The Half Life of Molly Pierce
by Katrina Leno
Expected Publication Date: July 8, 2014
Length: 256 pages
Source: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This is no way influenced my final opinion of the work.
Format Read In: E-ARC
View from the Traffic Light:
You take it for granted. Waking up. Going to school, talking to your friends. Watching a show on television or reading a book or going out to lunch.
You take for granted going to sleep at night, getting up the next day, and remembering everything that happened to you before you closed your eyes.
You live and you remember.
Me, I live and I forget.
But now—now I am remembering.
For all of her seventeen years, Molly feels like she’s missed bits and pieces of her life. Now, she’s figuring out why. Now, she’s remembering her own secrets. And in doing so, Molly uncovers the separate life she seems to have led…and the love that she can’t let go.
The Half Life of Molly Pierce is a suspenseful, evocative psychological mystery about uncovering the secrets of our pasts, facing the unknowns of our futures, and accepting our whole selves.
My first thought upon finishing The Half Life of Molly Pierce was “well, I feel entirely indifferent to that book”, until I realized I wasn’t quite indifferent. Instead, I had some issues with The Half Life of Molly Pierce. It should be noted I considered putting this book at about halfway through, but it was so short that I decided I might as well see it through to the end and see if it picked up any. Short answer: it did not.
The first issue I had with The Half Life of Molly Pierce was the writing. Over the first few chapters, I thought the disjointed writing was a way to showcase Molly’s mental state, a writing decision I typically have a lot of respect for when done right(like Juliette’s strike-throughs in the Shatter Me trilogy), and I assumed the writing would ebb and flow with Molly throughout the course of the book. Instead, it stayed static the entire time. It also was heavy on the telling. There would be pages of “I walked through the lunch line. I grabbed an apple. I sat down with my friends.” Here’s an example:
“I shower. My mother’s left a note on the counter downstairs. Text her if I need anything. Let her know if I decide to stay home or go to school. She’s left my car keys next to the note. I have a bowl of cereal and grab a jacket. I can tell it’s cold outside. There’s a breeze and the sky is blue and the clouds are moving fast.
“My backpack is by the door and I find myself hoping that sometime during the hours I can’t remember, I managed to do some homework.
Not that it matters now.
My teachers are used to half-completed assignments from me.
They sort of accept it, at this point.”
This rather uninspired train of thought continues on for three more pages, by the way. Of course, this quote is taken from the advanced reader’s copy and is subject to change, but it’s indicative of the type of writing that is present throughout and feels alienating. Everything is told, told, told, including details that aren’t necessary(see that first paragraph). It’s tedious.
Then there’s Molly Pierce herself. Would you like me to describe her? I can’t, because in all these pages of telling and telling and telling, it was impossible to get a grasp on the characters. I know that she has associative identity disorder, that she witnessed an accident(in the first chapter), and she’s trying to unravel the clues to her life. That’s all. I don’t know anything about her personality, except that she says “maybe” a lot and goes to school and leaves school early often. I know she was depressed. I don’t know if she’s kind or smart or funny(well, I’m pretty sure I can check that last one off, but you get the idea). She’s a blank slate. I should know more about a character with a mental disorder than just his or her disorder. People are not their conditions. Which is not to say that those conditions can’t be overwhelming and debilitating to the point where it seems people are those things and only those things, but underneath there has to be something more. At some point in the book, I should get a feel for who Molly is, and I never did.
That characterization extends to the side characters as well. I know so little about any of them, who they are, what they like. There are a few who get more development than most, but on average they’re all just stagnant props for Molly’s journey of self-discovery. Everything is so far-fetched and while I’m not an expert on associative identity disorder by any means, seems way unlikely from what I do know. The Half Life of Molly Pierce had the opportunity to be an intriguing book about an interesting–and frightening mental disorder. Instead, it went for the cheap and easy ideas, turning Molly into nothing but her problems and not letting the readers see any development at all.
The Half Life of Molly Pierce had an intriguing premise, but never really got off the ground. The “telling” writing style was disjointing and made me feel isolated from what was going on in the book, and I also had issues with the characterization, a problem in a character-heavy novel. While I think Dissociative Identity Disorder is worth exploring, there are books that have done it better with more finesse. 1/5 cupcakes.