Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Review: Rosebush by Michelle Jaffe

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by Michell Jaffe
Published 2010

Goodreads Summary: Instead of celebrating Memorial Day weekend on the Jersey Shore, Jane is in the hospital surrounded by teddy bears, trying to piece together what happened last night. One minute she was at a party, wearing fairy wings and cuddling with her boyfriend. The next, she was lying near-dead in a rosebush after a hit-and-run. Everyone believes it was an accident, despite the phone threats Jane swears were real. But the truth is a thorny thing. As Jane's boyfriend, friends, and admirers come to visit, more memories surface-not just from the party, but from deeper in her past . . . including the night her best friend Bonnie died.

With nearly everyone in her life a suspect now, Jane must unravel the mystery before her killer attacks again. Along the way, she's forced to examine the consequences of her life choices in this compulsively readable thriller.

It's been a while since I've read a mystery. Mystery isn't my absolute favorite genre, but I do sometimes get in the mood for it. When I do, I prefer the dramatic thriller type to the fluffy comedy type. Rosebush was definitely a dramatic thriller type; twists and turns galore and an ending that surprised me, though it may be obvious to seasoned mystery-lovers.

Jane wakes up in a hospital bed with very limited memories of the night before. She is told that she was hit by a car, but this isn't a normal hit and run; Jane was kneeling in front of the car when it hit her. The book follows Jane's four days in the hospital as she attempts to piece together who tried to kill her and why. 

Jane is not a likeable character. She's a "popular" girl who works very hard to convince herself she has a perfect life. She does everything she can to make her friends happy. She ignores her boyfriend's creepy possessive tendencies to the point where she thinks all their relationship problems are her fault, even if they're not. There were quite a few times I wanted to shake her and tell her to stop being so blind and realize one of her friends tried to kill her. Despite the occasional frustration, Jane grows on me as she begins to wise up and connect the dots. 

Unfortunately, I found many of the secondary characters to be underdeveloped and distracting. I had trouble keeping them all straight. I understand that in order for a book to be an effective mystery there has to be a lot of suspects, but some of them felt excessive. It was distracting when I had to stop and try to remember who these characters were in relation to Jane and the party. 

There was a subplot of Jane's issues with her mom's fiance, which were pretty much only caused by the fact that he isn't her dad. I did not like this subplot and felt like it was only there for the purpose of showing Jane's character development. I think the guy could have been easily cut from the book all together, making things a little easier to keep straight. I also felt like Jane's issues with her mother were kind of randomly thrown in at weird times and were resolved strangely. 

Now, on to what I did like; the writing and the plot/pacing. I could clearly see many of the images in my head, and I was never bored. I always wanted to keep reading, and I really liked how the book was set over a four day in the hospital. I would have quickly lost interest if it had been set over weeks or months. 

The flashbacks revealing pieces of Jane's life before the party were well done; they flowed easily with the plot and never lasted an excessive amount of time. After each one, something new would happen in the present that kept me interested. Jane regains her memory of the party in pieces, Pieces of the party were revealed in increments small enough to advance the plot so I always wanted to keep reading, but never giving too much away at once.

The way the mystery unfolds is straightforward and not confusing, though I'm still slightly unclear as to why the killer wanted Jane dead in the first place.  The ending is a little unbelievable, but most of the book is too. It astounds me that Jane was so blind to a lot that was happening in her life.

Rosebush accomplishes what it is meant to do; be a fast paced and thrilling murder mystery that kept me reading. I really liked it, though I think there could have been fewer secondary characters and more development in the ones left. I didn't like Jane at first, but she grew on me as a character and I was rooting for her by the end. Overall, I'm satisfied with how it ended and who the killer turned out to be. It was a shock to me, but I think it could be easier to figure out for fans of the genre.

3.5/5 Stars!

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