Book Reviews

Killer Potential by Aften Brook Szymanski – Book Review

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“I’m afraid of other people’s problems–their lives behind the scenes. All the things they hide, like the foster kids. Everyone looks normal, but how many are monsters in regular person’s skin?”

It took me months to get through this very short novel. The reason for that is that it was pretty senseless.

The story started off moderately well. It’s told from Yvette’s perspective, a teenage girl in a psych ward suspected of a murder, switching from the present to the past every chapter. I was entertained and a bit intrigued at first. I wasn’t really sure where the story was going, but I don’t really mind slow-paced stories when there are good characters. However, this one was a slow story with a cast full of dull, flat characters.

The main character was the most obnoxious piece of work I’ve ever read about. She never did anything that made sense and although she was aware of it, she still didn’t change for the better. And I get that the point of the story is that she has “killer potential.” She’s a messed up character who has been so damaged growing up that she just wants revenge. But come on, she was such a whiny stupid girl. She accomplished absolutely nothing.

There were so many uncomfortable scenes where abuse was hinted at but nothing was ever done about it. The main character witnessed so many different instances of bad stuff happening to others, but she did nothing to report it or anything. Maybe that was used to prove why she was so tormented, but it was overly done. I wasn’t sure why I had to read about these things if there wasn’t a point to it. It just made me feel sick to my stomach.

The characters were all cardboard cutouts. They weren’t only unlikable, they were defined by maybe one trait, at the most. The Party Girl, the Neglectful Dad, the Drugged Out Mom, the Creepy Guy, the Other Creepy Guy, the Wild Sister. I mean, that’s it. These people had no personality whatsoever, and they served no purpose at all. Yvette constantly thought about how much she cared for her younger brother, but she hardly interacted with him. I had no idea who he was. The bad guys are bad for the sake of being bad, and that’s it. No other reason behind it. And basically, everyone in this book could technically have “killer potential.”

My biggest issue was the plausibility throughout the story. There were things that just sounded odd and completely threw me off of the story. At one point, this sheriff finds Yvette at school right when she gets into a fight with Adam (some random guy who showed up out of nowhere near the end of the book, but ended up being super significant for some reason). Anyway, a few scenes later, Yvette is taking a test to see if she can go to college, and Adam is there, and the same sheriff is administering the test. Because that makes perfect sense. Also, just the entire college thing was so annoying. Not only does Yvette spend page after page describing each of her classes, she also discusses each of her assignments and projects in depth. I’ve never before had to read through so many details (wrong details, at that) of college life. I’m in college at the moment, so trust me, this was not necessary at all. Nobody goes into a fiction book about a potential killer expecting to learn all the details about her school life.

I’m sure all of those boring details were added to fill in the plot gap. There wasn’t much of a plot, if any. Yvette’s life sucked, and then there was a crime. That’s it. There wasn’t even much of a mystery over the crime committed. I took absolutely nothing away from the story or the characters.

There were many times where I was ready to give up on this book, but I pushed through it. I wanted so desperately to find a motive in the story, but I found nothing worthwhile. But since I did finish it, I can’t say I hated it. I’m sure other people could enjoy the unnecessary violence and college trivia, but it just wasn’t for me.


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