Monday, June 27, 2011

Review: Reunion

Jeff Bennington
Supernatural Thriller
336 Pages
nexGate Press
Available Now
Received from author for review

Twenty years ago David Ray walked into the cafeteria of his high school with a variety of guns and proceeded to dispense his own version of vengeance against those who made his life miserable. Taking out eight of his classmates, he then turned the gun on himself.

Now, those who survived the trauma are dealing with the lasting effects in various ways. A small group of them ultimately decide to get back together at the scene of the crime to face their fears and celebrate the lives they've managed to create for themselves in the aftermath of tragedy.

Though their focus is on moving forward and not looking back, there's a entity at their school intent on making them remember. And not just remember, but live through everything again. It seems David Ray is as evil in death as he was in life, and he's ready to show those who have returned that he will never be forgotten.

Reunion catapults us into a world that is both disturbingly realistic in its focus on the horrifying trend of school violence and also frighteningly fictional as the terror of the paranormal is added to human cruelty. We are exposed to the permanent emotional, mental, and physical scars of a school shooting, our senses kicked into overdrive as we realize the trauma for the survivors is not over, but rather just beginning. The premise of Reunion is solid, the combination of real and concrete events with supernatural intangibility one that is certainly intriguing enough to have us speed-reading to see what nightmares await those who deserve nothing but peace.

While the foundation of Reunion is strong and its characters varied and likeable, there are a few drawbacks in the execution. The dialogue is often forced and lacking in emotional resonance, the words delivered with little intonation and missing the quality that brings flat black letters to life as they flow from the pages into our hearts and take root. The conversations are a bit soap-opera like in nature, sometimes crossing the line of believability to remind us we are dealing with a piece of fiction as opposed to being able to lose ourselves in interactions that feel as though they're taking place in front of and around us. Mr. Bennington provides us with the skeletons of some characters with true potential, they could just use a few additional layers to shift them from shades of gray to vibrant color.

Though the characters suffer from a small substance deficiency, Mr. Bennington does surprise us with an unexpected chain of events toward the end, ratcheting up the paranormal aspect and twisting and molding it in his own unique way. The final pages, as events and characters are wrapped up neatly and tidily (something we are grateful for after all they've survived), do dissolve into a mild case of religious preaching, however it's nothing so extensive as to be overwhelming. Despite my issues with this particular story, Mr. Bennington is an author I would read again, his imagination and ability to push a story in an unforeseen direction enough to earn my continued curiosity.

Rating: 2.5/5


  1. Great honest review Jenny. It sounds like this book was lacking that connection that makes you care about the story.

  2. Thanks for the review! The premise of the book seemed great - too bad that the book is lacking in character development. Forced and unbelievable dialogues are enough to ruin any book for me.

  3. Nice review even if you did not like the book as much as you seem to have liked the premise of how good he can be

  4. Hmmm...Not sure if this is really my thing, although the premise does sound interesting. Thanks for the great and honest review, as always! :)

  5. Nic - For me, it was. There were a lot of different characters and I couldn't quite connect with any of them.

    Misha - There were a ton of positive reviews of this one on Goodreads, it just wasn't the book for me and some of the dialogue just didn't work.

    Blodeuedd - Thank you!

    Leanna - You're welcome. I'm not sure it was my thing either:)

  6. Woah, love the synopsis, but if it forced not sure I can get into the book. Thanks for the review Jenny!

  7. The premise definitely had me thinking this might be an awesome thriller, but since characters really drive story for me and the execution was lacking I doubt I will be reading this one.

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  9. Wow- I find that to be a brave author, who would write about a school killer and then have the killer after death haunt the victims..(squeal)
    I have such an emotional spot for this situation due to Columbine happening when I was just out of highschool. I wouldn't be able to read this, but thanks for the review...;)

  10. Despite its promising description, I don't think this book is for me. I like to connect to characters and if I can't, it really diminishes my enjoyment of the book. Thanks for an honest review, Jenny!

  11. Savy - You're welcome:)

    Jan - It had some really interesting twists and I loved that about it, I just had a little trouble with the characters.

    Tina - It was definitely a bold move and those characters got put through the wringer.

    Rummanah - Same with me, I need the characters to suck me in first and foremost, then I can overlook a lot of little flaws:)

  12. From the summary it sounded pretty good. Sorry you didnt like it as much.

  13. Oooh, the concept of this book makes me shiver! It's a bummer that the book didn't live up to its awesome premise. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! :)

  14. The summary is interesting, but I'm really not a fan of soap-opera conversations/forced dialogue. I think I'll pass on this one. Thanks for the honest review, Jenny :)

  15. I do like a good thriller, but it doesn't look like this one is for me. Perhaps another book by him, but not this one. I don't like to be preached at even if it isn't overwhelming. Plus I definitely wouldn't like the dialog. Thanks for the honest review!

  16. Probably too many cons for me to check it out. Although I am interested as to how/what paranormal is introduced.

  17. Very insightful review, Jenny. You know, when I read The Third, I felt the same way about the conversations. The story was really interesting, I just would have like a bit more emotional resonance in the dialogue.

    Hope the next book you pick up by this author works better for you. I'm sure it will. :)

  18. I like thrillers but this just doesn't seem like one that would appeal to me. I don't like thriller(like Tess Gerritsen types) mixed w/paranormal if that makes any sense.

    Great indepth review!

  19. Jenny - Just wasn't for me I don't think!

    Lauren - You're welcome, I really enjoyed the paranormal aspect of it:)

    Lea - Me either. I kept hoping things were going to progress and the conversations would get a bit more layered, but they didn't for me:(

    Melissa - I'm not much for preaching either, it wasn't much, but enough to be a bit bothersome for me.

    Alyssa - The paranormal twists were the best part in my opinion:)

    Missie - Thanks! It felt almost as if I were reading a script if that makes sense. The words in a script seem really flat until an actor gives them life, and this book was just missing that life for me.

    Felicia - Made sense to me:)

  20. I'm not a HUGE fan of thrillers anyway... Unless they're attached to zombies. LOTS of zombies ;)


  21. Too bad this disappointed. The incorporation of paranormal sounds like it could go really well or really badly with this. It does sound like the author is talented but maybe just needs a bit more experience.

  22. Ashley - You and your zombies woman! You crack me up:)

    Alison - I had hoped for a little more based on the other reviews I've read, but I seem to have been the odd one out on this one so I clearly wasn't quite the right audience:)

  23. Even if this one was good, I wouldn't have picked it up because I don't like thrillers or anything involving huge amounts of violence. I don't even watch movies where there's huge amounts of blood despite knowing that it's all fake.

  24. Not my kind of read. Good review.


  25. Thanks for the honest review! I like the idea behind the story. Too bad it did live up to it :/

  26. All kinds of wrong with the dialogue, huh? No good! Thank you for the honest review Jenny :)