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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An engrossing and ultimately disturbing novel
The focus of this novel is a group of disturbed young teenagers, who, in the late 70s, shared some months together in a progressive adolescent psychiatric center known as "The Unit." There is Simon, an awkward young man tormented by a horrible mother; Danny, a surprisingly charming teenaged rapist; Carrie, a hardened beauty with a sexual abuse history; Alex, a highly...
Published on February 26, 2005 by doctor_beth

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Complex and confusing
The debut novel by journalist Sue Walker is convoluted and gritty story about disturbed misfits. Twenty six years after release from the mental hospital, former patients are misteriously dying.
Ms. Walker uses many times seen, uneasy mix of past and present. It is hard to qualify this book as mystery, it is more a fiction about crimes commited.
"The Reunion" is...
Published on July 12, 2010 by Srdjan Pesic


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An engrossing and ultimately disturbing novel, February 26, 2005
This review is from: The Reunion: A Novel (Hardcover)
The focus of this novel is a group of disturbed young teenagers, who, in the late 70s, shared some months together in a progressive adolescent psychiatric center known as "The Unit." There is Simon, an awkward young man tormented by a horrible mother; Danny, a surprisingly charming teenaged rapist; Carrie, a hardened beauty with a sexual abuse history; Alex, a highly disturbed, androgynous young woman with violent tendencies; Lydia, a grossy overweight teen with a history of arson; Isabella, seemingly normal but with a completely dysfunctional family; and finally, Innes, the newest patient admitted to the dynamic. Twenty-seven years later, an out-of-the-blue phone message from Isabella to Innes sets off a chain reaction to uncover horrifying untold details about the shared past of this ecclectic group.

First time author Sue Walker has created an engrossing mystery surrounding The Unit, allluding to a horror at which the reader can only begin to guess. However, her frequent shifts in both narrative voice and time--e.g., switching between the 1970s and present-day--are somewhat choppy and a bit disorienting at times. In addition, it is not clear why she chose to concentrate on certain characters while others, like Carrie (a major player in The Unit's disasterous events), fade quickly into the background. Finally, as other reviwers have mentioned, Walker fails to provide sufficient insight into the psychiatic disturbances of her young characters to fully explain both their conduct as both children and adults. Still, this is an original, interesting story that is worth reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A touch of evil., October 9, 2004
This review is from: The Reunion: A Novel (Hardcover)
"The Reunion," a thriller by Sue Walker, focuses on a group of adolescents who are sent to "The Unit," a progressive psychiatric hospital outside of Edinburgh. The inmates are given a great deal of freedom, considering that their mental problems are quite severe. The goal of this facility is to reach these troubled teens and send them out into the world as potentially productive individuals. Twenty-six years pass, and one by one, members of the Unit are dying, apparently by suicide, accident, or murder. What is the connection between these seemingly unrelated deaths?

Sue Walker has written an impressive debut novel that is an exciting and engrossing page-turner. The author vividly portrays the troubled teens on the Unit, including Danny, a rapist at fourteen, Carrie, a drug-addict who was abused at home, Innes, a shoplifting truant who acts out to punish her overbearing mother, and Alex, a foul-mouthed and aggressive bully. The scenes in the mental hospital are stark and brutal. Walker captures the despair and anger that cause these young people to act destructively.

These flashback scenes are much more effective than the scenes that take place in the present. Walker dizzyingly moves from one character to another, showing us what has happened to them in the last two and a half decades. In some cases, the disturbed teens grow up to become well-paid professionals, but, even as adults, they still have nightmares that never die.

The weakest part of the book is the over-the-top ending, in which Walker crams too many melodramatic, unbelievable and violent events into a few pages. The author reveals a "secret" that most attentive readers will have figured out for themselves long before. Still, Walker gets high marks for her powerful and disturbing scenes in the Unit, and I look forward to more work from this talented writer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A page turner, December 2, 2004
This review is from: The Reunion: A Novel (Hardcover)
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel, it was a real page turner (had a few unintentionally long lunches at work as I was too engrossed to stop reading).It is a dark tale v. well told. I think this is a great debut novel and look forward to the next.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intense!, January 3, 2006
This review is from: The Reunion: A Novel (Paperback)
Innes Haldane listens to her answering machine and is horrified to hear a desperate message from Isabella "Abby" Velasco. Back in 1977, when Innes was only fifteen-years-old, she resided in an adolescent psychiatric unit in Edinburgh, known only as "The Unit". The Unit dealt with the most troubled of teens. Some of the teens were there for mental problems, others for violence. It was a dark time and place that Innes had forced herself to forget.

Innes never returned Abby's call and later learns that Abby died, apparently a suicide. Then others Innes knew from The Unit turns up dead or worse. Innes feels compelled to look into Abby's death and see if something more sinister is going on ... and if she could be next on someone's hit list.

***** Sue Walker pens a dark and twisted psychological thriller that will keep you reading as quickly as you possibly can. I stayed up very late, promising myself that I would only read a few more pages, only to glance up at the clock to see another hour has past. Very intense! *****

Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Fast-Paced Mystery/Thriller, September 28, 2004
By 
Erika Sorocco (Southern California, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Reunion: A Novel (Hardcover)
Innes Haldane was a mere fifteen-years-old when she was admitted to The Unit, a home for teens coping with dysfunctional behavior problems, while highly intelligent at the same time. The Unit, was an experimental home located in the outskirts of Edinburgh, and it was home for exactly one year for Innes, for she met four other teenagers who changed her life during her stay there, as well. Alex Baxendale, an aggressive teen; Isabella Velasco, a beautiful teen; Danny Rintoul, a child rapist; and Simon Calder, who was as studious as he was shy. Sure, they all went their own ways after a year, but that year has created some serious problems for the five of them. For now, more than twenty-years later, a killer is after the five of them, stalking and striking them one at a time. Now, the remaining survivors are forced to come together to confront the terrible secret that has been kept between them for these twenty some-odd years, in the hopes that it will save them, as opposed to destroy them.

