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A Reader of Fictions: Review: The Murmurings

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Monday, March 25, 2013

Review: The Murmurings

The Murmurings

Author: Carly Anne West
Pages: 384
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: March 5, 2013
Source: For review from Simon & Schuster via YA Books Central

Description from Goodreads:
A teen girl starts hearing the same voices that drove her sister to commit suicide in this creepy, suspenseful novel.

Everyone thinks Sophie’s sister, Nell, went crazy. After all, she heard strange voices that drove her to commit suicide. But Sophie doesn’t believe that Nell would take her own life, and she’s convinced that Nell’s doctor knows more than he’s letting on.

As Sophie starts to piece together Nell’s last days, every lead ends in a web of lies. And the deeper Sophie digs, the more danger she’s in—because now she’s hearing the same haunting whispers. Sophie’s starting to think she’s going crazy too. Or worse, that maybe she’s not….


First Sentence: "I'm supposed to wonder why Gregor Samsa is a cockroach."

Review:
It's pretty safe to say from the reviews that have already come out and from what my own expectations were that The Murmurings is not the book most readers will be expecting. The cover and the blurb suggest and incredibly eerie, horror-filled read, but that really isn't how West's debut is. In fact, The Murmurings is largely a slower-paced contemporary on the nature of insanity, with a bit of horror and paranormal towards the end.

The best part of The Murmurings is the writing. West achieves a sort of distance in Sophie's narration that perfectly suits her mental state and desire to keep herself apart from everyone. Below that frosty surface, you also get a sense of how open Sophie probably used to be. Both the contemplative and faster-paced scenes during the climax scenes are well-handled.

The concept of the murmurings creeps me out for sure. Sophie's sister Nell was put into a mental institution because she heard voices and saw weird things in the mirror. Nell ended up escaping with one of the orderlies, but then is found dead in a nearby town, hanging upside down. Sophie has started hearing the murmurs too, and Dr. Keller of Oakside, the mental hospital, keeps calling to talk to Sophie's mom. West sets up a seriously creepy concept and makes you curious to find out what's going on at Oakside.

The mental hospital has a sort of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Vibe. The workers are all horribly creepy and rude, obviously uninterested in the rehabilitation of the patients. They give out drugs to make the patients pliable and run painful experiments. It's like only Nurse Ratched works at this place. Other than the fact that it seems to be really easy for patients to sneak out of their rooms, the mental hospital was sufficiently creepy and upsetting.

Sadly, I feel like the paranormal elements could have been a bit better-explained. I'm still not entirely certain what was going on, especially why victims ended up hanging upside down in impossible positions. Creepy? Most definitely. However, it leaves me with a lot of questions. Of course, I suppose all of it could be in Sophie's mind as she sits, drugged, in the mental hospital...

If you're looking for a gruesome, terrifying, fast-paced read, you might want to look elsewhere, but, if you like atmospheric novels and can deal with a slower pace, I would recommend The Murmurings.

Rating: 3/5

Favorite Quote:
"He said there's a chance.
I say, What's the point?
He points to me.
"

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15 Comments:

Blogger Faye M. said...

I agree on the Paranormal elements. Actually, I was hoping there were no Paranormal elements at all. It felt as it it really went against the book's contemporary vibes that filled, like, what, 60% of the book? Maybe I'd have appreciated it better if there were plausible explanations...

Awesome review as usual :)

March 25, 2013 at 3:45 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, I'm generally not a fan when a book makes a sudden turn like this. I like the book to show it's stripes right off, because you often get comfortable with what it was doing, and the change generally makes things worse.

March 25, 2013 at 9:58 AM  
Blogger Ashley @ The Bibliophile's Corner said...

I think I still want to read this one. I think knowing before going into it that all the paranormal is toward the end, that I won't be taken by surprise.

Great review!

March 25, 2013 at 12:17 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Normally I wouldn't tell about the twist like that, but I think it's something better known than not. Forewarned is forearmed in this case.

March 25, 2013 at 12:36 PM  
Blogger Dragana Mitrovic said...

Love that first sentence. It really got me intrigued. :D I love to read books with mental hospital setting, I don't know but I guess I love all the quirky and crazy characters we get to meet that way.
But I hate it when paranormal elements are left unexplained. My OCD hates loose ends. LOL. I think I am going to skip it for now.

March 25, 2013 at 4:55 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

There are definitely some loose ends. It was interesting, but I mostly just feel like it could have been so much more. :/

March 25, 2013 at 4:56 PM  
Blogger Kayla Beck said...

*sigh* I'm so glad that you reviewed this. I think this is coming off of my TBR now. :-(

March 25, 2013 at 5:03 PM  
Blogger Dragana Mitrovic said...

I hate it when they do that - in books and movies. Especially since my husband always to my outrage shrugs and say: "They don't have to explain everything. Use your imagination." How should I know what they meant? I'm not a mind reader. :/
And it's always so sad when you read a book that could have been so much more... Well, at least you saved me from frustration. :)

March 25, 2013 at 5:04 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I mean, there are points where suspension of disbelief and imagination are needed, and there are times where the storyteller hasn't done the work. It's a question of whether it feels like the story has internal logic or not. I'm not convinced this does.

For example, LOST. They didn't know what was going on, so they never explained it and wrote a cop-out ending. NOT COOL.

March 25, 2013 at 5:36 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

It happens. :/

March 25, 2013 at 5:36 PM  
Blogger fakesteph said...

I've been part way through this one for a while and it definitely was not what I was expecting.

March 25, 2013 at 6:51 PM  
Blogger Renae M. said...

It's a definite shame that this didn't turn out to be what everyone was expecting. I think that maybe, now that I know what I'll be in for, I can read this and still enjoy it. Weird mental hospital with, distant narrator, slow pace—all things I'm prone to enjoy.

March 25, 2013 at 9:45 PM  
Blogger Stephanie Sinclair said...

Aww, I was looking forward to the more creepier elements, which is a surprise for me since I scare easily. I still might check this one out whenever I start reading ebooks. >.<

March 26, 2013 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger Dragana Mitrovic said...

Yes, I just finished watching Lost because friend convinced me that it was all resolved in the end. I was so disappointed - just like you said major cop-out.
Almost like Stephen King and his Dark Tower series. For 7 books they travel to reach that tower (which is the center of everything blah blah blah) and then in the end - major let down. I love that series but the ending annoys me whenever I remember how Stephen King chicken out in the end...

March 26, 2013 at 10:20 AM  
Blogger Maja (The Nocturnal Library) said...

I had such a great feeling about this one, but I truly did expect it to be creepy. Unfortunately, based on the reviews I've read (including yours) I might have to alter my expectations a little bit, but I think I'll still read it, of only for the beautiful writing.
Lovely review, Christina!

March 26, 2013 at 11:49 AM  

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