July 24, 2010

Obedience: Review (Adult)

Will Lavender's Obedience is the type of book that you need to devour all in one sitting. It's a read-into-the-wee-hours-of-the-morning mystery with a huge dollop of psychology thrown in, and an ending that you will either love or hate. I loved it.

Set at a university, Obedience follows the lives of three university students - Mary, Brian, and Dennis - through a school term. All three are taking Logic and Reasoning 204, taught by the mysterious Professor Williams. No one knows exactly who he is, and yet he soon has the class eating out of the palm of his hand, each student eager to demonstrate they can be the one to crack the case he sets before them: a hypothetical murder. Who can discover the potential killer - and back it up with clear logical reasoning - before the term ends? Each week he gives another clue - time, place, motive, circumstance - but for a select few students, the events of their own lives are starting to bear eerie similarities to those of the assignment. And eventually they are forced to ask the question: just how much of this is a made-up exercise in logic - and how much of it is reality?

The books involving college or university students as protagonists are few and far between, and I certainly wish there were more like Obedience. I don't like my mysteries full of blood and gore, and thankfully this one is all about messing with your mind, with very little violence at all. The writing style kept me frantically flipping the pages to see what would happen next (I think I finished it in about two days.) It's one of those novels that gets you to question everything you're reading, look for hidden connections, and try to make sense of the seemingly impossible. Everything was written as though it were hiding something; you can tell this from the very first line in Chapter 1, "The strange thing about Williams was that nobody had ever seen him." While I never really connected strongly with any of the protagonists, it wasn't really that necessary for my enjoyment of this novel (which is unusual, because generally I like to be able to sympathize with at least one main character). Rather, it was all about figuring out the mystery, and the characters were just pieces of a larger picture.

I can't say too much without spoiling everything. Some Amazon reviews have complained about the ending as being too much of a cop-out, and while I can see where they're coming from, I still really enjoyed it. When I finished reading this book, my first reaction was just: WOW. Really, the only thing I find unfortunate is that I can never again have the exhilarating experience I had reading it for the very first time, now that I know all the secrets. Other than that, it's brilliant!

5 out of 5 shooting stars.

Just a head's-up that this is an adult novel and it does contain some sexual content and explicit language. Also, another warning: You may not want to read it right before bed!

1 comment:

  1. Hi! Hopping over to say hey! Really like your eclectic mix of books--looking forward to your reviews. :)


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