Age: 24

Pages: 76 / 201; 38%
ISBN: 9781771960540

The Reason for the Reaping: I saw it at the library and the title’s declaration seemed like a promising mantra for a good story. It’s a short story collection so I guess I should say “stories.” We’ll see if the Page of No Return has the same effect when it’s not a novel. Plus, it’s written by a Canadian! Step aside, Margaret Atwood.

As I Lay Summarizing: As page 76 brings us into the fourth story, I will refrain from summarizing all of them. The title story, Bad Things Happen,” was the first story, so that lead-up is missing. The back flap insists these are stories of transition, but I haven’t read enough to decide if that’s the real theme. Make no mistake: bad things indeed happen.

The Line That Killed Me: “Fine, she said. Let’s fall in love” (76).  Death by slightly cliche declarative sentences.

Best Character: Dee

Why [As] You Like It: The subject matter in each story is unique. Berten certainly takes some risks in the plot department, with garbage men, web girls (think about it…), and limousine drivers leading the stories. Throw in some dark nights, some slightly unpredictable character traits and plot turns, and it makes for an interesting collection, to say the least. Who knew collecting garbage could be so dramatic?

Why I’m Gone, Girl: You certainly get a glimpse of Berten as you read these stories, but at the beginning of every story, I find myself scrambling to assume the new character’s POV. I assumed gender incorrectly at least half the time (Ignoring the fact that I should be assuming it at all o.0), and there is really no flexibility in Berten’s writing. It all sounds the same. Each story is different like the houses on a suburban street: slightly different colors, different trees in the yard. AKA Jazz it up, Kris! Don’t be a one trick pony.

Last Line, Last Chance: “…machines on the west side of the city alone, in malls….”

Will I turn the page, or toss it into Mount Doom?

One-trick ponies are for one-trick people. While the individual plots keep it moving, Berten does not have a grasp on each narrator’s distinct voice. I’ll hold out for the Canadian maple syrup.


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