Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Survivor, by Tabitha King

(hb; 1997)

From the inside flap:

"Kissy Mellors, an extraordinary photographer, is at the wheel of her Blazer when a shattering accident sparks a slow-burning, ultimately explosive drama of desire and decision. It is night. She is driving back to her apartment through the campus of a Maine college. A yellow T-bird zooms past her and hits two female pedestrians. One life is ended. One life is suspended in a coma. And Kissy's life is changed forever.

"After the accident three men enter Kissy's life. One is James Houston, the drunken premed student responsible for the fatal collision. One is Mike Burke, the policeman who arrived at the scene moments later. And one is Junior Clootie, a college hockey star being groomed for the pros, with whom Kissy begins an intensely sexual affair while still shaken by the aftershock of the nightmare experience."


This is three-quarters of a perfect novel, with characters at once admirable and deeply flawed, and an immaculately paced story that charts the twists and turns of each of the characters' lives as their paths cross and diverge. I was immediately absorbed in King's reads-like-real-life-yet-eloquent prose, and loathed having to set the book down to deal with my own life, which rarely fails to fascinate me.

It's in the final quarter of the novel that it stumbles, character-wise. One of the characters -- namely Kissy, about whom the action/story revolves -- acts uncharacteristically erratic and selfish in her desires, when before, even her impulsive acts made sense. Granted, some extreme situations present themselves in the story, but still...

The finish, ably and slyly built up to, dovetails the novel nicely, almost making up for Kissy's forced, oddball behavior near the end.

Good read that could've been great -- still worth reading, though. For a better King novel, check out The Book of Reuben.


Kekly said...

I read the whole book in anticipation of a plot, or a meaning or something! The book takes you through the life of Kissy without connecting you. I ended up being mad at the main charater for just being used and stupid. The title "survivor" doesn't come into play until the last 4 pages of the book. All in all, I found this a hard read with no real reason to be wrote. I will read one more of her books and hope I find some reason for reading Tabitha's books.

Steve said...

Kissy's life was supposed to be the plot, or at least it seemed that way to me -- but I can see how you'd feel that way about Survivor. She was a frustrating character to read about, at times.

My main problem was that her sometimes-dumb choices (love makes you do these things, I guess) didn't exactly make her wiser. Still, I was okay with the novel's wrap-up, once her weirdness (in the last three-quarters of the novel) passed. Not King's best book. You might like King's first novel, Small World: it's more genre-specific (Twilight Zone-ish) than Survivor, and, if I remember right, had more plot/less character BS.

Thanks for commenting. Your input and suggestions are most welcome. :)

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