Sue Walker has done an amazing job with THE REUNION. The dialogue is fast-paced, and extremely quick-moving, while at the same time easy to understand and follow. The characters are intelligent, and thought-provoking, as is their witty commentary. Fans of psychological thrillers will be taken on an exciting thrill-ride that will have them gripping the edge of their seat, while fiercely turning the pages to find out what could possibly happen next. With riveting twists and turns on every page, this is an absolute must-have.

Erika Sorocco

Book Review Columnist for The Community Bugle Newspaper
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3.0 out of 5 stars Complex and confusing, July 12, 2010
By 
Srdjan Pesic (Minneapolis, Mn United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Reunion: A Novel (Hardcover)
The debut novel by journalist Sue Walker is convoluted and gritty story about disturbed misfits. Twenty six years after release from the mental hospital, former patients are misteriously dying.
Ms. Walker uses many times seen, uneasy mix of past and present. It is hard to qualify this book as mystery, it is more a fiction about crimes commited.
"The Reunion" is a well written novel, but with beginners mistakes. The constant leaping from past to present and the other way around, adds to the confusion. Even if we hear a lot of details about characters, they are still strangers to us. Maybe because they seem quite artificial and plastic. Interesting but flawed book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing, but ultimately unsatisfying, November 9, 2004
This review is from: The Reunion: A Novel (Hardcover)
This book definitely kept my attention until the very end, but when it was over I was left with many unanswered questions. The author does not spend any time at all delving into the problems that got the teens into the Unit in the first place. I kept waiting for her to get more in depth with the characters, but it never happened. Having said that, the plot was very interesting and I couldn't put the book down.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, December 21, 2011
This review is from: The Reunion: A Novel (Paperback)
The Reunion is unpredictable and intriguing. The plot, which jumps back and forth in time, is quite complex. The writing is gripping and easy to read, the characters engaging and realistic. This book will have you thinking long after you are finished reading.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What happens here doesn't stay here, October 18, 2004
This review is from: The Reunion: A Novel (Hardcover)
What could be more dangerous than keeping seven troubled teens cooped up at a psychiatric unit? Taking those same teens on a camping trip with minmal supervision. That outing haunts their lives forever.

This book opens in the present time, many years after that outing in 1977. And the personal scars of that event are explored through the now-adult lives of those teens.

Author Sue Walker spins her tale slowly. She tells her story through the eyes of several of the teen-cum-adults. She does a masterful job of capturing their despair, anxiety and fears concerning their troubled pasts. But often her transtion from the thoughts and dialogues of one character to another are not delineated clearly enough ; and the characters' voices are not distinct enough for the reader to know exactly which character is the focal point at all times.

That said, Walker does an excellent job of keeping vital pieces of the story hidden until the end. There is a strong sense that the stories of the characters will progress to a denouement and there is none of the formulaic gradual exposure of clues to the the crime that is becoming trite in modern novels. This is a big plus. But when one character, by rambling dialogue, lays out the answers to all of the reader's questions, it is a big negative.

This is not a bad book. It is well-written and does carry its plot nicely. But it is also not a great book. The suspenseful promise presented by at the beginning my this review is muffled by slow pacing is slow and vagueness that hampers impact. This is what "mediocre" reads like.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Predictable and banal, April 18, 2005
By 
This review is from: The Reunion: A Novel (Hardcover)
This was one of the worst books I've ever read, and undeserving of anything even vaguely resembling a star. In fact, I'm only reviewing it in the hopes of saving some poor, unsuspecting customer some money.

At the outset, I note that the chapters jump back and forth in time, which can sometimes be a clever device - with a plot that justifies it - but which, in this case, is an artifice that is used simply to disguise the lack of plot. The constant over-the-top references to the too-terrible-to-be-revealed crime committed (which, incidently, is telegraphed within the first few chapters) are incredibly annoying. For this reason, the revelation of that crime is an anti-climax. One cannot help being revolted, of course, because it is a crime that occurs in real life all too often. It seemed as though the most heinous possible crime was chosen, perhaps to distract from the poor writing in which it was couched.

Equally tiresome are the author's broad hints that these perpetrators of the unspeakable are somehow not responsible for their crimes because they are victims themselves. Particularly nauseating are her constant references to a serial rapist basically being a 'good man' at heart.

In that vein, this book does a real disservice to bright, troubled teens by implying that nearly all of them are actually sociopaths, and then seems to try to make some sort of feeble reparation for that stance by - again implying - that if they are sociopaths, it's their parents' fault. The fact that these veiled assertions are made in the context of residential psychotherapeutic treatment is apparently the means by which the writer attempts to gives authority to these simplistic viewpoints.

I received this book as a farewell gift from my former co-workers and wish that they had not wasted their money. My advice is that if you feel compelled to read this book, and your library has it in stock, borrow it for free.
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The Reunion
The Reunion by Sue Walker (Paperback - May 26, 2005)
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