Book Review – Ripper by Isabel Allende

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The blurb on the back of the book describes the basic outline for the plot, which is that Amanda, a young girl, is part of an online roleplaying game called Ripper, in which she, her grandfather, and a few other teenagers all try and solve fictional murders. But then her interest gets piqued by some real life murders, and the group turns their attention to that, especially when more murders occur and they begin to suspect a serial killer is at large.

Sounds pretty interesting, right? I like role-playing games and the concept of one where you play detectives is intriguing and oh how I wish the book had actually been about that. What the book actually concerns is the love life of Amanda’s mother, Indiana, and the ripper game feels like a side note. And I wouldn’t even mind that so much if the characters had been interesting and well-rounded. There are so many characters involved in this book and they keep getting introduced even at the 200 page mark, which is almost halfway through the book. For a thriller this lacks any kind of suspense, and the crimes are basically footnotes in the saga of Indiana’s relationship problems.

The two main men in her life are Alan Keller, a wealthy man who she loves and has been involved with for four years, but who has never shown any sign of being able to commit, and Ryan, an ex-Navy SEAL who has anger management issues and a problem with alcohol. It’s not exactly original stuff and the scenes between these three characters are well-worn and familiar, and because the cast of characters is so large I never felt like I was given a chance to form an emotional connection to any of them. I get the impression from the acknowledgments that this is the author’s first time writing a thriller, and it’s severely lacking in intrigue and suspense, and these two ingredients give way to vapid relationship drama which comes off as inconsequential and uninvolving.

The initial concept is a good one, and I wish there had been more focus on the roleplaying group but as it is Ripper comes across as a bloated work that places far too much attention on too many characters that do not warrant it. And the final sentence is so trite that I rolled my eyes. Not for me at all, give this one a pass.

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