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Vapor Point Paperback – July 30, 2014
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Semper fi Top!
By shifting perspective between characters, the plot is not only propelled forward at a nice clip, it allows you get to know many of the characters very well. Jenna, the heroine, is a good woman and a soldier damaged by her experiences in battle. We get to know her as she works rebuild her life in the civilian world. Other major characters we get to know are her Uncle Ted and Morgan (the love interest), as well has a host of secondary characters. Indeed, one of Scott's strongest talents as a writer is her ability to develop characters that become real people to the reader.
One character is especially interesting and complex. This character almost, but not quite, meets the standard for a classic tragic hero, a good person, someone we can relate to but who has a fatal flaw leading to their devastating downfall. However, this character's downfall, unlike that of Othello or Oedipus, is not a tragedy.
Through her characters and their relationships Scott explores one of her favorite themes, the effect of service in the military on an individual. A core topic of the book is the exploration of the comradeship that develops among those who have served in the military. Military service creates an almost familial bond between many of the characters in the book.
Jenna's relationship with her biological family is another important element of the book. With Jenna's mother Karen, Scott effectively draws the chilling portrait of a woman so driven by self-interest that rises to the level of true evil. The fraught dynamic between Jenna and Karen is the emotional core of the book. Yes, she has a romantic interest in Morgan (he-of-the-crinkly-eyes), but the driving emotional force in the novel is Jenna's touching quest for a relationship with her mother.
Another important bond explored by Scott is that between the living and the dead. The dead in "Vapor Point" are not lounging about on clouds in heaven looking for nifty ways to help the living. No way! These dead, propelled by lives cut tragically short, ricochet through dreams wreaking nightly havoc on the living. Even with oceans of alcohol, these dead cannot be silenced. The dead seductively call to one character who, too weak to ignore them, plots revenge of the worse sort. How effectively characters deal with the dead is just as important as how they deal with the living in this book.
In conclusion, the one problem I had was that I felt that the end was a little rushed and cut short. I would have liked to have read just a little more but maybe it was just hard to say goodbye to people I got to know and respect.
Jenna is an officer of the law and a veteran with a number of problems in her life. PTSD, the death of a friend, and her overbearing, narcissistic mother. When she's not on duty, she tries to wash all of the problems away by drinking until she blacks out. After an unsavory family blowup, her uncle gives her a wakeup call. She's about to lose her job as an officer. But he sees something in her and offers to help her start over, in a new location and working under him as a deputy.
Angry at first, she is reluctant, but decides to uproot from the toxic environment and give herself a chance to recover. Moving to a new location, she finds a renewed sense of purpose and humanity. Placed with a partner, she tries to settle in and learn the lay of the land. But when a crime boss turns her partner's life upside down, and a bomber begins targeting the country, her focus on alcohol lessens and her sense of duty heightens.
I really liked this book. It's a crime novel, but the little bit of mystery that is there is revealed early on. This book is more about the characters and the development of the crimes being perpetrated. Despite the dark nature of some of the crime within this book, it's laid out in a manner that isn't graphic which makes Vapor Point readable by more people.
Though the story is more set around Jenna than anyone else, it's third person subjective and follows a handful of characters. It might sound confusing, but the author has handled the transitions in such a fluid way and it ties the characters together nicely. I found it very easy to keep track of what was going on. On top of that, each character felt real. I was enthusiastic about the natural dialogue and actions that happened throughout because I felt like it could have been a real situation, unlike scripted drama you might see on TV.
At a certain point I really picked up the pace in reading because I really wanted to know what happened next. Nearing the end of the book though I found myself wondering how everything was going to be wrapped up in the amount I had left. I did feel that things seemed a little bit rushed overall as I hit the last 20 pages, but it didn't detract from the book and won't receive a hit on rating for it because it was handled well.
I'm giving this a 5 because though it may not have started as a page turner, it was one by the end.