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The Further Adventures of Cathy and Chris,
This review is from: If There Be Thorns (Dollanganger) (Mass Market Paperback)
The greatest lovers in the history of literature are back. When we last left Cathy and Chris they were living happily ever after in their dream house in rural California with their two sons Jory 14, and Bart 10. They also have a new adopted infant daughter Cindy. Their cover story is that Chris was the much younger brother of Cathy's late husband Dr. Paul, hence their last name is Sheffield.
But since this is VC Andrews there are troubles in paradise. Bart is a sadistic psycho who hates everyone and tortures animals. His behavior can only be attributed to mental illness since Cathy and Chris have provided a ridiculously sweet childhood for him. To make things worse, the surviving Foxworths, John and Corrine are back and the Sheffields' new next door neighbors. They entice Bart and Jory over to their house with gifts all the time corrupting them with Cathy and Chris's dark past and with tales of how noble the late Malcolm was for punishing "devil's issue" whom commit incest.
When Bart begins attacking his parents calling them "Devil's issue," they realize it's time to pay their new neighbors a visit.
The flaws: The key problem with `ITBT' is that it pales in comparison to the other Dollanganger books. While those books brought us to tears that just wouldn't stop and caused me to miss weeks of sleep, (literally) `ITBT' comes off more like a made for TV sequel with a thin plot existing only as an excuse to bring back the greatest lovers in the history of literature Cathy and Chris who fans can't get enough of. If Cathy and Chris went to an insurance seminar it would still be interesting.
The other major flaw is the villain Bart. He is a poor villain throughout the Dollanganger saga because while his actions are evil and cruel we still feel sorry for a boy who is clearly insane from birth. Also the fact that Cathy and Chris don't see him as the villain. Instead of fighting him or getting him serious help, they simply comfort him saying they love him and to please behave better. If our heroes aren't scared of him how can we be?
It is this lack of action by Cathy and Chris which impedes the drama. We can't pity them if they don't even try to help themselves. They should be getting Bart to an asylum and going postal on the Foxworths. Instead after John kidnaps Cathy, Chris simply goes next door and asks John if he's seen her. John lies and Chris simply goes home.
The shift in narration is uncalled for. For some reason Cathy is on hiatus and Jory and Bart narrate. This comes across poorly because it's hard to believe that a ten year old as insane as Bart would be able to narrate this well. It is my understanding that VC Andrews only wrote one other book narrated by a man. `ITBT' is good evidence of why.
Despite its flaws there are many good attributes to `ITBT' I feel other fans are being TOO critical. They may have been expecting a masterpiece like `FITA' or `POTW'. I went in with low expectations. Better to just think of this book as a lesser adventure for our heroes.
The main reason why I'd recommend `ITBT' is that it is one of the few books the real VC Andrews actually wrote. Her writing style is amazing. She can make paint drying seem interesting.
There is also plenty of action. Sure less happens here than in the other epic Dollanganger books but there are plenty of good confrontation scenes. For example, Madame Marisha confronting Cathy on her incestuous marriage and Cathy valiantly defending herself. Or Cathy confronting Corrine and instinctively beating her up. This is what we've wanted to do the whole series. Heroes do not even have to think what to do, if they encounter evil they attack it.
The third is that it features Cathy and Chris the characters we can't get enough of. Every aspect of their lives interests us. They've been through so much we are fascinated by their every move. Every time they so much as kiss in `ITBT' it warms our hearts that yes at last they are together. As long as their together, all the problems in the world are meaningless.
This is what `ITBT' relies so much on. Emotional flash backs to their traumatic childhoods knowing full well it will bring us to tears. While this can only be taken so far it is still very effective. For example as they sleep in bed together Cathy stirs awake, Chris comforts her, "It's OK the grandmother can't hurt us anymore." Reminding us that they are still haunted by their past and only Chris can understand and only he can protect her. Scenes like this brought me to tears to see how happy they were at last. It felt rewarding and relaxing to finally have these two together proving love can conquer all.