Friday, October 25, 2019

Book Review | Ten by Gretchen McNeil


Rating: 1 Star

I first saw this book over on Greg's blog and immediately thought, "Interesting, a retelling of one of my fave books ever." That is where I should have stopped thinking about the book.

But I didn't.

I proceeded to go to my library's homepage and submit a hold request.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

This is not a retelling, and barely even qualifies as a re-imagining. I would compare it much more heartily to Fear Street or Christopher Pike, where the plot does not actually have to make sense and the body count is what really matters. There was no subtly here, no mystery, just plain old teen-slasher hijinks that pretended to have anything in common with Christie's masterpiece. AND THEN HAS THE NERVE TO NEVER IN ANY WAY PAY HOMAGE TO THE ORIGINAL WORK. SERIOUSLY.

Now, if teen slasher hijinks is your thing, and honestly sometimes it is my thing too when I need a good palette-cleanser after a particularly heavy head, then have at it. But do not be fooled for one minute going in thinking it will in any way resemble the genius of And Then There Were None.

The premise involves a group of teenagers spending the weekend on Henry Island, away from anyone who could help them. They are cut off from the mainland when a raging storm rises up, and of course that is the time when one by one, each starts to meet a rather grisly end. Meg is the levelheaded and calm one. Minnie is the bi-polar drunk who Meg is constantly catering to and taking care of. She feels obligated to, they're best friends, but come on. No teenager is that selfless. Minnie is a hot fucking mess, ungrateful, and pathetic throughout the book, where she is drunk much of the time.

There are some twists and turns here, and major red herrings, which is the only commonality between it and the original. However, if you've read the original (and still insist on bothering with this one), you will know who the killer is rather quickly - even with having to suspend belief with literally everything else going on.

With the exception of TJ, none of the characters were particularly likable. And TJ is only likable because he is not annoying like every other teen stereotype portrayed. I get that it is difficult to write a character-driven story when there are ten characters to introduce and kill off, but maybe then that's a sign to NOT WRITE THE BOOK.

OR, take time to develop those characters. Make the book longer. It could have been so much better.

Either option would have been good. And then I would not have been angry about how tritely And Then There Were None was treated.

Let me be clear: I do not expect retellings to be carbon copies of the originals. That also defeats the purpose. But when the retelling completely destroys any semblance of the original, and all credibility along with it, that's a major problem. And again, I am really bothered by the fact that there was no connection within the book to Christie's work. There could easily have been little Easter Eggs hidden in plain sight throughout the novel to give credit where it was due. But there was nothing, and that is unfortunate.

Even if this book were to have had no original "source material", it still falls so easily into the 'leave-it' camp because it is predictable. It is as though every trope from every teen slasher book/movie ever needed to be included. We have the first murder, which presents as a suicide, we have a couple guys who are absolute douchebags so we know they will die from the get-go, then we have everyone turning on one another, characters go off by themselves when it is obvious a murderer is among them, and so on and so on and so on. And don't for one minute forget our 'heroine' with a massive martyr complex who also does no service to the portrayal of mental illness - did I mention Minnie was bi-polar? She is, and all throughout the book all Meg cares about it making sure Minnie has her meds so things don't get uncomfortable. Except everyone is being murdered, so that is a bit uncomfortable too.

Despite all the garbage, you might think something the book has going for it is the racial diversity of characters. At first I thought it was something that might redeem the book, because very early on I was already thinking what a shit-show this was. And yes, there is a lot of diversity, not just a bunch of rich white kids running around and dying. The problem though, as mentioned before, is that there is no character development. All the characters remain teen stereotypes and despite the outward diversity, it is impossible to tell any of them apart and I was constantly having to remind myself who the earliest characters to die were.

Agatha Christie must be rolling in her grave. There is no comparison. And Then There Were None is one of the greatest, if not THE. GREATEST. thriller/mystery of all time. The fact that this nonsense was allowed to see the light of day is beyond baffling. I found myself getting more and more angry as I read on, because it was all so pathetic and trite and predictable and typical, but still I kept going. If for nothing else, then to tell everyone I possibly can to not bother with this ever, at all. It took all I had to not fling it across the room when I was done. Instead, I calmly put it in my library bag, then made a beeline for Christie's masterpiece and stayed up the rest of the evening reading that to flush this drivel from my brain.


  1. Oh how sad! I got excited when I saw the cover and title and realized that it must be related to Ten Little Indians. I'm a Christie fan too so I'm not sure I'd want to be disappointed by this one.

    1. I was pretty excited at first too. If you love Christie, I would bypass this one altogether. There is nothing redeeming about it. The end boils down to: "Wow, all these crazy murders happened, we survived, and now we two hormonal teenagers can be together." UTTER RUBBISH!

  2. "drivel"... lots of that going around...

    1. Gah! Don't even get me started! I wish more people used the word drivel though. It's a top-notch word.

  3. Haha I think this is TWO now that I sorta liked that you didn't. I'm slipping. :) Although to be fair, I don't think I loved it, but I'd have to go back and look at my review. I think I liked it at the time, but looking back after several years... yeah. Doesn't age well in my mind. And definitely no subtlety to this one! Although the lack of proper homage I don't think bothered me too much because I'd never read the original- I just figured she was taking the idea and going her own way. Still, good points. :)

    Lol about Minnie.

    1. You ARE slipping! Both were books I saw on your blog, lol. I would say for someone who has no ties to Christie's work, then looked at in that way it is not terrible but there is nothing extraordinary about it. You really should give And Then There Were None a try. It's a stunning work of psychological warfare!

      Minnie was THE.WORST. !!!

  4. Replies
    1. I should have kind of expected it though. There's not much - nothing really - that compares to Christie's greatest work.

  5. Just goes to prove the point that although anyone can publish their own book these days, not everyone should! ;-)

    1. YAAAASSSSSSS!!! I was so angry through most of the time I spent reading it. UGH!


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