A Better Bad Idea / Laurie Devore / Book Review


Evelyn Peters is trapped. She lives in the dying, dead-end town of McNair Falls, South Carolina. Her mom is distant and disconnected. Her mom's boyfriend Dane is an abusive alcoholic. The girls at school think she's a lost cause. The boys at school don't notice her--or they notice her entirely too much.

And Reid Brewer, the only spot of life and hope in the whole town, is dead.

When Dane gets drunk and hits Evelyn's six-year-old sister Kara, Evelyn decides enough is enough. Drinking her sorrow away in the woods, Evelyn meets Ashton Harper, ex-boyfriend of the dead girl Reid, and together, they hatch a plan of attack. They escape their dead-end lives together, fleeing in the night, but the mistakes they want to leave don't stay dead and buried long...



Strong Opening Laurie Devore sets an unforgettably grim tone at the very beginning. This book opens with an obituary for a teenage girl. The obituary is followed by a commentary from Evelyn on just what it takes for a girl to survive in this world and then a brief flash into Reid's perspective in her final days. The groundwork is laid, and a brutal, dead-end reality is built in a few strokes of the pen.

Atmospheric South In the way that Faulkner's South is evocative, Devore's South is atmospheric as well. Grotesque and terrible, Devore conjures scenes of a dying town caught up in its death throes. This book isn't full of the hanging Spanish moss and picturesque plantations of a Southern Gothic. It is a down-to-earth, grounded-in-gritty-reality sort of exposé.

Broken Characters There isn't a good and good-hearted character in Devore's cast, perhaps aside from the six-year-old sister. The broken town of McNair Falls has produced a cast of fractured characters, and their broken hopes and dreams round them out very well. Their lives are fragmented. They themselves are scarred. Beaten, bruised, and desperate, the stakes are high for anyone who wants to, in Evelyn's words, simply survive.


Though the first pages with the obituary and following commentary lay down a strong foundation, the narrative switches after this. With few descriptions to ground the reader in the opening chapters, it is not entirely clear what is happening and why. Part of this obscurity is intentional, but it is definitely a difficult style to get used to. Rocky Opening

The lack of emotional resonance here may come down to the fact that the characters themselves are so numb to their pain and the world around them. Even so, I felt like there wasn't enough of an emotional string to tie the story together. While Devore's writing is evocative enough without it, I still felt like this book was missing some sort of final, compelling piece. Lacking Emotion

This may seem like a petty critique, but it really did make a difference in my reading experience. The short, quick paragraphs made it difficult to sink into the story and become fully immersed. Sometimes short paragraphs work to keep the pace quick and sharp, but that wasn't the case here. The style ultimately stopped me from becoming engrossed, which is a shame. Short Paragraphs



Anyone who enjoyed Charles Forsman's The End of the F***ing World or its television counterpart are likely to enjoy the desperately dead-end characters in this book. Those who rooted for the bloody revenge of Diana Urban's All Your Twisted Secrets will enjoy the can't-take-it-back plotline of this contemporary piece.


Publisher: Imprint
Date: March 16, 2021
Series: N/A
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


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