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2018 Man Booker Longlist: Snap

snap

Next up is Snap by Belinda Bauer. Five of our panelists read this book. Here are our reviews…

Snap by Belinda Bauer
2018 Man Booker (longlist)
Published in: 2018
Judges: Nicole, Jen, Book Worm, Andrew, and Lisa
Find it/buy it here: Snap

Synopsis (From Amazon): Jack’s in charge, said his mother as she disappeared up the road to get help. I won’t be long. Now eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters wait on the hard shoulder in their stifling, broken-down car, bickering and whining and playing I-Spy until she comes back.

But their mother doesn’t come back. She never comes back. And after that long, hot summer’s day, nothing will ever be the same again.

Three years later, Jack’s fifteen now and still in charge . . . alone in the house. Meanwhile across town, a young woman called Catherine While wakes to find a knife beside her bed, and a note reading I could of killed you. The police are tracking a mysterious burglar they call Goldilocks, for his habit of sleeping in the beds of the houses he robs, but Catherine doesn’t see the point of involving the police. And Jack, very suddenly, may be on the verge of finding out who killed his mother.

A twisty, masterfully written novel that will have readers on the edge of their seats, Snap is Belinda Bauer at the height of her powers.

Jen’s Review: Honestly, I have no idea how this book made the list. I am not one of those people who believe that genre fiction can’t be considered for the prize. I have read many genre fiction novels that are brilliantly written and thought-provoking. However, this is not the book I would have picked as even being in the realm of Man Booker contenders. Don’t get me wrong it’s an entertaining book and I read through it in a day but Man Booker worthy? No. I found it highly predictable and the writing had a pretty commercial feel to me – no dazzling literary sentences.

I haven’t been overly impressed by the selection this year (and I’m over halfway done with the list). While I was entertained, I didn’t find it particularly memorable and I’ve already forgotten many of the plot details. This one gets a solid “meh” from me.

Writing quality: 2/5
Originality: 2/5
Character Development: 3/4
Plot Development: 2/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 11/20

Nicole’s Review: If you are going to put genre fiction up against books like Overstory and Low and Quiet Sea, it needs to be outstanding.  And this wasn’t.  It wasn’t even good.  I’m BAFFLED how this made the list, and angry because it took a spot from a (way more) deserving book.  I’m sorry I wasted my time reading it.  I’m sure my resentment reflects in my rating, but we are talking about the 13 best books of the year ….

The writing and story were trite.  Check out this cracking prose about Reynolds (an adult, I must point out) “Reynolds felt like crying.  He really did.  It wasn’t fair! It just wasn’t!”

There were so. many. exclamation. points. and so many absolutely ridiculous, unrealistic plot points.  I hope I forget this book very quickly.  At least it was a fast read.  I didn’t hate it, but it was close.

Writing quality: 2/5
Originality: 1/5
Character Development: 1/4
Plot Development: 2/4
Overall enjoyment: 1/2
Total: 7/20

Book Worm’s Review:  I am really not sure how I feel about this book being on the Man Booker Longlist. I enjoyed the story, it moved at a fast pace and I was never bored, but as far as crime stories go, I didn’t find it ground breaking or exceptional.

There are 2 what I would call twists in this story and I managed to predict both of them. This has left me wondering were they deliberately obvious or do I just read too many of this type of book.

This is a solidly written book and a couple of the one liners made me laugh. I liked Jack as a character but I felt that the police force came across as stereotypical. The unfolding plot was well paced but I have to confess that I didn’t particularly like the ending.

Overall an enjoyable read but for me a bit lightweight to be included in this longlist.

Writing quality: 4/5
Originality: 3/5
Character Development: 3/4
Plot Development: 3/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 15/20

Anita’s Review: There’s nothing wrong with this book for what it is. It’s a nicely plotted, well paced murder mysterious. Three traumatized children of the victim survive and somewhat unrealistically are left to fend on their own, and their coping mechanisms make up a good part of what’s intriguing about the book. The relationship between the two detectives working the case adds some levity. It’s a good work of genre fiction that I think many mainstream readers would enjoy. I enjoyed it as a change of pace. However, I cannot fathom what in the world it is doing as a Man Booker nominee. It’s not literary fiction. It doesn’t deal with any subject of importance other than the result of trauma which has been done many, many times before. It doesn’t even have a great twist that would make you think, “wow, that was special.” If this is shortlisted, I’ll be absolutely floored.

