Title: Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil
Author: Melina Marchetta
Publication date: October 11, 2016
DNF at page 144
Melina Marchetta is one of my favorite authors; this is no secret. I read and adored all of her contemporary young adult novels and have her fantasy series next on my to-read list. But, for many reasons, I simply could not get invested in Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil. It pains me to have to set the book aside, it really does, but I just cannot force myself to continue. It was good at first, promising, and the synopsis quite intriguing, but my interest was unfortunately suspended for a bulk of the 144 pages I read, due to a multitude of reasons that I shall go into.
Judging by the synopsis, the novel is clearly important, if not relevant, to our time and explores topics that take a certain amount of courage to write about. Terrorist attacks and bombings? Islamophobia? These are obviously extremely sensitive topics, and because of this, I think Marchetta was the perfect author to write about them. At least up until the point I read, she handled these issues exceptionally well, trudging through these grounds thoughtfully and introducing a point of view that many may not have ever been exposed to. Being a Muslim Arab myself, I very much appreciate the author's intentions.
Intentions aside, the book itself was... lackluster. Call me shallow if you will, but everything about the novel--the protagonist, the supporting characters, just the overall atmosphere was downright boring and so dreadfully adult-ish that I could not for the life of me muster up the motivation to pick this back up. Dispiriting is the perfect word to describe my impression of the novel. You might be saying, but Summer! The book is meant to be bleak because of its subject matter! To that I say, bah humbug, because why the hell would I willfully read a book if every aspect of it were depressing and colorless, without a single hint of some sort of comic relief or anything of the sort? And the writing! Perhaps the most disappointing part of the book. It's not bad, per se, it just... left a lot to be desired.
I realize I'm being incredibly presumptuous right now, seeing as I failed to finish the book, but I have a feeling that the rest of the book will be much like the first quarter was. It could be said that this is a case of "it's not you, it's me," and that I simply failed to connect to any of the characters and thus could not bring myself to care about the crime aspect of the book. I sincerely hope this is the case. Maybe one day I'll be able to regain my interest in the book, but for now, I'll stick to focusing on Marchetta's Lumatere Chronicles.
Take my criticisms and praise with a grain of salt if you'd like. Just know that if you are planning on reading Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil solely for the name of the author, most likely you will be disappointed. This is not young adult fiction by any means, and don't go in expecting something that is on the lines of Jellicoe Road, because Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil is a completely different ballgame. I just wish I had the interest to fully invest myself in it.