Bonnie Shimko’s “You Know What You Have to Do” had me and then completely lost me in the respective journey. It tells of a young woman named Maggie who has more than a few issues to work out. This is the kind of dark humored novel that is either hit or miss, and by dark – I mean VERY dark. I once described this to someone as “Serial Mom” for teenagers, and that description is true, at least at first. Maggie has a voice inside her head that pretty much tells her to kill people or think some really morally trangressive thoughts. She’s at first kills those whom she thinks she deserves it (the first death occurs in the first chapter or so) and then she goes on like no one’s business, when really it affects her more than she lets on. She has a dark ironically humored voice that I caught several times, but some of it either was a complete miss or it couldn’t hold onto the fabric of where it began. It seemed like it didn’t know what it wanted to say through the narrative, ultimately, and in the end, it lost me by the time I got to the last page. It didn’t have the same grounded attachment for overall aim in following a morally trangressive hero/heroine as say Jeff Lindsay’s “Dexter”, or Barry Lyga’s “I Hunt Killers” series or even Dan Wells “John Cleaver” series.
I do think Shimko has an interesting narrative voice that could go in many potentially cool directions, but I think this had too many cons for pros – and it wasn’t necessarily a realistic read or a darkly humored read – it failed in both by toeing the line and never coming up towards either measure.
Overall score: 2/5 stars
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher.