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Dismantled by Jennifer McMahon

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Tess, Henry and their daughter Emma live a comfortable life in a small community. By all appearances, they are a happy couple. Emma seems to have a touch of OCD, but she is getting by and has a best friend at school. A troubled past lurks beneath the surface, though, and it is about to change all their lives forever.

Ten years in the past, Tess and Henry were part of a small group of college students calling itself the Compassionate Dismantlers. Led by a charismatic student named Suz, the Dismantlers lived by their credo that true art and understanding is achieved by taking a thing apart, dismantling it, destroying it. The Compassionate Dismantlers were responsible for acts of vandalism and destruction in the community, with only a thin veneer of social activism as justification. Gradually, the group began to go too far, until one day the results were irrevocable and deadly.

As the original group members are drawn by a mysterious summons back to the scene of their worst tragedy, they struggle to come to grips with what is happening. Has someone come back from the dead to exact revenge? Is someone who knows their secret toying with them? How does young Emma seem to know about things from her parents' hidden past?

I recommend this book, with some reservations. The first chapter is overwritten, trying too hard, all atmospherics and imagery. I almost gave up on the book before I ever finished the chapter. The narrative improves from there, though, and after a while, I was hooked. As you read, you'll wonder: is this a ghost story? A supernatural thriller? A mystery with very human and explicable answers? You'll want answers; this is a real page-turner.

By the time I reached the end, my feelings were a little lukewarm.
All the characters are unlikeable, with the possible exception of young Emma. You will despise them all for their weakness, meanness or dishonesty. Also, the author tends to repeat certain words over and over. For instance, when characters feel threatened, they "stiffen." Over and over again, until the word choice takes you out of the moment. More important, the final chapters of the book have to work a bit too hard to give the reader some answers, and there is an unfortunate reliance upon a left-field revelation that just felt too easy. (I can't better explain this without making this a spoiler!)

I do recommend this book for its page-turning, creepy tale. Despite my criticisms of Dismantled, I did enjoy it overall, and I would read another book by McMahon.
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  ksimon | Feb 6, 2014 |
Very out there from what I am used to reading. It flowed nice and had some nice twists and turns. Not an easy to figure out 'who done it'.
The cast of characters is small and each are interesting with new levels of depth added as the story goes on.
I am finding this type of writing exciting at times. Not sure what genre it is considered, I put it under suspense.
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  Strawberryga | Dec 28, 2013 |

Extraordinarily reminiscent of Donna Tarrt's The Secret History, this sees a group of people ten years after they were a college clique called The Dismantlers, whose ethos was that "to understand the nature of a thing it must be taken apart". The end point of their destructive pranks was the semi-accidental murder of the instigator of The Dismantlers' exploits, Suz, the promiscuos star around which the others orbited, reflecting her light. At the time, the death was adroitly concealed from the world; now, though, various enigmatic parties seem determined to dig up the truth, and one of them could well be an impossibly reanimated Suz. This is by no means a bad book -- especially when it focuses on Emma, the 9-year-old child of two of the original Dismantlers -- and overall I enjoyed reading it. The writing was good enough that I might well look out for McMahon books in future. It's just that this one seemed to have nothing much new to say.
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  JohnGrant1 | Aug 11, 2013 |
Story line ridiculous and extremely unlikely. ( )
  Beecharmer | Jul 17, 2013 |
Not as good as I'd hoped it would be according to reviews.The story is told by different people and i can understand if people find it confusing. It is my opinion that it was all a bit far fetched not really logical. Read this book in Germany while on vacation with family. ( )
  Marlene-NL | Apr 12, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
McMahon has constructed an intricate back story for the strange behavior of the 9-year-old Emma DeForge, who seems to have channeled Suz’s spirit as an imaginary friend she calls Danner. But for all the story’s spooky trappings, it’s ultimately about Emma’s unhappiness at her parents’ very real separation.
 
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A decade after covering up a friend's death during a prank in the Vermont woods, Henry and Tess are tormented by the secret, the suicide of another member of their group, and a chain of events that threatens their life with their young daughter.

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