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on June 28, 2010
Where to begin??? I can't believe that a handful of professional critics offered any praise at all for this drivel... I guess that fact alone says all that needs to be said about the state (and honesty) of book reviews in today's press... But I digress. "One of the brightest new stars of literary suspense" -- LA Times. Puh-Lease...

For starters, there are more than a few plot and factual inconsistencies and errors. Take the wooden moose 'sculpture' for example. It is made entirely of wood and stands 6' tall at the shoulder. Yet, somehow, 4 college kids fit it into the back of a regular van and drive it around. WHAT??? In what world does that make any sense? And then (spoiler alert if you are a masochist and read this book), to top it all off, those meddling kids put this same 6' tall wooden moose in a canoe with two people and row it out onto a lake! Really?!?! Are you kidding me?!?! SCOOBY-DOO, where are you??? I have to admit that I did almost enjoy the belly laugh that I got from that scene -- two people in a canoe with a 6' moose paddling around... that is funny stuff right there. I would hazard to guess the author has never been in a real canoe... nor could pick one out of a line-up. They are actually narrow, unstable crafts... and the ones carved from actual trees sink very easily.

And then there is the sophmoric writing style... the often maligned "It was a dark and stormy night..." now has a rival in "He pushes the button on his key chain to unlock the truck... The truck beeps its mechanical hello." Again, REALLY?!?!? 'Mechanical Hello'? LOL.

Finally, the author commits the most cursed, lazy, and cheap trick in the (ahem) book... SHE INTRODUCES A NEW CHARACTER IN THE LAST 5 PAGES OF THE BOOK! Hello...!!! This is known as 'Cardinal Sin NUMERO UNO' among mystery writers and fans alike. My 6-year-old could write a mystery/suspense/literary thriller if given this kind of license. Utter crap. Luckily I bought this book at a real store that will buy it back. I feel soiled for having touched it.
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on February 24, 2012
I'm not going to re-hash the plot, as others have already kindly delineated it all before me :)

The best part of the story, for me, was the "spooky" events that happen, which you can't really be sure are either really, truly supernatural events, or if there is some logical explanation for everything. You have Emma's imaginary friend Danner, which gets creepy when Emma, inspired by her artistic parents, decides to make a life-size doll rendering of Danner. And I don't give want to give away too spoilers, but I will say that there's a twist at the end that suggests Danner's origin, which ends up being slightly creepy after all (and it was foreshadowed earlier in the book, I realized in retrospect). I had a tough time sympathizing with Suz, the brash loudmouth "leader" of the Dismantlers, and it was impossible for me to understand why a group of seemingly intelligent college kids would follow her and hold her in such high regard.

I found some parts unrealistic. Possible SPOILERS ahead, skip the starred section if you haven't read yet:

******There's no way that Henry could mistake the Danner doll for a human form wrapped to look like the doll. I realize it said Emma filled the doll with sand to make it heavy, but that still doesn't approximate the weight of a human being. No matter how out of it Henry might have been, I still think he'd be able to tell the difference. Also, I can't believe two people can row a canoe out on the lake with the big moose sculpture AND the third person wrapped in the doll inside it and have the whole thing stay afloat. That's terribly unrealistic! And it was a little too convenient to throw in the unknown mystery character at the very end. If there was a going to be a mystery character, it should have been hinted at previously in the book. Throwing it in right at the end is kind of a cop out.******

All in all, it's not a bad read. To be fair, I did keep reading to find out what happened next. It DOES make you do that. But it's definitely not something I'd consider a spectacular piece of suspense or fiction.
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VINE VOICEon September 21, 2010
This is the third book I have read by this author, and I have enjoyed them all very much. This latest work tells of four college friends who form a `society" to "dismantle" things with which they do not agree, including an annoying college professor. The book takes place in the present day, but there are flashbacks to a time 10 years previously when Suz, one of the group, supposedly died and was put into a lake to hide her body.

The present then concentrates on two of the remaining members, who are married to each other and have a 9 year old named Emma. Now Emma is a very odd child, with a fixation on the number 9 and also the painting of a moose named Francis. She puts the plot in gear by sending postcards to all of the society members (she doesn't realize that Suz is supposed to be dead), in the hope that if they all get together again, possibly her parents estrangement will end. Best laid plans, however...

Excitement builds as a series of strange happenings occur, and Emma's invisible friend appears to be the source of most of them. One of the other society members shows up at the old lake house which was used by the society, and where Suz was put into the lake. It also appears that Suz may not be dead after all, and might be seeking revenge against her former cohorts. Many things happen, and it wouldn't be fair to future readers to discuss them, for that would spoil the plot of an excellent book that I highly recommend, especially to those folks who have read this author's previous works.
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on October 3, 2013
As a thriller, this left something to be desired. The ending seemed like the author just wanted to wrap things up in a somewhat plausible manner.