Writing quality: 3/5
Originality: 1/5
Character Development: 3/4
Plot Development: 3/4
Overall enjoyment: 1/2
Total: 11/20

Andrew’s Review: What are we to do with “Snap?” Within it’s genre, it’s pitch-perfect and from a pure reading perspective, it was by far the most enjoyable book I’ve read so far. However when compared to some of the other books nominated for the long list, it falls woefully short. The writing is witty, humorous, and suspenseful, but fairly ordinary and the plot itself is not particularly convoluted nor original. It’s certainly a wonderful “beach read,” but is it worthy of one of the most prestigious literary awards? No.

This is a straight crime thriller complete with plot twists, plenty of action, and suspense. It follows the life of a family that has been ruined by murder and all those that are pulled into the vortex of the crime. It’s a true page-turner and the characters jump off the page even if they are fairly standard archetypes (the gruff, rogue older cop and the younger by-the-book junior officer). This story notably lacks a strong female character and is lesser for it.

I’d argue that this book could have been more meaningful than it ultimately is. Without giving away too much of the plot, there were missed opportunities to discuss the complexities of marriage and doubt, the ease of looking the other way when someone clearly needs help, and how kids deal with severe trauma. If the author had tackled these issues, perhaps this book would rate higher for me. But ultimately, what we have here is a great thriller, and not necessarily great literature. Now if we want to talk about supposed “high brow” versus “low brow” literature and their merits, I’ll need another 5000 words…

Writing quality: 3/5
Originality: 3/5
Character Development: 2/4
Plot Development: 4/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 14/20

Lisa’s Review:  I am a fan of literary crime novels. So, I was excited to see Snap on the long list, and I enjoyed reading it. However, Snap is just not in the same league as books by authors like Kate Atkinson, Louise Penny, or Tana French.  I kept reading, waiting for a plot twist that would catapult it ahead of these other crime writers. But it never came. The characters – except for Jack – were only half developed. Some, like Reynolds, or Rice, were entirely one dimensional. There were hints of interesting possibilities or plot lines in the beginning of the book – but they did not go anywhere.  I don’t want to give too much away, but there were also elements of the plot that were entirely unexplained or completely unbelievable. The writing quality was fine, but unremarkable.  Ultimately, I could not give it a high score on any of the elements.

Writing quality: 3/5
Originality: 1/5
Character Development: 3/4
Plot Development: 3/4
Overall enjoyment: 1/2
Total: 11/20

Combined panel score: 11.5/20

Ranking of longlist books:
1. Overstory (18/20)
2. Warlight (15.56/20)
3. The Water Cure by Mackintosh (14.2)
4. The Mars Room (14/20)
5. Snap (11.5/20)
6. Sabrina (9.5/20)

We want to hear from you. Have you read the book? What did you think? Does it deserve to make the shortlist? Why or why not?

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nicole R #

    Nicole D’s review ultimately convinced me that this book is not for me: the overabundance of exclamation points. No thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 10, 2018
  2. Anita #

    Funny how Lisa and I scored the book identically on all five components . . .has that ever happened before?

    Jen’s comment, “I haven’t been overly impressed by the selection this year . . .” resonates with me big time although I don’t think I’ve read as many as she has. So far, of the six books I’ve read, there’s one that I actually want to see on the shortlist. One.

    Like

    September 10, 2018
  3. You know what pisses me off about this book the most? That I’m thinking about it the next day. LOL. I’m still annoyed. I would love to talk ridiculous spoilers just to get them off my chest.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 10, 2018
    • mootastic1 #

      Me too. This is going to be one of those books I react to like Life of Pi. That’s how irritated I am by it. Will head to GR to discuss spoilers with you.

      Liked by 1 person

      September 10, 2018
  4. When I first heard about it being long listed I was delighted! I love crime fiction, but from all of your reviews and all previous others I think it just doesn’t deserve all the hype.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 11, 2018
    • I’d be curious to have you read it too so you can share what you think. I am not a big fan of crime fiction (although some of our panel members are).

      Liked by 1 person

      September 11, 2018

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