One of my favorite books is the Ice Storm. It’s one of the saddest books ever and the impending storm builds as does the intense feeling that something awful is going to happen and the there’s no way to save the characters from themselves or their decisions. The book is bleak as hell and most people hate it because of that, but the writing and the tension are truly amazing. When I read the little blurb from Book Bub yesterday about The Party, I got a little “Ice Storm Lite” sense and they tossed out the Megan Abbott comparisons, so for a cool $1.99, I picked it up. To be honest, I could’ve skipped it. I wished I had skipped it. My cover didn’t have a the “Perfect for fans of “Big Little Lies” but if it did, I would disagree. This book isn’t awful, it just isn’t that great.
It’s Hannah’s 16th birthday and her mother Kim is prepping for her sleepover. Everything has to be perfect, because in Kim’s life, everything is perfect–you know except for the fact that her husband is microdosing LSD, she’s drinking too much and having an affair, and Hannah is planning on drinking at her party tonight with her girlfriends. Cool dad Jeff even supplies a bottle of pink champagne, because everyone loves a cool dad (note to self: remind husband not to be a cool dad for the love of all that’s holy). Kim drinks some wine and takes just a half of an Ativan to get to sleep and not be disturbed by four giggling girls in the basement, so imagine her terror when Hannah wakes her in the middle of the night drunk and covered in blood. DUN, DUN, DUN…
Now the above paragraph sounds interesting as hell, I know, that’s what roped me in too. However, the majority of the story focuses on the parents’ crumbling marriage, the moms being vindictive and good parents failing their children at the time where clearly they need them the most (which just seemed totally out of character). I was a little at a loss at first about the Megan Abbott comparison. If you haven’t read any of her books they tend to have very manipulative, competitive teenage female characters, most with borderline personality disorders and always a demonstration of the teenage female friendship cliques. It wasn’t long until I found the comparison to be pretty apt although the character of Lauren seems way more Lifetime: Movies for Women than Megan Abbott who develops these horrible characters in a way that even though we know they are murderous and wrong, we can still understand why they tick the way that they do.
Long story short, if you want to read a book about people obsessed with appearances who are clearly falling apart from the stress of it, this is the book for you. If you are surrounded by people like this (like I am), avoid it because it’s exhausting enough dealing with the real bullshit, you don’t really need the fictionalized account of it.