That being said, the backend of this novel - the portrayal of how two people can fall apart. Of how a marriage falls apart. Of how a child interprets that distance between her estranged parents - that was wonderful. I loved how all of those perspectives were explored and how it lent itself to all of the misunderstandings. Very cool.
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on December 11, 2013
This was a very interesting novel. I liked this novel for several different reasons. Dismantled is about innocent teens that made a mistake when they were teens and running in a crowd that was different from the rest of the world. Jennifer wrote this book from the teens perspective and did a great job. When you are reading this novel you feel like you are a teen and then switching back to a adult throughout the novel. This was a very well planned and thought out book. I will definitely be reading more books by her. I like to read teen fiction books because it takes you back to a time when life was simpler and you were trying to figure out where you belong in the world. This book describes the feelings to a tee and has a excellent story line to follow. Warning about this book though is this book tells the story of five different people and jumps around a lot so you have to keep the story line together. I am not sure how anyone could read this book and not feel pleased with the book unless you were forced to read it or did not want to read it to begin with. The story has twists and turns, excitement, mystery, and a great ending. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Thanks
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on July 17, 2011
I just finished and loved DISMANTLED. I was hooked within the time it took me to read ten pages and the pace never let up. This is the story of four artsy college students who, on the surface, it seems are just trying to make their mark on the world and find out where they fit in. The foursome commits random acts of vandalism and elaborate pranks to protest the things they disagree with. Things quickly become very sinister and ten years later three of the four are running in circles trying to keep the secrets of their past and the death of one of their own securely buried.

There are many switches in tense, time and place within this novel. This is not a distraction at all. In fact it adds to the tension. The author uses this technique very well and I just HAD TO KEEP READING!! There are two twists at the end that I didn't see coming; I thought the ending was perfect.

I don't know why it took me so long to discover Jennifer McMahon, but I will definitely be reading her other works.
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VINE VOICEon March 29, 2013
DISMANTLED is my second Jennifer McMahon book, and all I can say is WOW! Her plotting and storytelling has me in awe. She masterfully weaves the present with the past (just as she did in THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY) in a story of a group of friends who share a tragic past. Tess, Suz, Winnie and Suz, are the Dismantlers, a group of friends whose manifesto says "to understand the nature of a thing, it must be taken apart." They spend the summer living at a lake house playing pranks and committing minor acts of vandalism. One night, they go a bit too far, and Suz dies. Ten years later, the everyone in the group receives a postcard that brings the three remaining alive back to that night, and their past comes alive to haunt them. What really happened that night? Could Suz still be alive?

So many things happened in the novel, and I hoped that McMahon could craft a solution that would both be believable and explain everything that happened. Thankfully, all the craziness is explained. The heart of the novel is a despair that Tess, Henry and Winnie can't escape: the loss of Suz and their role in it. Tess and Henry are married now, and have daughter who has an imaginary friend. Henry lives separately in the studio, and hasn't been close with his wife in years. Emma will do anything to bring her parents back together.

Through jealousy, love, betrayal and deceit, Suz is still a strong character even though she died ten years ago. Unfortunately, Henry and Tess are both incredibly weak. I understand part of it is the circumstances of the novel, but their weakness almost turns into unlikeability. For once, I would have liked one of them to take a stand on something they care about. They seem incapable of this, even on the smallest things.

It seems like a lot of novels I've read lately have concurrent story lines with the present and the past, and no one does it better than this author. The thrilling plot, the despair, the tragedy, all make this a must read.

YET, I can read a review critical of this book and agree with it too. The characters, in addition to being weak, fall for someone whacked out as Suz, they participate in petty crimes, and they publish a foolish manifesto. Not only are the characters at times unlikeable, they are about as opposite as they can be from my beliefs. But, this is a novel, and I accept that this is the author's world, the characters, while at times petty and weak, totally believe in their lives. So for me, that wasn't much of a problem.
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on May 26, 2014
Dismantled is a thrilling and intriguing read. The author is skilled at weaving the story from past and present. You never are sure which character is the true "villain", or maybe it is even all of them.
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on October 12, 2009
I devoured this book in one day and could not put it down. I have never read this author before, but if this is any indication of her work, then I am completely hooked.

The book is about a group of four art students who form a group called the Compassionate Dismantlers. Their fearless leader, Suze, encourages them to commit petty crimes and vandalize with their motto being, "To understand the nature of a thing, it must be taken apart."

The book flash forwards to ten years later and Henry & Tess, two people that were in the group, are now married and have a child together. They have been living with a secret for ten years of a prank that has gone horribly wrong and both seem haunted by the crime. It is pulling them away from their marriage and neither can seem to get over what has happened.

Their daughter is anti-social and has created an imaginary friend who is helping her to bring her parents together. She finds an old journal and pictures and sends a postcard to all of the former members of her parent's group with their motto on it.

The postcard triggers a suicide and a chain of twists and turns that are as horrifying and thrilling as any good horror movie.

The book kept me up at night until the shocking conclusion that will lead you on a crazy roller coaster.

I can't wait to read more from this author!
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on July 4, 2013
I read mysteries and and don't like schlock. I won't name any names but certain US mystery writers are touted as the "top" in mystery fiction, Bah!

Jennifer McMahon is an original, creative and intelligent writer. One of the aspects of her writing is implied supernatural goings on and surprise.I have read all of her books and this is one of my favorites.
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