Thursday, June 9, 2011

YA Fiction: Tighter by Adele Griffin

Seventeen-year-old Jamie Atkinson has had a tough junior year. After a sports-related injury that still bothers her and a failed romance with her young chemistry teacher, she's turned to pill-popping her parents' meds for relief. When Jamie's parents pack her off to the island of Little Bly to be a summer au pair to Isa, she's shocked to find that Isa's au pair the year before, Jessie, looks eerily similar to herself - and that the other girl died the summer before along with her boyfriend, Pete Quint. Even more surprisingly, these two don't seem to be quite gone from this world. In a retelling of Henry James' The Turn of the Screw, Jamie is forced to discover her connection to the dead couple as the lines between reality, perception, and the supernatural are blurred.

Anyone familiar with James' story will realize that this is a retelling from simply reading the book's blurb and its first few pages. Very quickly, however, Griffin establishes her take as unique and capable of standing by itself without the added bonus of being a retelling. Tighter is distinctly YA, whereas James' story is distinctly not; the new novel features teenage issues (the protagonist is a pill-popper, for goodness' sake), high school drama, and a more relaxed writing style. Having read James' original story, the two are hard to otherwise compare besides noting that Griffin's writing is easier to understand. Tighter is not as thrillingly, can't-put-it-down suspenseful as I expected, but the mystery of the ghost story is still there. The most amazing part for me, however, was the conclusion, which makes a definite break with The Turn of the Screw and makes Tighter even more deeply a distinctly YA novel (and also changes it's expected genre around a bit). But as to what the actual climax is, that is a discovery I will let other readers make on their own...

Some interesting notes: It took me forever to realize that the object on the front cover is a girl turned sideways, not a frog. Also, I find it creepy that, at the end, it is revealed that Jamie's middle name is Susanna (my name, for those of you who don't know). Susanna is not that common a name, so it seems a bit uncanny to me when it pops up in books/television.

My ARC of Tighter was won from Random Buzzers' Twitter account. The book went on sale May 10, 2011.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't read The Turn of the Screw, but I do have Tighter on my bookshelf waiting for attention. It sounds like it's going to be a great read, if not a little scary!