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Booker Longlist: The Trees by Percival Everett

Book 4 – reviewed by panelists Book Worm, Anita, and Jen. Rated by Tracy and Susie

Percival Everett is the author of over 30 books since his debut, Suder, was released in 1983.

Synopsis from Booker Prize website:

A violent history refuses to be buried in Percival Everett’s striking novel, which combines an unnerving murder mystery with a powerful condemnation of racism and police violence.

Something strange is afoot in Money, Mississippi. A series of brutal murders are eerily linked by the presence at each crime scene of a second dead body: that of a man who resembles Emmett Till, a young black boy lynched in the same town 65 years before.

The investigating detectives soon discover that uncannily similar murders are taking place all over the country. As the bodies pile up, the detectives seek answers from a local root doctor, who has been documenting every lynching in the country for years…

Published by Influx.

So what does our panel think? Keep reading to found out where The Trees ranks for our panel.

BookWorms Thoughts: Wow how to describe this book I have not read anything like this before. This is a book about revenge or maybe karma, it’s about remembering those murdered by lynching and about the race issues that still exist today. While this all sounds rather heavy this is actually a really funny book, like Dickens we have the subtle play of character and place names, we have the bumbling cops, the tough ass FBI agent and most importantly of all we have Ed and Jim black detectives thrown into the South of the Clan and all that means.

The relationship between these two men is what really made the book for me, I also loved the museum of those killed by lynching and the power in writing those names down so they are not forgotten.

I am not sure about the ending but I sure enjoyed the ride there.

Who would like this? Read this if you want a totally fresh kind of story.

Writing quality: 4/5
Originality: 5/5
Character development: 4/4
Plot development: 3/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 18/20

Anita’s Thoughts: The first quarter of the book was extremely funny – – just the blackest of black humor, and I was appreciating it. Unfortunately, for me, the book loses momentum quickly as the murders begin to spread countrywide following the exact same pattern. What starts as a very ballsy, fresh approach to relating the history of lynching in this country ends in a mushy, unresolved finale. What could have been an incredible piece of social commentary just ended up falling flat. Great idea, but the execution didn’t live up to the promise.

Writing quality: 3/5
Originality: 5/5
Character development: 2/4
Plot development: 2/4
Overall enjoyment: 1/2
Total: 13/20

Jen’s Thoughts: It’s hard to rate this book because it’s unlike anything I’ve ever read before. I loved it because it thoroughly surprised me. I completely disagree with Anita’s assessment because it’s the way in which the author blends genres, adds elements of the unexplained to prove a point, and challenges the rules of conventional crime novel that is precisely what gives the novel its “ballsy, fresh approach.” If you are looking for a conventional narrative on racism, a conventional crime novel, or conventional anything, you probably won’t enjoy the book and it’s true that the ending could leaving readers feeling frustrated. The use of horror as one of the genres intertwined in the novel is brilliant. There is so much inside this novel that pushes the bounds of convention, at times funny and irreverent (and it’s an interesting sensation to laugh in the midst of all the horror, violence, racism) and at other times gruesome and unsettling, this book will be an experience.

Writing quality: 5/5
Originality: 5/5
Character development: 3/4
Plot development: 3/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 18/20

Tracy’s Ratings:

Writing quality: 4.5/5
Originality: 4.5/5
Character development: 3/4
Plot: 3/4
Enjoyment: 2/2 
Total: 17/20

Susie’s Ratings:

Writing quality: 4/5
Originality: 4/5
Character development: 3/4
Plot: 3/4
Enjoyment: 1.5/2 
Total: 15.5/20

Overall Rankings

  1. The Colony 18.8
  2. The Trees 16.3
  3. Small Things Like These 15.5
  4. Booth 13.7

Have you read it?  What do you think? Does it belong on the shortlist?

Next up for our panel will be Oh William by Elizabeth Strout

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Remedial Stitcher #

    I’m looking forward to reading this one.

    Like

    August 11, 2022

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