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Mice by Gordon Reece
by Gordon Reece

Awesome suspense!

What happens when a human decides not to be a mouse anymore?  How does violence affect an individual?  In his stunning work of suspense MICE, Gordon Reece poses these questions and more.

Shelley and her mother Elizabeth are timid, shying away from confrontation. Others take advantage of them sometimes without even thinking.  Who are they to object to the mistreatment?  Whether it be by Elizabeth's ex-husband and current boss or Shelley's lifelong friends, bullies gravitate towards them.  When pranks turns to full blown menace, Shelley and her mom scurry like mice in retreat to Honeysuckle Cottage, a hiding place far removed from others.  Finally, their idyllic surroundings provide them with a degree of safety from others.  No longer taunted by bullies, Shelley now excels in the academic work with her tutors as she prepares for her examinations.  Then, suddenly, on the night before her sixteenth birthday, everything changes.  Danger intrudes into their secure sanctuary.  In the horrifying events that follow, Shelley and her mother find themselves acting in ways they never could have imagined themselves capable.  Just how far will they go to protect themselves?

Gordon Reece's MICE is an outstanding work of psychological suspense full of crazy, unexpected twists.  Just when life seems to go smoothly, another slight wrinkle or sometimes shocking turn of events changes everything.  MICE is a book that keeps a reader glued to the pages til the very end, thoughtful after the end, and also anxious to talk about it with other readers.  Gordon Reece's excellent characterization draws the reader's inner emotional allegiance to Shelley and her mother, despite the uneasy, escalating action which troubles one's inner sense of morality.  One can't help but root for them against all odds, and yet, one feels a certain guilt in doing so as their actions become more and more questionable and these actions transform their inner character.  Gordon Reece creates nuances within the mother-daughter relationship that give dynamic depth to the characters, character who experience inner changes within themselves as the novel progresses. 

MICE is not a book for the faint of heart.  Gordon Reece does not shrink from describing difficult topics of school female-to-female bullying and violence.  MICE is also not a book for readers looking for a rigid, simplistic moral code with easy answers.  Rather, MICE is a book that will challenge readers to look within the story and themselves.  For this reason, MICE would make an excellent book club choice for book clubs anxious to discuss complex issues.  Don't get me wrong --- despite the issues discussed, MICE is a very fun book to read, not only for the edge-of-the-seat suspense but also for the sense of humor the author instills in some of the scenes.

My one word of advice is to read MICE before there is too much buzz about the book and spoilers multiply.  Even the dust jacket description says a little too much.  Fortunately, I ignored it and just plunged straight into the actual novel.  Part of the joy in reading this book is wondering in which direction the author will go next.  Gordon Reece doesn't follow the expected suspense path.  If you like a suspense different than that the run-of-the-mill formulaic narrative, MICE will delight with its surprises. Fortunately, he also does not ruin the novel with an expected ending but rather chooses an ending that opens a book up for stimulating discussion.  Awesome!

Publisher: Viking (August 18, 2011)
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Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
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