Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Secret To Lying Book Review

Post by Kerrie
A few weeks ago, award-winning YA author Todd Mitchell came to the NCW studio to teach a workshop on plotting and shaping compelling stories. During his presentation, he talked about how important it is for authors to hurt their main character and bring them to the lowest point possible, because then, the readers have the joy of watching this character emerge from the depths of despair to triumph.

In Mitchell’s latest book, The Secret to Lying, he illustrates this technique beautifully.The story centers around James, a fifteen-year-old who is not happy with his small town life. When he gets the opportunity to go to the American Science and Mathematics Academy public boarding school, he jumps at the chance. No one at the new school knows him so he realizes he can now be anyone he wants to be and that’s where the lies begin.

He starts creating stories and paints himself as this rebellious, trouble-making street fighter. His new friends eat this up and he goes from being a Nobody to a Somebody. All goes well until James starts getting instant messages from ghost44 who claims to know the truth about him.

Mitchell does an incredible job with character development. He takes us beneath the surface to reveal different layers and depth of each character, creating intrigue for the reader.

He then follows his own advice to hurt the hero. We watch as James rises to the top and crashes to the bottom. And just when we think it can’t get any worse for him, Mitchell “kicks” him one more time. As the readers, we empathize with James and wonder how he is going to get himself out of the mess he created.

Because Mitchell drew us in so skillfully at the beginning, when we get to the crisis point in the book we are invested in the characters, especially James and we want to see him rise up to be the hero we know he can be.

This is why this is such a good read and why it is a book I highly recommend to anyone who has ever tried to reinvent themselves.

Have you ever tried to be something you are not?



Heidi Windmiller said...

I also really enjoyed this book because of the characters. I read it a few months ago, but can still remember most of the characters very clearly--a good sign!

Todd Mitchell said...

Wow --thanks for this beautiful, and brilliant review, Kerrie. I like how you've so deftly encapsulated the book without giving anything away. But man, I sound like such a sadist. Then again --I suppose that's what writers are. We create these imaginary characters lovingly, then put them through hell, because where else do good stories come from?
Thanks for the post!

Patricia Stoltey said...

I enjoyed The Secret to Lying so much that I plan to give away a copy on my blog. Might as well keep on spreading the word. Todd's class was excellent too. I hope he gives more NCW classes in the future.

Kerrie said...

Todd, I don't know if I would call you a sadist, but I did have this image of you literally kicking James when I wrote this post. :-)

Pat, let me know when you give away The Secret To Lying and I will help spread the word. I hope Todd will teach more classes at NCW as well.

Dean K Miller said...

Buy the book, wait for the give-away? Hurting the main character does sound a bit sadistic, but the really good stories do just that.

Maybe it's time to think about a few revisions.

Thanks for the review. Another on the list to read.

Chuck said...

Just stopped by to say hi. Lord knows Ive spent a lot of years trying to be something I'm not.

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