Kiss the Girls
by James Patterson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Kiss the Girls / 0-446-60124-1
"Kiss the Girls", as a movie, was a wonderfully succinct, punchy thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat until the ending, so I was looking forward immensely to the novel, but I am disappointed to say that the novel was a touch too long and tedious for my personal tastes. Many book-based movies garner a lot of flack for cutting a lot of the plot in order to fit everything into the short time frame available, but it would seem that "Kiss the Girls" the movie was good *because* it cut what it did.
"Kiss the Girls" the novel spans over one hundred chapters, albeit short, choppy ones that represent a Point of View change. But all these chapters more often than not fail to flesh out characters or develop the storyline. Protagonist Alex Cross, in particular, tends to get bogged down in details (he says "She has to have the last word" with regard to one of his family members at least four different times that I counted) and has this annoying habit to liberally *gush* over everyone he meets. Seriously, everyone he knows and likes is smart, strong, tough, clever, etc. etc. I can honestly say I know more about Cross' children than I do about some of the kids in my own immediate family. And there's nothing wrong with this level of detail, per se, but it just tends to cause me to drift as a reader. What *is* wrong is Patterson's habit of describing EVERYONE in terms of a movie actor - "He looked like Michael Douglass in one of his dirty cop roles," or "She looked like Darrell Hannah," and so on. Seriously, James, describe what they look like, don't just use Famous Person Shorthand to zip over that stuff because it's lazy and removes readers from the narrative.
The storyline with the Gentleman Caller and Cassanova is as fascinating as it is in the movie, and I did appreciate that the book had time to show the captive girls being more proactive in reaching out to one another and planning their escape. Quite a bit too much time is spent on the Red Herring, though, which is pretty obviously a Red Herring, even if you haven't seen the movie. And a lot of the torture starts to feel deliberately over the top - rape scenes are fine in a "serial rapist and murderer" novel, but was the rape scene with the snake absolutely a necessity? Reasonable people can differ on what is and isn't gratuitous, but there comes a point when I have to suspect that some of this was included for the kink sales factor.
Finally, I've discovered that there is, in fact, something worse than the Hollywood insistence that all main characters find "Twue Luv" in the course of the movie - and that's when both of the main characters find "Twue Luv" over the course of a novel, and then angst CONSTANTLY about how it would never work out, they're too opinionated, they're too similar, they'd be so unhappy, any attempt to start a relationship would end badly and ruin a good friendship, etc. and spend much of the novel sharing a bed but pointedly not having sex. Seriously, way too much time was spent on this and I found it to be intensely annoying. Like someone? Own it, try it out, see what happens. Don't think it will end well? Then own *those* feelings, keep it at a friend level, and *shut up* about it. Seriously, 40+ pages of sustained romantic angst is not what I read thriller novels for.
In the end, this long-winded novel feels a victim of trying to be too much to too many people. It's a thriller! It's kinky! It's got massive amounts of romantic angst! It explores racial tension in the South! But in the end, I much preferred the abridged movie version that cut through all the extra stuff and just brought us a couple of serial killers, a frightened girl, and her uncle working overtime to rescue her.
~ Ana Mardoll
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