Ten was a specifically chosen read this week because the Litwits are meeting this Sunday to discuss Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. Gretchen McNeil’s novel is a YA retelling of Christie’s classic. Since I’ve read ATTWN in the past year, I decided to give Ten a go instead of rereading.
The most basic plot description of both books is rather simple – 10 people meet at a house on an isolated island and start to die one-by-one.
McNeil’s version mostly won me over for nostalgia reasons. I could not help but feel this retelling oozed a little bit of R.L. Stine one moment and a whole lot of Christopher Pike the next (he even blurbed the book!). I cannot tell y’all how many books by those two authors I inhaled as a young reader. They were better than candy. And current YA tends to lack so thoroughly in good old-fashioned fast paced horror that I just sat back and let this book happen to me.
As the teens are slowly and bloodily killed off, you won’t find anything literary or even fresh. This story has been told time and time again with all the red herrings and gimmicks barely doing their job. I knew who the killer was before the book was halfway over, but it didn’t really matter. I liked the suspenseful moments and the psychological torment these young people were facing and how they reacted to their situation.
The dialogue is filled with teen speak which many readers have bemoaned, but really, what else should we expect? These are teenagers after all and slang is fairly normal among even the most mature. Hell, I still use slang all the time and so do y’all! So I won’t fault it too much. I did have slight issues with who was using the slang. Certain times a phrase just didn’t sit well with a male character versus as female character – but those gender slants are my own issue.
And the ending? Cheestastic and the only real disappointment – especially compared to Christie’s.
I’m not going to recommend running straight out and reading this YA horror novel. I’m not even going to recommend it to those readers who read and adored ATTWN. But if you enjoyed Stine and Pike at some point in your life, this little gem will take you back to those days in the best of ways. And if you’re young and have never experienced YA horror – give this one a shot. Yes, there’s some gore. Yes, there’s some foul language and sexual situations, but nothing too graphic! It’s just enough to tantalize the younger crowd without going overboard.
I look forward to discussing Ten with the ladies this weekend. Hopefully, I’ll be able to convince someone else to give this a shot. And I’m convinced more than ever that I need to find some Christopher Pike novels and settle in for a nice, lovely visit with ghosts of my childhood past.