HAPPY TUESDAY, Reading Nook readers!
Today, we're reviewing the creepy and beautifully twisted, I Am Her Revenge.
Debut author Meredith Moore has written a fascinating tale on how desire can become obsession, and how one girl is forced to choose her destiny in a long game that she's been born to play, but soon realizes that she doesn't completely understand.
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 7th 2015 by Razorbill
Format read: E-ARC via publisher
Moore asks readers to consider what life would be like if you were born with the sole purpose of extracting revenge on someone, and what happens when you begin to question that very purpose.
Vivian was raised with one purpose in life: to exact revenge on behalf of her mother. Manipulative and cruel, Mother has deprived Vivian not only of a childhood, but of an original identity. With an endless arsenal of enticing personalities at her disposal, Vivian is a veritable weapon of deception.
And she can destroy anyone.
When it’s time to strike, she enrolls in a boarding school on the English moors, where she will zero in on her target: sweet and innocent Ben, the son of the man who broke Mother’s heart twenty years ago.
Anyone… except for the woman who created her.
With every secret she uncovers, Vivian comes one step closer to learning who she really is. But the more she learns about herself, the more dangerous this cat and mouse game becomes. Because Mother will stop at nothing to make sure the truth dies with her.
Debut author Meredith Moore introduces us to Vivian Foster, a girl who has been groomed to be a weapon for her entire life. Her mother has systematically trained her since childhood to target Ben, the son of the man who once jilted Vivian's mother.
However, once Vivian enrolls at the same British boarding school as Ben to kick off her plans of revenge, she begins to realize that things aren't as black-and-white as she has been led to believe. There are secrets and revelations to both of their pasts, which may alter Vivian's plans forever...
The first thing that readers should keep in mind when reading I Am Her Revenge, is that Moore isn't afraid to dig into the darkest psychological instincts of humanity. Similar to William Faulkner in Absalom, Absalom, or Charles Dickens in Great Expectations, Moore's created complex, compelling characters that are more than willing to indulge in their basest impulses to get their way - a la Miss Havisham from Dickens' novel.
So while Mother's obsession with Ben's father may initially come off as inexplicable, Moore quickly establishes that there's a driving force behind that obsession which goes beyond simply being jilted. This is a person who is willing to win at all costs, including depriving Vivian of the childhood that she deserved. Vivian's matter-of-fact descriptions of watching her mother systematically torture and eliminate anything that could have possibly bring Vivian joy throughout her childhood, is both heartbreaking and painful, as readers are left to consider just how loveless Vivian's earlier years must have been.
With that in mind, it's all the more impressive when after Vivian kicks off her plans, that she - and the reader - both realize that she's not devoid of feeling after all. She finds herself developing more than just a clinical interest in Ben, and is also surprised by the appearance of her childhood friend, Arthur. Both boys unwittingly and deliberately remind her that there's more to life than vengence, and Moore does a brilliant job of showing how Vivian's feelings of desire and growing autonomy, begins conflicting with her once blind alliegance to her mother.
Ultimately, the story comes to a head in a way that is both shocking, but also fitting to the themes of the novel. Even though no one necessarily gets their happy ending, Moore is careful to emphasize that there is a better tomorrow on the horizon, and that the characters will be able to make peace with their once thorny path.
Readers will undoubtedly enjoy the eerie boarding school setting, but will also appreciate seeing Vivian's evolution from a chess piece in her mother's personal game of revenge, to someone who begins to realize who she is and how to take control of her own destiny.
Highly recommend for fans of Faulkner, and for those who are looking for unique coming-of-age tales about family and forging your own path.