Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Book Review: Gated by Matt Drabble

British couple Michael and Emily Torrence lived perfect lives. He was a writer of horror fiction getting paid for his hobby, and Emily was immersed in her life as a teacher. Their world was complete when Emily became pregnant, because their child would make them a family. Their dreams, however, were shattered one wet winter night by a car mounting a pavement out of the darkness.

To overcome their loss, they pick up and move to Eden Gardens, a U.S. gated community that offers "Heaven on Earth and Twice as Nice." The people are warm and friendly and welcome them with open arms. The town is a beautiful throwback to a bygone age, where the sun always shines and the sky's always blue.

As they settle into their new, perfect lives, the circle is complete when Emily falls pregnant again. The town is perfect, the weather is perfect, and their lives are perfect. But are the stares from their neighbours a little too intense, is the town a little too interested in their happy news, and is Eden all that it seems?

They are about to find out that paradise comes at a cost, and when you sign a lease, you should always check the fine print.

My Review:
The first thing I noticed about this book was the constant references to Stephen King-The Shining. Character names are taken from the story plus the book and film are mentioned several times in the opening part of this book. I took that to be a bad sign as it is not a book that I enjoyed. However, references to a book/film I didn't like would not affect me continuing to read, and of course, does not change my overall rating of this book as that would be seriously petty.

So why didn't I like this one? One reason, pure and simple-far too slow for me. It seemed to take ages to get into the main point of the story. We had the tragic family history, the long car journey, the arrival, the settling in at their new home and meeting the new people. I just didn't feel that we were getting to the 'gated' part of things anytime soon. After a quarter of the book, nothing of any note had happened and I just started to lose interest.

The interlude I read reminded me of another Stephen King book-IT. That is my favourite ever book on the planet and I love it. In that book, the interludes are the grubby history of Derry and it works so well in showing the evil in the town in the past, while you are with the characters battling it in two different periods of time. It helped to blend the whole book together. In this book, I didn't feel that it worked. I don't know if there was more than one interlude but the one I read was plonked right in the middle of the scene setting introduction to this new home and it didn't really add anything to the story. I feel it was something else that just slowed things down.

The book just didn't work for me. There was nothing wrong with the writing or any aspect of the author's work-it was just too slow for my personal tastes. I feel that this reminded me in a way of Stephen King fan fiction and I don't mean that in a nasty way. I don't find anything wrong with fan fiction or writing books that are a sort of salute to a favourite author or book. It just wasn't what I was expecting or looking for after reading previous work by the author and it wasn't really my kind of thing.

Plenty of people with more patience than me will probably enjoy this book and be amused by the Stephen King references, so don't let me put you off if you planned to read this. I have enjoyed other work by this author and he is a good storyteller.
star rating photo: Two Star Rating 2stars.png

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