“Security:” one of 2016’s biggest literary letdowns

Christopher Walker, Editor - in - Chief

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“Security,” a novel written by Gina Wohlsdorf, tells the story of the Manderley Hotel, a brand new state-of-the-art complex on the Santa Barbara beach containing one of the world’s most advanced security camera systems.

The novel’s protagonist, hotel manager Tessa, is a headstrong, career-focused woman who will stop at nothing to make sure the Manderley’s opening is nothing short of perfection. She is distracted from this goal when a man from her past arrives unexpectedly at the hotel to win her over before its grand opening.

While they go over their past and look for a future together, a killer begins to pick off the hotel staff one by one through the night, a danger that remains unbeknown to the lovers until the last minute. As the two quickly become the last ones alive, they must find a way to escape the hotel or perish in it.

Prior to its release, “Security” was one of the more buzzed about debuts of 2016, and its intriguing premise perked up the ears of most thrill-seeking readers.

For all its promise, however, this book ended up being a horrible, badly written and overtly simple literary letdown. “Security” was terrible. Terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible.

How to sum up the overarching unpleasantness of this literary dud? Believe me when I say my review will do it no justice.

For starters, the characters are neither likeable, nor interesting. Every one of them, including Tessa, the protagonist, shows such little humanity throughout the work, it’s utterly baffling.

The reader is not witnessing real, three-dimensional characters coming within an inch of their lives at every turn, where their narrow escapes become our own brushes with death; “Security” feels more along the lines of watching an especially violent child play sock puppets, killing off random characters as various whims strike her.     

The methods the masked murderer uses to kill his victims are ridiculous; although they are often funny, it’s clear they are not meant to be humorous. (He knocks one of his victims unconscious and puts their body in a heavy-duty clothing dryer, and he is heated to death.)

Another serious cripple is Wohldsforf’s unflinching adherence to the literary device (taken from cinema) of editing back-and-forth between two scenes occurring simultaneously.  

This is a fine technique when used once or twice, but Wohldsorf leans so heavily on it, the book begins to buckle under its weight. The prose does not switch back and forth every chapter; without exaggeration, the scene switches back and forth every one or two paragraphs towards the end of the book.

To say the narrative grows tedious is to give far too much credit to “Security.”

Another major and serious complaint I have about the book, which no one has mentioned in literary criticism until now, is the glaring issue of the romantic relationship between Tessa and her love interest. He arrives at the hotel and tells her he’s loved her since the moment they met.

The problem here is Tessa was adopted by this man’s family when they were both still children. They grew up together until he was nearly an adult and was finally able to legally leave the house; she was in her late teens when she last saw him.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but if you grow up with someone in your household since before you could form memories, that makes them a sibling. Ms. Wohlsdorf, your scene under the waterfall is not beautiful: It’s borderline incest.   

With a horrendous stylistic blend of Stephen King, Michael Crichton and George R. R. Martin let loose; this dud of a book was miserable to trudge through. Skip.

 

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