Kill the Next One by Federic Axat (Mulholland Books/Little, Brown, 2016)
Synopsis: An audacious psychological thriller where nothing is what it seems.
Ted McKay had it all: a beautiful wife, two daughters, a high-paying job. But after being diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor he finds himself with a gun to his temple, ready to pull the trigger. Then the doorbell rings.
A stranger makes him a proposition: why not kill two deserving men before dying? The first target is a criminal, and the second is a man with terminal cancer who, like Ted, wants to die. After executing these kills, Ted will become someone else's next target, like a kind of suicidal daisy chain. Ted understands the stranger's logic: it's easier for a victim's family to deal with a murder than with a suicide. However, after killing his targets, Ted's reality begins to unravel. KILL THE NEXT ONE, an immersive psychological thriller from an exciting new voice.
*For 2017, I wanted to create a new system of reviewing books. I find it really hard to rate just based on stars, so I am giving my input based different criteria, all adding up to a score of 100. I want to be more thorough, but also give a sense of the book without giving too much away, yet let other readers know what they are going to expect when they read the book.*
Review: 74 / 100
Story : 23 / 25 – This is a whirlwind of excitement, let me tell you. This is nothing like what you are expecting when you first read it. There are so many more layers to the story than what the description tells you. This story is suspense writing at its finest. The only thing that I can see holding people back from liking the book is (what is supposed to sell the book), the description. I went into this book solely because I thought the description sounded inventive and like nothing I had read before–everything in the description happens within the first fifty pages of the novel. You might be asking: What happens in the other 357 pages???? If I were to tell you then that will ruin the excitement, but I can give you just a few words to go off of: mental hospital, detective investigation, college story, murder, domestic issues, and possums.
Writing : 20 / 25 – I am just going to blame this on the translation. This book has been translated from Spanish, so I am just wondering if some phrases didn't transfer as well as others, but I will talk about that a bit more in the quotability section. The writing is fast paced and easy to catch up with and understand. Federico is a very talented writer and this is his debut American novel, he has crafted two other Spanish novels, but I am looking forward to him polishing his writing up even more, or maybe this is just the translation aspect.
Characters : 10 / 20 – The main characters are so fully realized in the novel, but when saying fully realized, I mean just based on the roles they play in the novel. There was definitely complex characters, like Ted, but then there were so many people that the novel seemed to gloss over. I know that the author had move the story along, but I really want to read a bit more about Holly, his daughters, Ted's mother, Justin, and Mike. I really think that there were so many more missed opportunities for twist and turns that were just sort of brushed off to the side.
Depth : 14 / 15 – Like I was saying, there were a lot of glossed over characters, but for the characters that the reader did get to see multiple sides of, the book was incredibly in-depth and interwoven. All the characters relied on each other and I wasn't able to find very many loose ends to tie up. The depth and thought that went into creating this novel. The author put in his acknowledgements that "this book was not written overnight," and we as the readers can definitely tell.
Quotability : 2 / 10 – I really blame this in translation. I really enjoy quotes that stick out to me, but the novel seemed to be telling the story rather than focusing on the language it was using. (Yes, I love that pretentious stuff.) The language it was using was moving the story along rather than making the reader stop and think over what they just read, the language and quote issue is: that language barrier.
Engagement : 5 / 5 – I was totally engage in the novel. I am the type of person to go on Google Maps when they mention locations and try to find the general areas in which they speak of. This aspect is just really important to me–it may just be my intrigue into true crime and the idea of locations or that I just want the story to feel more than a book, turning it into something real and tangible.