Tunnel Vision fails to thrill
From the synopsis, Tunnel Vision by Susan Shaw sounds like it will be a very intense story: a teenage girl, Liza, pushes her way through a group of scary men one evening on her way home, only to have her mother shot dead a few seconds later, forcing Liza and her father into the witness protection program. Unfortunately, the majority of the excitement in the novel happens at the very beginning and very end of the book, leaving a whole lot of blank space in the middle where not much occurs so that, despite being less than three hundred pages, Tunnel Vision seems way too long.
Although I want to call the book a young adult thriller, there is in fact very little that is thrilling about Tunnel Vision, despite a constant atmosphere of danger and the regularity of Sopranos-esque events in Liza’s life. In reality, the writing with which the story is told feels quite dull and leaves the reader, even at the very last page, full of unanswered questions after the book takes what seems like a full 180 from where it had been heading.
In addition, Liza’s voice just doesn’t feel genuine and she definitely sounds a lot younger than 16 years old. The only possible explanation I have is that the grief Liza feels makes her become child-like, but I think that’s pushing it. Liza’s voice is unbelievable enough that the reader never forgets she is just a character, a fact that detracts a lot from the potential impact that Tunnel Vision could have had. It is pretty hard to fear for a fictional life, one belonging to a character you never really become invested in or learn much about (besides for her playing basketball, which didn’t particularly make me care about her as a person), especially when she is as whiny and annoying as Liza is; granted, she has a lot to complain about, but it’s still not fun to read.
Also, this may be a personal pet peeve, but there is a character called Jellyfish Carter. Jellyfish. At some point, quite late into Tunnel Vision, Shaw lets the reader know this is a nickname, but there is still no explanation for how a person could possibly have such a nickname, and it is just jarring and out of place.
Although this novel was clearly not for me as a reader, its movie-like (ie., completely outrageous) thriller plot may make it engaging for some readers, although likely of a middle grade rather than young adult audience. Ultimately, Tunnel Vision had a riveting premise, an exciting beginning and a shocking, although not ultimately rewarding, ending. But over two hundred pages of dull writing left me looking for a light at the end of tunnel… and not in a good way.