Thursday, May 17, 2012

Review: Tighter

Tighter, by Adele Griffin. The GoodReads summary:
When 17-year-old Jamie arrives on the idyllic New England island of Little Bly to work as a summer au pair, she is stunned to learn of the horror that precedes her. Seeking the truth surrounding a young couple's tragic deaths, Jamie discovers that she herself looks shockingly like the dead girl—and that she has a disturbing ability to sense the two ghosts. Why is Jamie's connection to the couple so intense? What really happened last summer at Little Bly? As the secrets of the house wrap tighter and tighter around her, Jamie must navigate the increasingly blurred divide between the worlds of the living and the dead.
In case you missed the memo, Tighter is a modernization of The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James. And as such, it kinda threw me a little—because I’m split on whether I liked the book or not. On the one hand, I think it’s an awesome adaptation, but if I try to look at it just as a YA ghost story, there a bunch of things I have issues with.

Like I said, I really do think it’s a fairly brilliant take on Henry James’s novella. Since it had been a while since I’d read the original, I read a summary before starting Tighter, and as I was reading Tighter, I was impressed over and over again how Adele Griffin manages to keep the same basic plot but make it her own. But even more than that, I was impressed at how she managed to capture the tone of the original—that creepy gothic feel that has you wondering whether the ghosts are real or if the narrator is just crazy.

But on its own . . . I don’t know, I think the book would feel weird and a little confusing to anyone who wasn’t familiar with The Turn of the Screw. I feel like some things don’t add up or are left as loose ends, and while they don’t matter in terms of it being an adaption, they do matter if I’m just looking at this as a YA read. Plus, Jamie isn’t a particularly likeable main character—and having read the original, I know liking her isn’t the important part. But if I had just gone into this book without being familiar with the story, Jamie would’ve driven me crazy so fast.

I will say, though, that I thought the climax was well done. A certain fact is revealed that I was totally NOT expecting but that fit into the story perfectly, and after I had picked my jaw up off the floor, I was just like, “Bravo, Ms. Griffin!” I also thought she did great job at building the tension higher and higher until finally something had to give. I love it when an author gets the climax of a story right.

Overall, I think I’d definitely recommend either reading The Turn of the Screw or at least a summary of it before reading Tighter. Because while it shines as a modernization of James’s story, I think it would have too many WTF moments if you weren’t familiar with the original.

Rating: 3 / 5

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