In the springtime I went to a local independent bookstore. It was a nice experience, bright and warm outside, and there were a slew of authors meandering the crammed bookshelves and actually helping customers out. The author of Compulsion was at the store and she seemed like a very lovely lady. I spoke only briefly with her, but overall, you got this vibe from her that she was sweet to the core. I had interest in her book then but put off buying the book.
During one of my many book shopping trips, I picked up the novel and thought, "Why not?" and brought it home. It was a quick read and exactly what I had been craving. Give me those southern charms and the hanging Spanish moss! Give me the pleasantries and creepy ghosts! Give me all those tales!
I'm a Yankee who really enjoys the south. At least, I enjoy visiting the southern states and coming back to the north (technically, Virginia is in the "south" but I live in Northern Virginia which many argue is "north"). I don't claim to know all the details to southern living. I still find out some interesting fact on each trip I make, but I still really enjoy the atmosphere and any books that focus on the region.
The book was a great fit for what I needed when I read it. I had just finished a final for graduate school and I desperately needed something quick and easy to read. Reading is a great way for me to calm down and have a mental restart so this book helped me achieve that. It was interesting enough that I'm interested in the next book, but past that, I don't know if I would go so far as to say I loved reading it. Overall, this book left me wondering if I've finally reached a point where I'm too old to read YA literature.
Compulsion takes a San Francisco girl and plops her right into the south. She has little to no experience of life outside of the city so this is a complete change of pace for her. The book has a great plot but it could have been executed much more neatly. This may come to a fault of the proofreader or editor of this book (as an editor, it hurts me to say that, I'm sorry, but I feel the fault can be on multiple people). Barrie--our main character--confused me. She was extremely moody and easily annoyed and ALWAYS RUNNING. She'd become irritated with Eight (our love interest and next door neighbor) over almost anything and then run away from him. Nearly every single time. So often she would run off and I picture this girl running away from a parking lot, on a road, in a yard, teetering in ridiculous heels, and it looked so ridiculous and immature to me. Eight is a decent character, I liked him, and I also felt that he may have been a little too good for Barrie since she was so damn flippant.
Barrie has been through the ringer though. She has dealt with a lot of awful things recently--the death of her mother and cancer diagnosis of her godfather, plus a move across country--and considering this, she's reacting pretty damn well. I mean, maybe the anger is her reaction to all that's gone on in her life, but it somehow feels like she runs away after easily being annoyed is a part of her personality.
For the characters you shouldn't like, as in they are the villains, the author made them extremely unlikable. There were numerous unexplained plot points and plot holes which grew increasingly irritating to me. It's also a pretty long book to have so much happen in the course of, like, four days (in the book's time frame). And all during this time, Barrie adjusts to the area pretty well and more or less falls in love. It just seems like a quick turn of events over a very short span of time which makes it harder to believe.
The book did achieve what I was looking for though. I wanted the pleasure and comfort of reading, I wanted to escape, I wanted a break for my brain after a grueling grad school class, and I was able to have all of that in this novel. I think the following book would do much the same but if you're looking for more than that, look elsewhere.