Novel Review: Reunion by Jeff Bennington

Not too long ago, Jeff Bennington sought commentary for the cover art for his up coming novel, Reunion. The original drafts were black and white. I have to say I love the final artwork. Here’s the thing. The scheduled release date for Reunion is April 1. Now you didn’t hear it from me, but Reunion is on sale NOW. Okay, we haven’t even gotten to the review and we’re already in sale mode. First the blurb from Mr. Bennington’s website:

David Ray killed eight students and then turned the gun on himself. He thought the shooting and suicide would fix his world. It didn’t. The massacre threw Tanner Khan and the other survivors into chaos.

Twenty years later, Tanner and his fellow classmates reluctantly agree to hold a reunion to lay the past to rest. Although they suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, they come back to their hometown and reunite in the defunct school building. Old flames are rekindled, fears are ignited, and their lives are about to explode in a whirlwind of memories, haunted by the spirit of David Ray.

Once they’re inside the school, they discover that a dark entity has joined them. It has come to collect a debt, long overdue, and someone has to pay. Will Tanner and his classmates overcome their fears, putting the pieces of their lives back together, or will they be consumed by their worst nightmare?

Thrillers haven’t been my thing for a while now. During my teenage years I read a novel about astronauts who went to Mars and became infect with some kind of black substance. At least one survivor returned to Earth with the infection. Finishing that book resulted in nightmares. And that was the end of my run with thrillers. Dean Koontz comes to mind, but I’m pretty sure I’m wrong about that. Anyone have any idea what book I’m talking about?

Moving on. So Mr. Bennington offered an ARC of Reunion. The premises was interesting but could I handle it? I figured I was mature enough… or so I hoped, and gave it a shot.

Reunion was presented in two parts–before the shooting and twenty years after. In the first section we had, David Ray, a tormented teen who planned to go out with a bang. Despite his methods of dealing with the situation, it was difficult to dislike the boy. More than anything, I felt sorry that a kid would be subjected to such horrible circumstances.

Fast forward twenty years and we have the bulk of the story. Six classmates come together to overcome the imprint the tragedy left on their lives. Now I’m a reader who looks for the morbid in literature and movies. I’ll gladly give up my happily ever after (HEA) for a wrench thrown into the gears. To my wicked delight, no one was left unscathed in Reunion. We had the ruined, the mere survivors, and those who presented a tough facade but where crippled, nonetheless. Big fan of the flawed characters!

One oddity was the way people reacted to the unexplained. I had a hard time believing so much would be shoved under the rug for whatever reason. Faced with the same paranormal elements, I could see myself going into denial, explaining away the supernatural, or running out of town as fast as my stubby legs could carry me, but certainly not the acceptance or nonchalance I saw in a few characters.

Now this is the writer in me talking. Mr. Bennington broke two writing guidelines royally, and I LOVED that he did. He did quite a bit of telling instead of showing and had plenty of back story. Why am I cheering? Because despite my mind rebelling at the broken rules, the story line kept me captivated. Awesome plot! Just goes to show folks, the rules aren’t golden. 🙂

The only thing I really didn’t like was the point of view (POV) style, which I found a bit distancing. As a romance fan, I’ve developed a preference for the deep POV. Reunion was more omniscient POV, which you’ll find in stories like Lord of the Rings. So it’s certainly not wrong, just a subjective preference. Keep in mind, the story was told from 7-8 viewpoints, so perhaps the POV choice was perfect. One thing for sure, I can see Reunion adapted for the theatre.

Reunion by Jeff Bennington is available at:

Barnes & Nobles

The Book Depository

Smashwords

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