just read could be true in real life. While I’m obviously not talking about the speculative elements, I wish the human interactions had been more lifelike.
On this note, can a law such as not talking about the murders truly be enforced? Isn’t it aganist the First Amendment?
Other things I had to fact-check are the shelf-life of hair dyes (everything expires, sooner or later), the definition of a copycat killer (no murder, no copycat), palette VS palate, and conscious VS conscience. This can count as nitpicking, but I just can’t scroll the feeling that it was too much.
Another important issue I have with this novel is the lack of tension I experienced while reading. This story is about murder. A killer could come back and finish the job they started, and yet I didn’t feel scared for the main characters, not even once. And I’m one to get upset every time I watch The Care Bears Movie –don’t mind me, I’m old–. Hell, I even cried my heart out when Chloe was kidnapped in Beverly Hills Chihuahua.
I stress over things, a lot.
This one? Zilch. No tension whatsoever. I kept wondering why I didn’t feel anything, and I think it was because a lot of significant information, the one that should only be discovered after tension is built, was spoiled by revealing it way before it reached the right person. So, when it finally reached its target, I already knew it and I couldn’t empathize with the character.
While I was reading I also found it hard to understand what was at stake. What was the point of a killer who doesn’t kill? The people investigating the murders were scared they would be killed next, but no attempt whatsoever was ever made. Even when the killer kidnapped Liza and Bianca several days passed before the group found them, and yet nothing had happened to them. It felt as if time had been frozen for the characters offstage.
Other times, what was written didn’t further the plot in any way. The main example for this is the bake-a-cake scene. On this note, are still there people who don’t know the meaning of Billy Idol’s Dancing with Myself? I got a lot of weird vibes from this scene, to the point I wish I hadn’t read it.
This said, was this book all bad? Truth be told, I just think it wasn’t polished enough. The structure is there and the plot is there, but they’re hidden under many elements that made the story less enjoyable for me. All things considered, I’d rate this novel 3/10.