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Friday, April 10, 2015

The Tragedy Paper A Quiet, Atmospheric Mystery

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

A student's last year at New York's prestigious Irving School is about one thing:  traditions.  There are the gifts graduates leave in their dorm rooms for the incoming occupants to find, the clandestine game/prank the most popular seniors secretly organize and carry out, there's the dreaded "tragedy paper" assigned by the school's toughest teacher and, of course, there's the curse which guarantees that each year, one senior will leave school for some mysterious, inexplicable reason.

Duncan Meade, a senior from Michigan, can't wait to begin his final year at Irving.  Although the tragedy paper already weighs heavily on his mind, he's anxious to get his room assignment and find what's been left behind for him.  He's dismayed to learn he'll be living in the most undesirable room in the dorm, the former home of an albino named Tim MacBeth.  Most unimpressive is the lame stack of CDs Tim left for him—it's not even music, just the boy talking about his "downfall."  It's only when Duncan begins listening to them that he becomes entranced by Tim's story, which promises to reveal the truth behind the tragic incident that marred the former school year and led to a senior's mysterious leave-taking.  While unraveling the secrets of Tim MacBeth, Duncan must deal with his own dramas—and come to terms with the part he played in the grim events that changed Tim's life forever  

As you can probably tell from the cover, if not its plot description, The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan is a quiet, atmospheric mystery.  Featuring authentic, sympathetic characters, its plot unfolds slowly, building tension all along the way.  Comparatively, the novel's climax is a bit of a disappointment.  It's rather, well, anti-climactic.  Still, the novel kept me turning pages.  Sure, I would have liked smoother prose, a more dramatic ending, and a subtler overall story, but all in all, I enjoyed this one.

(Readalikes:  The publisher compares it to 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher and Looking for Alaska by John Green.  I haven't read the latter, but I agree the former is similar.)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, and mild sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

6 comments:

  1. This one sounds good. Putting it on my list. I'm pretty much a sucker for books set in private schools. Don't exactly know why. Just find them very appealing. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm a huge sucker for them, too. Don't know why. There's just something about them ...

      Delete
  2. My husband thought this was great so I read it and liked it all right. I agree with your take on it. Here's a link to our review if interested: http://ourstack.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-tragedy-paper-by-elizabeth-laban-ya.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just looked at the comments on your review of THE TRAGEDY PAPER and had to laugh. Looks like you guys were one of the reasons I picked it up in the first place. I always love recommendations from you two!

      Delete
  3. Sounds good - I do like a quiet atmospheric novel that is well-written. Good to hear you enjoyed it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I liked this one well enough, but agree with you that the climax was seriously anti-climatic. I couldn't believe how...tame? the big event was.

    ReplyDelete

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Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson

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