Book Critique: You've Been Warned

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: Besides the confusing narration, and the thread of faith that was tugging us all along, it is definitely a thriller that will give you some serious shivers. Yet, the writers managed to make it an easy and quick read.

You've Been Warned is a psychological suspense thriller written by James Patterson, co-authored by Howard Roughan published in September of 2007. The primary plot revolves around an amateur photographer, Kristin Burns and set in and around New York City.

I have read so many books of so many other authors, but I think I read only one book by James Patterson in his Alex Cross series and two of his bookshots. However, I never picked his books again. For some reason, I couldn’t go back to them. But, recently a friend lent me her book by James Patterson, and wanted me to try him again. So, here is the review.

Kristin Burns, a full-time nanny, working on getting her own show of her photographs in an elite gallery. She is having an affair with a man who is almost hers. Life seems to be going smooth and in a path that she had set. But the faint ripples of fear start that emerge into full-blown catastrophe; and the only way to control it and take her life is to look through her photographs and try to figure out what is happening. Well, fear is never to be taken easy, and Kristin doesn’t have a easy route. 

The plot is definitely chilling and disturbed me a lot. However, I am not sure if this comes under paranormal mystery fiction or regular fiction. There are shades of paranormal stuff I see, but again it also has more colors of regular fiction. Not only that, the entire writing style also confused me at first. Were we visiting past or living in present was not clear until I was into at least 25% of the book.

The entire story is written in first-person narration. That is a good thing in many cases, however, here the style of writing felt to me not bookish English, but more a conversational English that we use on daily basis. I am used to reading a far better style of writing than being so simple as I saw here.

Despite the various flaws I see, the plot still captured my attention. The thing that gave me shivers and disturbed me most was the way the authors have given "fate" the position of being the antagonist; and also how closely the plot came to something I strongly believe in. 

Kristin was given so many chances to change her direction or her path, just like how one gets various paths thrown at you by fate. Whatever decision you make at each juncture decides which path you take, even though fate has given you multiple paths. That's exactly what I felt the writers took Kristin on and had her traverse through with fate lingering at her fingertips with the right place that she is supposed to be at, all she had to do is find the right thread.

The authors open the book with a quote from the famous American-Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh. The heroine uses Leica R9 camera to take her pictures. I havent heard of that brand before, but seems to be a good one. And she has her own dark room to develop her photographic reels. Just reading the story set in 2007, took me back down the memory lane for me, even though it was a mere 12 years ago.

Although each chapter is numbered, in between every few chapters we see one-page inserts with one single number, starting from 1. Almost makes it look like every few chapters are bundled together as a mini-book.  I did however feel that there was a disconnect on one particular thing at the end of the book, something that I felt not answered well. 

Besides the confusing narration, and the thread of faith that was tugging us all along, it is definitely a thriller that will give you some serious shivers. Yet, the writers managed to make it an easy and quick read. Perhaps I will pick up a James Paterson book again, but may be not in so near future.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. The authors have their heroine get her stuff for her apartment from Crate & Barrel factory reject sale. Was wondering what that was when a google search lead me to Crate & Barrel clearance and outlet sale. Was this what was called as factory reject sale some 12 years ago?

b. References to Books, Movies and TV Shows that the authors use in the plot:

i. Dakota, Michael's daughter, reads a book called The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White. I have read his Stuart Little but saw the films made based off his books Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web.

ii. Sean, Michael's son, loves Jimmy Neutron, the boy genius cartoon kid, and he even has Jimmy Neutron socks. 

iii. Kristin watches the 1996 American comedy film Flirting with Disaster

iv. References to Where's Waldo? Children's puzzle books are seen.

c. Kristin and the kids play a game called keep-away and I wondered what it was, until I realize we used to play a similar game as kids. More about the game here.

d. Why does the pony-tailed investigator shoot at Kristin towards the end, when he very well knew that she hadnt murdered anyone?

2. Sub Plots:

a. Kristin is having an affair with Michael Turnbull, her employer, who is the father of the two kids, Dakota and Sean, she takes care of, and very married to Penley.

b. Kristin has two best friends - Beth, a struggling actress; and Connie, a social worker with the city's Division of Family Services.

3. Grammatical / Historical / Location / Character Errors:

a. On Pg. 55, Line 5, it should be "…In front of me there's…"

b. On Pg. 107, Line 9, it should be "…without Javier being able…"


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