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The novel I read for the month of February was Creep, the debut novel by Canadian author Jennifer Hillier. Friend and fellow blogger Karen (this Karen here) recommended the book to me. It turns out that Jennifer Hillier is Karen’s friend and fellow blogger as well. Last September Karen decided to interview Hillier about her debut novel, and instead, decided to allow Hillier to interview herself. (To read the transcript of Jennifer Hillier interviewing Jennifer Hillier, click HERE.)
The more I read about Hillier, the more I liked her. She’s got a great sense of humor, and she seems like an amicable, approachable, completely down to earth person. And (I’m not sure how to say this, or how offensive this might sound) but she seems like the cool chick guys just want to hang out with. I am now
stalking following her blog (which can be found by clicking HERE).
Through her blog, she has candidly discussed her journey from being a new writer to her search for a literary agent, from getting published with a major publisher (Simon & Schuster) to the process of writing her follow-up book (due out later this year).
I decided that, not only would Creep be the novel I read for February, but that it would be my very first purchase as an e-book. I purchased the book through Barnes & Noble’s free app and as I read, it took me a while to get used to the e-book experience. I had to let go of the tactile and olfactory pleasures of reading through actual paper pages, but I liked some of the control that e-readers provide (enlarging text, changing the background lighting to reduce eye strain, digital bookmarks, etc.) I may try another e-book in the future.
Now for the review.
Hillier has garnered great reviews from a large number of critics, but her novel was not really my type of book. The story is marketed as a psychological thriller in the mainstream fiction genre, and most of the reviews for the book label it as “summer fiction” or a great “beach read” and I wholeheartedly agree. It’s not necessarily that Creep is bad or anything like that…I just usually stay away from that genre.
But here’s the thing…I couldn’t put it down.
The story begins with the main character, psychology professor Sheila Tao, contemplating exactly how to end an affair she is having with Ethan, a graduate student and one of Sheila’s teaching assistants. The guilt is weighing upon her, not necessarily because it’s the wrong thing to do, but primarily because of her upcoming wedding to her fiance Morris. It’s not until she ends the affair that she realizes her student is an obsessive psychopath with a cruel and calculating violent streak.
I didn’t want to like the novel…but I couldn’t put it down. The characters were fairly one-dimensional, and they often made terrible decisions that most people would never make. The main characters are:
I didn’t care for the characters…but I couldn’t put the book down. There was nothing special about the characters’ dialogue, and I thought Hillier’s writing was rather basic and flat…but I still couldn’t put the book down.
There’s a point in the story where I almost lost it completely. WARNING…I’m about to seriously provide a spoiler here. If you plan on reading the novel, you may want to skip over this part here. I’m serious…it’s a bit of a spoiler. Anyway, there was this point in the story after Ethan kidnapped Sheila when Morris the fiance realized something was not right and contacted the police who were no help whatsoever. So he decided to pay for a private investigator. This private investigator was an ex-cop who JUST HAPPENED to have taken a psychology class from Sheila years ago…and who JUST HAPPENS to be married to a psychologist…and this psychologist wife of his JUST HAPPENS to be Sheila’s good friend who JUST HAPPENS to also be Sheila’s own personal therapist who JUST HAPPENS to provide the right information that leads to Sheila’s rescue. I tell you, man, I almost lost it.
But damnit, I couldn’t put the book down. I kept turning the pages to see how things were going to end. And even though it seemed to finish a bit too abruptly, she managed to add a fairly nice twist at the end that set her up perfectly for the second book deal from her publisher.
As much as I wanted to dislike the book, I actually enjoyed reading it. The bottom line is that Jennifer Hillier has an eye for the thriller genre, and I have to give the author a lot of credit for writing the type of fiction that sells.