Sunday, June 8, 2008

Blogging again with The Bad Seed

I can't believe the year is nearly half over ... and I've only finished five books so far! For weeks, I have had a hard time focusing on reading. I've been much more into music. I have been getting reacquainted with the blues (mainly B.B. King and Buddy Guy), learning more about bands that are new to me (Panic at the Disco, Death Cab for Cutie, Robert Randolph and the Family Band) and listening to Dave Matthews Band in anticipation of seeing them play next month at the Mile High Music Festival. The iPod I received for Christmas is about one-third full, and I don't know how I ever lived without it.

My husband will be traveling this week for his job, so I hope, after work in the evenings, to put on some high-energy music and clean my house for a couple of hours, then curl up in bed with a good book.

I have decided to implement a 50-100 page rule to help me get through books faster. If a book has not grabbed me within 50-100 pages, it gets posted on
PaperBackSwap. I can be much too stubborn about slogging through books I'm not enjoying and then wondering why I wasted my time.

I also signed up at Dewey's blog to participate in the 24-Hour Read-a-Thon the weekend of June 28-29.

I did finish one novel a couple of weeks ago, William March's classic thriller, The Bad Seed. I had been wanting to re-read it for years. I first read it in the ninth grade in Mr. Horst's honors English class. Mr. Horst assigned some really cool books, and I hope to eventually re-read some more of them. Other reading assignments that year included And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, When the Legends Die by Hal Borland and Bless the Beasts and Children by Glendon Swarthout.

The Bad Seed features one of the most chilling characters I've ever met in fiction: the sociopathic Rhoda Penmark, an 8-year-old, cold-blooded killer. I enjoyed the novel, although it did not make quite the impression on me that it did when I was 15. (I've read too many other creepy books since then.) I can imagine this novel shocked a great many people when it first came out in the '50s.

The book focuses on Christine, Rhoda's mother, who while her husband is away on business for the summer, begins to recognize her daughter's true nature. Christine must face the problem of Rhoda alone, unable to confide in any of her friends, who all see Rhoda as a near-perfect little girl. I often wanted to reach through the pages and shake Christine when she tried to ignore reality and to believe everything would work out all right. But I think many other parents, faced with her dilemma, would react the same way.

I thought March rushed through a subplot in which Christine discovered she had a long-forgotten, dark past (although I remember that aspect of the book affecting me most when I first read it). March was at his best in his characterizations. He populated the novel with intriguing secondary characters. My favorite was Leroy, the bitter, misanthropic janitor who delighted in teasing Rhoda, not realizing he was playing with fire.

My grade: B+

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh, I wanted to add on my last comment that The Sugar Queen must go on my tbr - great review!

I'm going to see BBKing this summer on Cape Cod, my 4th time. Have you read 'We Need To Talk About Kevin'? another creepy kid book...