Thursday, November 22, 2012

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Book Review: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie



Things to know up front...

Recommended to: mystery fans, Agatha Christie fans

Rating: 11/10 10/10

Content:
  • It's basically a murder mystery, and a twisted one at that. It isn't necessarily what you'd call gory or graphic, but it is a bit disturbing, especially since it is continuous murder, and not just a murder and then an investigation.
  • A few utterances of "damn" and its derivatives. 
  • No sexual content. There are a few references to "loose" women and one character recalls an acquaintance with a former servant who was "immoral" and had gotten pregnant outside of marriage. These instances are very brief, and not something that's likely to stick out to you. 
  • Overall, it's something that can be enjoyed by a wide variety of age groups probably starting around middle school age and up. 
And Then There Were None tells a tale of ten strangers, all summoned to the well-known Indian Island under different pretenses that they ultimately discover to be false. As they all wait for the arrival of their host, they are surprised by suddenly hearing all of their names rattled off, along with a past misdeed that ended in someone dying. Almost immediately, one of them dies from cyanide poisoning. They conclude that all of them were not drawn there for the reason that they thought, and all of the rest begin to get picked off one by one in similar ways as found in the nursery rhyme "Ten Little Indians":
"Ten little Indian boys went out to dine; 
One choked his little self and then there were nine.
Nine little Indian boys sat up very late;
One overslept himself and then there were eight.
Eight little Indian boys traveling in Devon;
One said he’d stay there and then there were seven.
Seven little Indian boys chopping up sticks;
One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.
Six little Indian boys playing with a hive;
A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.
Five little Indian boys going in for law,
One got in Chancery and then there were four.
Four little Indian boys going out to sea;
A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.
Three little Indian boys walking in the Zoo;
A big bear hugged one and then there were two.
Two little Indian boys sitting in the sun;
On got frizzled up and then there was one.
One little Indian boy left all alone;
He went and hanged himself and then there were none."

After searching the small island, they come to the conclusion that the murderer must be one of them, but who? What follows is a mystery that keeps glued in your reading spot until you've finished it and discovered the shocking end. 

The Positives:

-It keeps you guessing. I can honestly say that I had no idea what was going on until the very end. I had several ideas in my head about how and why things went down, but I turned out to be wrong on every count. Nothing is ever what it seems in this book, and that's just plain awesome. 

-It's a pure adrenaline rush. My heart was pounding through the last 30 pages! Even after I finished it, I sat there for awhile, and about jumped out of my skin when I heard a gunshot outside because I was still so jazzed...Oh, and it might be necessary to mention that I live in the country, and baby, it's gun season, thus making a gunshot not very alarming (:

-It's exactly the right pace and length. It wasn't some long, dragged out affair, but it wasn't rushed through, either, though those 275 pages still flew by, let me tell you!

-It's riveting. On the third day of my reading this, after two evenings of just reading until I quickly went to sleep, I started out on about page 70, and finished it in two more hours of reading. I was reluctant to even get up to eat! 

-The writing. It's not poetic or flowery, and that's exactly how it should be. Agatha Christie never tried to distract from the plot with some deep and out of place passage. Instead, she keeps you in this crazy good murder story, which is exactly where you want to be. It's not until after you've finished the story that you realize the subtle underlying question: who gets to judge the right and wrongs that go unnoticed, and who gets to dole out the punishment? 

-The way the murders match up to the poem. It's not so literal that you'll go "Oh, come on," but the link to it is still maintained very nicely. And those ten little porcelain Indians that disappear with each new murder? Just bone-chilling, eerie perfection.

-The ending. Can I tell you all about it? Yes, of course I can. Will I? No, of course I won't. However, I will inform you that it is cuh-razayyy. 

The Negatives:

-Sometimes the way the characters handle themselves seems a little ridiculous. I mean, you just had several people die in the past couple days, and you're still asking if anyone wants a cup of tea? Shouldn't you be crying hysterically and rocking in the corner instead? But then again, that's just me nitpicking. 

-There is a minor plot hole near the end. But I'm not gonna lie to you, I didn't realize it until I read something online about it. It's the only real flaw in the plot. 

Overall

It's spectacular! It's even better than Murder on the Orient Express! I feel convinced that this is a book that, even though I now know the ending, I will come back to several more times. I'm even going to mentally add this to my list of favorites! I will recommend this high and low, and I certainly recommend it to anyone that gets stuck at home for a day! Put in a few hours of reading for it, and I promise you won't regret it! 

4 comments:

  1. Great review. I loved this book

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  2. Hi Emily,
    new follower here :). I found you via Ruby Ham's blog. And I'm very pleased about Agatha Christie being still so relevant to nowadays readers! I'm, let's say, an ex teenager...who has been reading AC since I was around ten, I think. ATTWN is one of her best books, because of its originality...I'd also recommend you (and everyone else LOL) The Murder of Roger Ackroyd for the very same reason - and if you care for a different side of Christie's craft, try Endless Night (no Poirot or Miss Marple there, a 1st person narration from a male character, and a surprising, different plot. Though it doesn't really read like a mystery till the last pages).

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    1. Oh my gosh, thank you! I think that all of her novels are brilliant, but I've been struggling to find any that quite match the excitement of And Then There Were None or Murder on the Orient Express! I'll be sure to check these out!

      Thank you for the follow as well; I really appreciate it! (:

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    2. Thank you for following me as well!

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