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I love to read just about anything, as long as it's fiction. I read for me - that means I read what I want, when I want. My reviews tend to mostly be based on how I'm able to personally connect with the story/characters. They are not intended to influence someone to read, or not read, a particular book. I always encourage people to take a chance and make up your own mind.

 

Oh, and I love chocolate.

Mud Vein

— feeling what?!?
Mud Vein - Tarryn Fisher

Um...

 

I'm not exactly sure how to review this book. I certainly didn't know how I wanted to rate it, so a middle of the road 3 seemed like the right approach.

 

First, I will say that this book is very different than most books I've read. It's dark and twisted and ugly, yet it has these rays of light that poke through in just the right places. It was very well written and certainly evoked emotions and images throughout the reading experience.

 

Now to the difficult part. I don't know how to break this down without giving away any spoilers. Because if you're going to read this, then you don't want to know what's going on.

 

I think the primary struggle I have with this book is that I'm not sure if I'm supposed to interpret it as actual events that happened to Senna and Isaac, or if it's supposed to be some sort of metaphorical story about love. I'll break it down both ways, just in case.

 

If it's supposed to be a real story...

 

The basics of the story is that Senna and Isaac have been kidnapped and placed in a cabin in the middle of what they assume is Alaska. They have enough food and supplies to last them a long time. There are these clues throughout the house that are connected in various ways to Senna. I like the concept of this. I like the twisted logic and the mind-F* games that the 'Zookeeper' plays with Senna and Isaac. What I didn't like is the implausibility of it. When we learn who the Zookeeper is, it just didn't feel real. There were too many unanswered questions for how the Zookeeper made this happen, and why. I get that there are messed up people out there and they do crazy s* just because they can. But I still don't get why this particular person did this to Senna and Isaac and how it was executed. I also get that in real life we don't get all the answers we want. However, it's clear that Fisher has a clever mind. The lack of information about how and why this happened almost made it feel like she gave up at that point and had nothing left in her bag of tricks to explain it further. Either that or she was just mind-F-ing us as readers....

 

While I didn't like Senna as a character, I'm OK with that. However, I wasn't OK with how she seemed to refuse to try and figure it out. In the beginning, she kept thinking that the appearance of things in the cabin that no one should know about was a 'coincidence'. Really? Senna is supposed to be a creative and talented author. I would think that it would have been truer to her character had she been working her brain from the start to figure out the puzzle. I mean, she could figure out the meaning behind the obscure painting next to the door, but not think that the Pink Zippos were deliberate? I just wanted to shake her most of the time. I do understand she had issues and shutting down feelings was a huge part of that, but come on - you're trapped and likely to die, try to figure it out. Senna said more than once she didn't think they were put there to die, so that means there's a puzzle to solve that would get them out.

 

Isaac - now I did like him. He felt real to me and his dedication to Senna was amazing. I liked that he stayed true to himself as long as possible - which is much longer than I would have expected given his feelings and their entire situation. 

 

The ending - while I appreciate the ending that Fisher gave us, it just felt flat to me. I wish I could explain why, but I can't explain it. We saw growth from Senna. I appreciated that there wasn't a happily ever after for all involved. I don't think this is a spoiler, by the way - I mean, the entire nature of the book is that life doesn't give a happily ever after so it just wouldn't fit.

 

Now, to my other theory - if this is just some sort of metaphor for love.

 

There are those of us in life who reject the kind of love that makes us better people. If you are so used to identifying with the darker sides of your soul, then when someone comes along and tries to illuminate it then it's threatening. Then there are those who don't need any sort of explanation for the way they feel. They just know who they belong with, and will sacrifice their own happiness just to make the other person happy. When these two different people collide, there's going to be an explosion of some sort. A happily ever after doesn't come unless the one side is willing to explore all the darkest recesses of their soul and gradually become comfortable being in the light. The other side has to have the strength to endure the time and pain it will take for the other person to get there. And, unfortunately, along the way life happens. Mud Vein tells us that if you wait too long to mess up your white walls, then you'll miss your chance - and I agree.

 

If this were the intention of the book, then I wish that Fisher would have taken a different direction with the ending. 

 

I wish that it would have all been in Senna's mind, that she was her own Zookeeper, and she could only escape her emotional imprisonment if she came to terms with her love for Isaac. Elgin could have still been the person Senna's mind envisioned as theZookeeper, because she was the person who was trying to force Senna to accept her feelings. It all could have still fit, and then I wouldn't have had any issues with the plausibility of the kidnapping. Fisher could have still kept the ending as it was. It all would have worked, and worked well. For me, going in this direction would have made this a massive 5-star book.

(show spoiler)

 

Ultimately, I'd say read the book if you're interested. Just be prepared to say, "WTF??" over and over and over and over...