Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Book Review #10 and Blog Tour: RAVENS by George Dawes Green

by George Dawes Green

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pub. Date: July 2009
ISBN-13: 9780446538961
Sales Rank: 988

Description (from the publisher):

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.

My Rating: 5/5

My Thoughts:

Only after reading George Dawes Green's bold new novel, can one appreciate the sly cleverness of the title. Take a close look at this definition of "raven" from Dictionary.com:

ra⋅ven 1  /ˈreɪvən/ [rey-vuhn]

1. any of several large, corvine birds having lustrous, black plumage and a loud, harsh call, esp. Corvus corax, of the New and Old Worlds.
2. the divine culture hero and trickster of the North Pacific Coast Indians.
3. (initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Corvus.

4. lustrous black: raven locks of hair.

verb (used without object)
1. to seek plunder or prey.
2. to eat or feed voraciously or greedily: to raven like an animal.
3. to have a ravenous appetite.

verb (used with object)
4. to seize as spoil or prey.
5. to devour voraciously.

6. rapine; robbery.
7. plunder or prey.
Origin: bef. 900; ME; OE hrǣfn; c. G Rabe, ON hrafn

rav·en 2 (rāv'ən)
rav·ened, rav·en·ing, rav·ens

v. tr.
To consume greedily; devour.
To seek or seize as prey or plunder.

v. intr.
To seek or seize prey or plunder.
To eat ravenously.

n. Variant of ravin.

[From Middle English ravin, raven, rapine, plunder, prey; see ravin.]

rav'en·er n.

rav·in also rav·en (rāv'ən)

Voracity; rapaciousness.
Something taken as prey.
The act or practice of preying.

[Middle English ravin, raven, from Old French ravine, rapine, from Latin rapīna, from rapere, to seize; see rep- in Indo-European roots.]

Now add this further elucidation of "rapaciousness": subsisting by the capture of living prey; predacious

There's certainly plenty of rapaciousness in RAVENS. It's also got greed, plunder and prey aplenty! George Dawes Green has created one lusciously multi-layered, edge-of-your-seat thriller. I'm trying to resist saying that I devoured this book. I will tell you that once my review copy arrived, I spent several days trying to keep myself away from it; other titles held priority, but they couldn't capture my attention away from the simple white book with the actualizing title. Finally, I yielded, seized the book, and consumed it greedily.

While tension and suspense are constant throughout RAVENS, it was the quirky yet ordinary characters populating the novel that I found so compelling. There's Tara Boatwright, the 21-year-old who is trying to bridge not only adolescence and adulthood but the gulf between her Christian devotee father, Mitch, and her alcohol and gambling addicted mother, Patsy. From her annoying little brother, Jase, to her tattooed best friend, Clio, to her feisty, card-playing grandmother, Nell, all the way to the disrespected old cop, Burris (who harbors some secrets of his own), the residents of the small Georgia town of Brunswick seem like people you could meet anywhere. Green, however, gets inside their heads and shows us, if not exactly what makes them tick, then how they tick. I found the inner workings of the "good guys" in this psychological suspense to be quite disturbing. So how am I to describe the complexities and contradictions of the two guys wearing the black hats?

Shaw McBride, the so-called brains of the operation, is one of the most despicable and unsympathetic villains I have ever encountered in a work of fiction. Romeo Zderko is one of the most pathetic and misguided. Just because the characters are all compelling, it doesn't mean that they're at all appealing. Yet beginning with the opening scene's unfortunate roadkill to the explosive denouement, I could not look away.

And lest you still believe that RAVENS is no better than your everyday, run-of-the-mill thriller, go back up to the definition section and consider this entry:


2. the divine culture hero and trickster of the North Pacific Coast Indians.

* * *

About the author (from the Publisher):

George Dawes Green is a highly acclaimed novelist and poet, and the founder of the groundbreaking storytelling organisation, The Moth. He currently divides his time between Georgia and New York.

Click here to read an excerpt.

Author website

Audio clip

GIVEAWAY: Enter to win a copy of RAVENS at the following sites:

This Book For Free (drawing to be held August 5th)

Drey's Library (deadline: August 5th)

A Bookworm's World (deadline: August 20th)

Thank you to Miriam and Hachette Book Group for organizing this blog tour and for providing me with my review copy of RAVENS.


Carolina Gal's Literary Cafe said...

I just recieved in the mail today. Sounds like a very intense book.

Anonymous said...

This books sounds like spomething I'd read.

kalea_kane said...

This sounds fantastic. What an amazingly thorough and original review. The cover is very enticing. I can see how it would be hard to avoid. :)

bermudaonion said...

I really enjoyed this book, too! The setting and the characters were so real to me.

Ashley said...

I love your review. It's so in depth!

Dixie said...

This book sounds like it has everything I look for in suspense.
Great review.

Zibilee said...

I read another review of this book that made it sound pretty dark and frightening, but I see you say it has it's comic elements as well. I am curious about it, but am not sure if it would be for me. I did enjoy reading your review though.