Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A "Sweetheart" She Ain't!

Since the end is near for 2008, I thought I would post at least one more review before the ball drops! I actually ended up reading a few more books than I did last year which is totally amazing since I'm working twice as much!! But the last review of the year is Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain (336 pgs., St. Martin's Minotaur, 2008), the follow-up to HeartSick.

Forest Park was pretty in the summer. Portland's ash sky was barely visible behind a canopy of aspens, hemlock, cedars, and maples that filtered the light to a shimmering pale green. A light breeze tickled the leaves. Morning glories and ivy crept up the mossy tree trunks and strangled the blackberry bushes and ferns, a mass of crawling vines that piled up waist-high on either side of the packed dirt path. The creek hummed and churned, birds chirped. It was all very lovely, very Walden, except for the corpse.

(There may be a few spoilers for HeartSick in this review)
Once the After-School killer had been revealed....and Gretchen Lowell's part in it, Archie Sheridan promised himself he was done. Done with Gretchen. Done with his visits to the prison to see her. She had controlled every aspect of his life for so many years, he couldn't even count. Now, he wanted it all to be over. Archie had moved back in with his (ex-) wife and kids. He was back on the force working cases. And he was in therapy.

Susan Ward had also moved on since the After-School killer. She moved back in with her mom! She decided that after a brush with a killer and death, a little growing up may be in order. No longer does she have pink hair because apparently turquoise is more professional. And she is serious about her investigation into Senator Castle's life. She knows the man was bad news, and now she has sworn testimony from Molly Palmer, the girl that had the "relationship" with the Senator when she was 14 years old. That is, until the Senator AND Susan's mentor end up dead, when the car they were in crashed over the Freemont Bridge.

All the players are back in this follow-up to HeartSick. And while I was hardly able to put this book down, I didn't like it nearly as well as I did the first. The things that made HeartSick so good was the fact that is was unique. Gretchen Lowell, the female serial killer...and the way she was still in Archie Sheridan's life. THESE were some of the reasons I really liked HeartSick. In Book 2, these reasons aren't unique anymore. In fact, they were a little redundant.

The relationship between Archie and Gretchen is also a big part of this book. Truth be told, it really made me uncomfortable. I find it hard to believe that any person that had been through what Archie went through, could still have feelings for his captor. Was he in love with her? In a really twisted way, he was. And it just made me want to shake him. He does a lot of things that no sane person would do. And if you can actually get over the fact that the woman fed you drain cleaner and tortured you for 10 days, then more power to you. But when said woman threatens your family...and your small kids, then maybe it's time to say enough is enough.

I actually liked Susan a lot more in this book. She was trying to balance her need to be a journalist and get "the story" and the fact that a lot of journalism feeds off the pain of others. She showed a lot of sass and determination in this book, and I think she might have been my favorite character.

I'm not saying it's a bad book because it's not. Chelsea Cain has created some really memorable characters and she certainly knows how to write some thrilling sequences. Personally, I don't understand Archie. He's a broken man, yes. I know. But one with a family that has looked past a lot of stuff to let him in again. And he is ready to pack it all in for a homicidal psychopath. Makes me think his sanity should be a little more in question!

If you've read HeartSick, you will probably want to read Sweetheart, just to know what happens. Who knows, maybe you'll love it more than I did!! 3.5/5


S. Krishna said...

I didn't read the full review because I haven't read Heartsick yet, but I'm sorry you didn't enjoy Sweetheart as much as you could have!

Dark Orpheus said...

So, it's a lesser book compared to Heartsick? I think I'll just wait for the book to be available from the library when I get home.

Stephanie said...

S. Krishna - That's ok. Don't want to spoil anything for your. That's why I mentioned spoilers!

Dark Orpheus - I didn't like it as much. Like I said, the things that made Heartsick really good...just wasn't the same here. Gretchen just gives me the creeps..and I don't want Archie to have anything to do with her. Made me want to shake him!

Ladytink_534 said...

I finally got around to reading this a week ago. I really liked it and it made me wish that Cain wasn't such a new author so there would be more out there to read by her!