Monday, August 16, 2010

Alligator With Bite

As a reader there are three moments that I like the best. When I reread an old favourite and it still gives me that comforting, fuzzy feeling very few experiences can top that.  Also, I love it when an author I like writes another great book which I enjoy as much as their previous work.  Lastly, I love it when I discover a new author whose work just blows me away.  That was definitely the case when I read Newfoundland author Lisa Moore's novel Alligator

I had been wanting to read this book for some time and because of my carefully honed book-sleuthing skills and managed to find it amongst the thousands of books at this year's Times-Colonist Book Sale.  What really drew me to the book was that I thought that the book's plot revolved around an alligator showing up in St. John's and terrifying its citizens.  I was totally wrong.  Though there is an alligator in the book (and it shows up pretty early on), it never appears in Newfoundland.  Nevertheless, this book is amazing with memorable characters and a plot like a runaway train.  The story is told from the points of view of ten different characters that are all interconnected, and it's a style that runs the risk of creating a lot of one-dimensional characters.  In this case Moore manages to draw the reader in with compelling characters such as Valentin, the Russian psychopath, and his victim, Frank the enterprising young hot dog vendor.  The cast is rounded out by Colleen, a lost teen who tries to emulate her eco-terrorist idols, her grieving mother Beverly, and her aunt Madeleine, a dying filmmaker.  

Not only are the characters memorable, the plot moves quickly too.  With the sheer number of characters involved in this tale and their complex backgrounds, this novel had the potential to be one of those character-driven works which move at a snail's pace.  Some people prefer this style of book and others like books that revolve around a compelling plot.  I feel that ultimately the best books are a combination of both and Alligator is a great example of it.  I found it hard to tear myself away from this book and often exclaimed out loud when a new plot twist was revealed. Even though it is always a risk to take a chance on an author whose works I've never read, in the case of Lisa Moore I'm glad that I took the risk and I look forward to reading her other books in future. 

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