Thoughts on Dark Rooms

I haven't finished the book yet, but I can tell you that I am reading primarily to cheer against the main character of Lili Anolik's Dark Rooms

The blurb on the back of my ARC describes this book as a murder mystery: 

Death sets the plot in motion: the murder of Nica Baker, beautiful, wild, enigmatic, and only sixteen. The crime is solved, and quickly—a lonely classmate, unrequited love, a suicide note confession—but memory and instinct won’t allow Nica’s older sister, Grace, to accept the case as closed.

Dropping out of college and living at home, working at the moneyed and progressive private high school in Hartford, Connecticut, from which she recently graduated, Grace becomes increasingly obsessed with identifying and punishing the real killer.

However, I found that once the murder was wrapped up by the suicide note, the main character Grace does not go into any kind of questioning or show any determination to solve the "unsolved murder" at all. In fact, nothing more is mentioned for about 80 pages; instead, the only hook that tries to keep you in place is the mysterious paternity question - which Grace doesn't seem to think about and thus has yet to be pursued in any meaningful way. 

The tipping point for me from "this could be a great book" to "I really hope Grace gets screwed out of her goal" was when she decided that her reward for solving her sister's murder was an abortion for herself:

"...I would have to forfeit my life as I knew it, keep the baby. That was my vow: make someones pay for Nica's death or pay for it myself. No justice for her, no abortion for me."

Really? I don't see how getting vengeance for your sister's death is the same thing as terminating your pregnancy - especially when you don't seem to care that you're pregnant anyway. I'm also against abortion in general, so someone who just spontaneously decides to get one "as a reward" doesn't exactly endear herself to me. Grace has given me no reason to side with her so far (actually, I care far more about Nica, and I already know her fate since that was the premise of the book). If things start to pick up now that Grace has decided to get off her mopey ass and do something, I might finish the book, but if she continues telling me the same blah story then Dark Rooms will end up on the did-not-finish pile of forgettable books... A sad fate for what could have been (and really should have been) a great mystery story.

 

- Alexis

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