Thursday, November 21, 2013

Unthinkable Unfinished

The thing about having an enormous reading list of exciting books that I'm dying to read is that my tolerance for a three-star book is minimal; something I might push through on another day is not going to hold my attention when so many tantalizing books are waiting in the pile.

Thus the sad fate of Nancy Werlin's Unthinkable.  In the afterword (which I skipped ahead and read; go figure, right?), she discusses how the book came about--how someone suggested she do a prequel to her excellent book Impossible, and she ended up writing a sequel instead.

Impossible is the story of Lucy, whose family is cursed.  In every generation, a baby girl is born.  That girl grows up to have a baby at 16 and then go insane.  Lucy and her adoptive parents don't believe in the curse--until Lucy finds herself pregnant and haunted.  Now, they need to find a way to break the curse before the baby is born. This was a lovely book, about the power of family, and how important it can be to have allies, and how cycles can be broken. 

Someone suggested the author write a prequel about Lucy's ancestor, Fenella, who was cursed centuries ago by a jealous fairy and has been his prisoner ever since.  Werlin declared a prequel to be a terrible idea, since of course we all know that the story has a sad ending.  Instead, she writes a sequel--Fenella, released from Fairy at last, has to earn her last bit of freedom by committing three acts of destruction--the counterpoint to the three acts of creation that saved Lucy originally.

So we have Unthinkable, which tells of Fanella reentering the world to free herself by harming others.  Interspersed, we have the story of young Fanella walking blithely into her curse.  It's all just so sad and depressing.  And frustrating!  There are so many places where things didn't have to end up the way they did, but by the time the book is underway, the whole thing feels like an exercise in cruelty, like one of those thought experiments where you have to decide which of your most precious loved ones you would save from a fire.

I'm sorry to set this aside; I really did love Impossible.  But as I said, there is a stack of exciting books beside me, and in a tight race like this, Unthinkable just isn't going to place.

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