I enjoyed Jennie Hansen's new novel, “Shudder”. I appreciated the way it approached abuse on the dating scene and pointed out that even nice guys can become violent — I hope young women read this novel and see that there's more to choosing their dates than the RM card. I found this book to be an exciting, gripping read. I've always enjoyed Jennie's novels and will add this one to my Jennie shelf. — Traci Pinkston, Book Reviewer
Darcy and Clare grew up as best friends, sharing trials and triumphs from preschool through college graduation. Now they’re sharing an apartment in Boise, Idaho, where Clare just landed a great job and Darcy is pursuing a teaching certificate. There’s only one problem: Blaine, Clare’s boyfriend. His chauvinistic, know-it-all ways set Darcy’s teeth on edge. Darcy vows not to let Blaine ruin her lifelong friendship with Clare, but when Blaine insists on moving in, Darcy suddenly finds herself alone.
The estranged friends forge ahead on seemingly separate paths. Engaged to Blaine, Clare becomes trapped in ugly family politics and vicious treatment from her fiancé. Darcy finds a temporary home with Karlene, an accident victim seeking live-in help, but a twisted plot soon threatens their safety. Clare’s wedding briefly reunites her with Darcy, yet the friends have never been farther apart. And when Clare finds herself in mortal peril and finally calls on Darcy to help, it might be too late.
Once again, Jennie Hansen proves herself to be the LDS mistress of the plot. Plots seem to flow from her endlessly and seamlessly. One imagines her just going into a semi-zen state and having the perfect plot, twists and all emerge from her computer. Shudder is a perfect example, with the complex relationships that reign over Boise politics detailed and tangled. This is a book for those who enjoyed a fast-paced read.
But it is also something more. Jennie has put her whole heart into this book which is also about spousal abuse. Her understanding of the abuse, its roots and its course through a relationship ring completely true. I'm sure she hopes that her book will sing a warning bell to those in potentially abusive relationships by illustrating the escalating stages. Hopefully, it will also enable those in such relationships to realize they are not alone, not to blame, and that help is available.
I would have liked to see a little more character development which could be because I favor character development over straight action. Also in a few places the dialogue sounded like a pre-recorded speech.
However, this book will be an exciting addition to the collections of her fans, of whom she has many!
Shudder, by Jennie Hansen, is a multi-faceted book; it's a suspenseful thriller, but it also features abuse in a very big way, along with friendship and romance. The two main characters, Darcy and Clare, grew up together and now share an apartment, but while Darcy was always surrounded by a large and loving family, Clare only had an ill, demanding mother who later died. When Blaine, a young attorney, came into her life, she was flattered by his self-confident personality and relieved to let him take over much of the load of responsibility she had carried around by herself for many years. But Blaine's personality can also be described as "forceful", and the book opens with Clare coming home from a date with a broken wrist which he caused. Darcy becomes even more suspicious of Blaine; she's never liked him, but now she sees what Clare cannot, that he's abusing her friend both physically and mentally.
The story contains many threads which are skillfully intertwined; the thrills, spills and romance of Darcy's storyline are a good balance to the increasingly abusive behavior of Blaine towards Clare. The pacing is fast, but not break-neck, and there's always something that will keep the reader turning the pages to see what happens next. Along the way, we discover much about the behavioral patterns of abusers, which is carefully woven into the story. The reader is shown what Clare is thinking and feeling, and how she doesn't recognize her relationship with Blaine for what it really is. Clare is so in love, for instance, that it never occurs to her that Blaine deliberately hid her cell phone; she thinks she herself slipped it into his briefcase by accident. She believes that he's truly too busy to add her name to their "joint" account, and she even takes the blame for many of his aggressive outbursts, chiding herself for not avoiding his triggers. Jennie Hansen shows us enough of Blaine's unhappy family background that we could approximate an understanding as to why he acts the way he acts, although I'm sure that abuse is much more complicated than we can ever know. The best parts of the book, however, show the theme of friendship, especially how Darcy doesn't give up on Clare despite the handicaps that Blaine throws (sometimes literally) in her way.
The book could be preachy, but it's not; it's entertaining and suspenseful right up to the end, with lots of good action scenes and two delightful romances. The scene with the snowmobile and the chase at the beach were particularly tense. And while a spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down, this book is not just syrupy sweetness overcompensating for a bitter pill. The message isn't completely disguised – it's not supposed to be – but it is divided into small, easily digestible portions and wrapped up in a hearty, satisfying meal that will make you glad you ate the whole thing. In a word: excellent.
A gripping story that deals with an abused woman and her friend that tries to help her.