Friday, September 07, 2012

The Night Strangers

I made the mistake of going to Barnes and Noble the other day.  "I'm just going to browse," I told myself.  "Just going to get an idea of the books I want to read so that I can borrow them from the library," I said.

Yeah, it didn't go so well. 

First of all, I spend WAY too much time in bookstores.  I definitely DO judge a book by its cover (and its title, if I'm being honest), and have a hard time leaving books on the shelves once I become attached.

In the end, it wasn't really all that bad.  I bought a novel and two logic puzzle books.  I lurve logic puzzles.  LURVE.

I also purchased The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian.  Mainly because of the description, but also because of the cover.  I thought that it was scary.

Half original story and half derivative bullshit, Strangers had a bit of a hook, I guess: the protagonist,  Chip Linton, was a pilot forced to land a commercial plane on Lake Champlain after hitting a flock of birds shortly after takeoff.   If this sounds familiar, it is, and Bohjalian makes no secret of this.  He even names Captain Sullenberger by name and references the Miracle on the Hudson more than a few times.  That miracle was everything that his landing was not.  Captain Sully not only maneuvered the plane perfectly, but the conditions of the water, the speed of the wind, and the angle at which he touched down were also perfect.  Everyone survived.  

Chip was not so lucky, however, and thirty-nine people died on his plane.

The family needs a new start, clearly, and they relocate to upstate New York.

The new townspeople are strange.  They all have greenhouses.  They call themselves "herbalists."  They are all completely enraptured that the Lintons has twin daughters and are deliriously obsessed with them.  "Did you see the twins?" they constantly ask each other.  And also, "OMFG!!!!!1!!!! TWINS!"

Also, in case I haven't mentioned it, there are twins and they are clearly important.  Incredibly important.  Nefariously important.  


Once the Lintons settle - in a house that wouldn't sell, by the way, due to UNFORTUNATE INCIDENTS IN THE PAST - they attempt to rebuild their lives.  Emily easily finds a job in a family law firm, the girls start school, and Chip?  Well, Chip starts seeing and hearing ghosts in the house.

And when he discovers a small door in the unfinished basement - a door bolted shut with thirty-nine railroad ties - things really begin to unravel.

What bothered me about the book is that the "villains" are pretty obvious from the get-go.  There's also a level of comfort between the herbalists that is just a little off.  Just a little too comfortable.  Those things alone were huge white flags, but what really bummed me out was that the story just felt lazy.  

There were a few good moments, and the twins (TWINS?!??!) were very well written and their characters were nicely developed.  

That said, this was the first book I read by Bohjalian.  I don't know that it has inspired me to read another.

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