Review: Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Gretchen McNeil 
Series: None
Release Date: September 18th, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Number of Pages: 294
Source: Bought
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

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And their doom comes swiftly.

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?
Vengeance is mine; I will repay.
For the time when their foot shall slide. 
For the day of their disaster is near.
And their doom comes swiftly.

Ten is the story of ten (ha! Get it? Because the book is called Ten? Ah. I'll just stop now...) teenagers who are all invited to a secret house party on a secluded island over the course of a three-day weekend. Expecting to have a fun, drunken and hormonally stereotypical time at the party, best friends Meg and Minnie decide to go, despite Meg's reservations. However, as the two arrive at the secluded island and equally as secluded party house, things begin to go awry, and not just because Meg's crush, whom she cancelled her homecoming date with, happened to be at the party. After watching a video depicting random, seemingly insignificant scenes, ending with a chilling message, "Vengeance is mine.", the teenagers start getting picked off one by one by an unknown killer, and at this party, there's no one you can trust.

I'll be the first to admit that I expected very little from Ten going into it. At first, before its publication, Ten had received raving reviews, and was at my top priority ARC list for quite a while. But then, after its publication, Ten started receiving many two and one star ratings, some from very trusted friends of mine, and my anticipation grew less and less to the point where I went into this expecting to be frustrated and to let my snark out with Ten, only to, in the end, be genuinely surprised by it in almost every way imaginable.

What I originally expected Ten to be upon reading its synopsis months ago was a fun read that would resemble a campy eighties' slasher flick, but afterwards, judging by the negative reviews, I expected it to be a predictable, melodramatic and boring read. This instance, among many, is one where I should have gone with my initial expectation, because let me tell you, I had a whole lot of fun with this campy little book.

You may not know this about me, but I love horror. I read it; I watch it; I love it; I live it. I grew up reading Goosebumps by R.L. Stine (they are practically the basis behind my love for horror), watching Nightmare on Elm Street as a child (I may or may not own the Collector's Edition with all eight movies), and reading Stephen King as a teenager (to this day, he remains as my favorite author of all-time, and I highly doubt he will ever be replaced). As a horror fan, setting is everything to me. Small town, carnival, or, in Ten's case, secluded island - whatever the setting is, if you manage to get it and its atmosphere down, I'm putty in your knife-wielding hands.

And that's where I feel Gretchen McNeil hit a home run with Ten. Immediately in Ten, we're brought into a big storm, crashing the waves around Henry Island onto the coast, swaying the ferry carrying two party-goers in for the weekend of their lives or deaths (I had to), and I just felt like I was there. That feeling remained throughout the entire novel, and just made for an incredibly creepy and atmospheric read. I felt like I was there with Meg, slowly putting together the clues as to who the killer was, leading up to a reveal that I definitely did not see coming, and more importantly, I felt for the characters. I felt for Meg. I felt for the other party-goers (well, most of them. For some I was just counting down the pages until they'd meet their death), and, shockingly enough, I felt for the killer. McNeil does a superb job at setting the scene for the readers, and having readers feel for the characters they don't want to feel for. The killer and red-herrings were, for me, difficult to spot, I found the deaths to be cleverly thought out, and I kept changing my theory as to who the killer was throughout the entire novel. Whether or not Ten is simply a loose retelling of And Then There Were None or a complete and total rip-off is unbeknownst to me, as I have not yet read the latter, but what I can say is that if you haven't yet read And Then There Were None, with Ten, you're in for a shocking and chilling three-day weekend at Henry Island.


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