Fiction · Novels · Reviews

Review: Marlena

Hi friends, happy Friday! The end of another week! Today I’m going to be posting my review of Julie Buntin’s novel Marlena.


Marlena by: Julie Buntin: When Cat moves to Silver Lake, Michigan at fifteen her first friend is her seventeen-year-old neighbour, Marlena. Spun into her orbit, Cat starts to pick up all of her bad habits, drinking, smoking, skipping school and popping pills. A year later, Marlena is found dead and Cat is left to move on, but even decades later that’s easier said than done. This novel was a bit of a whirlwind of a story. We learn right from the beginning what has happened, but it’s through the main character we learn how it happened, but not so much the why though. This was a really interesting story, despite how slow paced this was and although the reader wavered between caring and not caring about these characters, and at times the writing was really profound, but it was the way this was told that truly didn’t work for the reader. Told in a back and forth, from past to present sort of way, storylines kept blurring and it just didn’t feel like effective storytelling. Sure, it was great to read about the main character, Cat, as an adult and how her past decisions reflected the person she became, that was really well done, and her character growth was deeply moving, but aside from seeing her grown up, the adult flashbacks didn’t feel like they were needed. Then the ending felt really anticlimactic; when the story started Cat received a call from someone in her past and this propelled the reader through this story because the author made it out that we’re going to get some big revelation, but instead it’s just these two characters meeting up and it fell really flat. That plot felt really useless and added nothing to the overall story. The characters were deeply flawed yet very well rounded and the reader found them riveting; although we don’t see many of them in the present chapters, the ones we do see developed and grew really well. The way Buntin wrote about friendship was really touching and beautiful. Overall, this had really good moments with fascinating characters hidden between the pages of pointless plotlines.

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