Thursday, July 23, 2009

Guest Review: Ravens

Summary: The Boatwrights just won 318 million dollars in the Georgia State lottery. It's going to be the worst day of their lives.

When Shaw McBride and Romeo Zderko pull up at a convenience store off I-95 in Georgia, their only thought is to fix a leaky tire and be on their way again to Florida-away from their dull Ohio tech-support jobs. But this happens to be the store from which a 318,000,000 million dollar Jackpot ticket has just been sold -- and when a pretty clerk accidentally reveals to Shaw the identity of the winning family, he hatches a ferociously audacious scheme: He and Romeo will squeeze the family for half their prize.

That night, he visits the Boatwright home and takes the family hostage, while Romeo patrols the streets nearby, prepared to murder the Boatwrights' loved ones at any sign of resistance. At first, the family offers none. But Shaw's plot depends on maintaining constant fear-merciless, unfaltering terror-and soon, under the pressure, everyone's sanity begins to unravel . . .

At once frightening, comic, and suspenseful, RAVENS is a wholly original and utterly compelling novel from one of our most talented writers. -- Grand Central Publishing

When I saw that there was going to be a book blog tour for RAVENS by George Dawes Green, both Kathy (aka Bermuda Onion) and I immediately thought that Booking Pap Pap might be game for reading this novel. I called him and read the book description to him, and he said it sounded interesting. Here are his thoughts about RAVENS:

Writing reviews for Booking Mama has certainly exposed me to literature genres that I normally would not be inclined to read. First it was a spiritual thriller, then a horror novel, and now a psychological suspense novel. RAVENS by George Dawes Green races you through one week in the lives of the Boatwright family who has just won $318 million in the Georgia State Lottery and are being held hostage by a psychopath and his partner for half the prize.

It all begins when Shaw McBride and Romeo Zderco leave their boring techie jobs in Ohio for a fresh start in Florida and make a stop at a convenience store in Georgia. While there, a store clerk inadvertently reveals the name of the recent lottery winner to Shaw. By browsing the Internet, McBride obtains enough information about the family to develop a diabolical scheme to get half the prize. His plan is to hold the Boatwright family hostage while his friend Zderco drives around the town ready to murder the Boatwright’s family and friends at the first sign of resistance.

The most interesting aspect of the book to me is the well developed and memorable, sometimes bizarre, characters. Shaw McBride as a teenager learned of his ability to control and manipulate others. Romeo Zderco was always desperate to be accepted by others and falls under Shaw’s influence early on. Although Romeo is not a cold blooded killer and actually exhibits signs of kindness and compassion during this ordeal, he cannot say no to Shaw. Mitch Boatwright is the Christian zealot who spends significant time reading scripture and shows more anger when Shaw attributes his lottery success to faith in Jesus Christ than he shows with the threat to his family. His wife, Patsy is the family drunk and obsessive lottery player. His daughter Tara is more or less a typical twenty-one year old. You realize early on she will have an important role as this drama plays out. Other characters such as Tara’s card playing Grandmother Nell, her brother Jase, her friend Clio and Burris, the old city cop considered to be a buffoon, provide humorous and unusual elements to the story.

The author does an excellent job in showing how an unusual situation such as winning the lottery can change ordinary people. He also shows the members of the Boatwright family falling victim to the Stockholm syndrome. Interestingly, the author utilizes the imagery of Christianity throughout the novel as Patsy prays after winning the lottery, Tara tries to pray during the crisis but can’t, and Jase feels guilt after telling his friends about the lottery. Mitch’s faith is tested throughout the ordeal, and Shaw is accepted by the townspeople as a sort of messiah. Another interesting aspect of the book is the use of technologies such as text messaging and computer monitoring devices.

The novel moves along at a brisk pace building the suspense right up until the surprising conclusion. It is hard to believe that all this suspense can be crammed into just seven days. I recommend the book to anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers.

Check out these other tour stops:

July 20

July 21

July 22

July 23

July 24

A big thanks to Booking Pap Pap for his insightful review and to Miriam from Hachette for organizing this book tour.


Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

Sweet! I just bought this yesterday so I'm glad to hear that it's got some great characters and an interesting storyline.

Pam said...

Ah, thanks for the review. I came across this yesterday and it is now on my TBR list.

Kelly said...

Great review! This sounds like a book I'd love!

Jenn's Bookshelves said...

Wow! Sounds like a great book! How did I miss this one!?

Beth F said...

I've been going back and forth about whether I'd like this -- Thanks Bookin Pap Pap: I think you won me over.

bermudaonion said...

I thought this would be right up Booking Pap Pap's alley! I'm so glad he liked it!

Miriam Parker said...

Ditto what BermudaOnion said!

Anonymous said...

It sounds like it would make a great movie!

enyl said...

Sounds like a fun read and a great discussion starter, I would love to discuss theme in my classroom.

Serena said...

wow, that is full of twists and turns and juxtaposed ideas! What a great guest review.

Thanks for adding to the TBR list.