Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Uninvited - Tim Wynne-Jones

What do you do if you are being stalked? For 19 old year Mimi Shapiro, who has made a disastrous mistake in her love life, the answer is to flee to a small cottage owned by her father set on a snye (look it up!). But the cottage is already occupied by Jay. Mimi and Jay negotiate a living arrangement but Mimi's problems are not over as Jay is also being stalked - someone is leaving tokens and strange sounds on his computer. As the incursions into their home increase and objects are removed Mimi and Jay begin to investigate who their intruder might be.
Mimi and Jay's perspective in this novel is interspersed with that of Cramer, a school contemporary of Jay's who is coming under pressure from working two jobs and caring for his increasingly strange mother. Cramer and Mimi finally meet but just as things look like coming good for Cramer the novel reaches it's explosive climax.
All the characters that live around the house on the snye illustrate the difficulties faced by those who live outside big conurbations - lack of jobs, lack of prospects and the attractions of crime. Mimi and Jay, both from affluent citified backgrounds with good teeth, wealthy liberal parents (Jay's mother is a lesbian) and college educations, contrast sharply with Cramer's lack of prospects. Tim Wynne-Jones brings these characters to life through good use of dialogue but fails to use the highlighted issues, around social inequality and inequality of opportunity, for anything other than contrast.
And this is where my problem with the book lies, this is a page turning thriller with an ending that Wynne-Jones manages to conceal right until a few pages before the final showdown, but I can't help thinking that it is a missed opportunity in which he could have explored so much more with the characters and their situations.
Whilst there is no sex in the book it is alluded to in the reason Mimi escapes New York, there is little swearing but there are several unpleasant and threatening characters which give the book an air of menace. All in all a book for the 14+ age group.

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