Review originally published here
.Why I Read It:
Next in a series. I'm trying to read all the series that I've started in recent years as I have a nasty habit of reading the first boo in a series, loving it, and then not getting back to it for ages. I'm a little sad to report that I didn't think this book was as good as The Year of Secret Assignments. And if you read my review for THAT book, you already know that I didn't think it was as funny as Feeling Sorry For Celia. So it kind of feels like this series has been getting progressively less funny, BUT!! Considering just HOW funny this series was to begin with, The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie is still a humorous Aussie romp. I enjoyed it the least out of the series thus far, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it at all, because I did.
So instead of following the Pen Pal Project, this volume of the Ashbury/Brookfield series follows Bindy Mackenzie, an over-studious young woman who thinks quite highly of herself. Through her transcripts (she likes to observe other people and their conversations), diary entries and philosophical musings, Moriarty paints the life of an annoying, albeit lonely girl who ultimately learns that she doesn't have life figured out.
Before jumping into this title I perused a few reviews to see what I was getting myself into. Most people were of the opinion that Bindy is EXTREMELY ANNOYING. It's true that Bindy is completely full of herself and looks down on everyone around (including most adults), but she was such a caricature that I could never take her 100% seriously, which kept me from disliking her outright. She also Learns A Lesson which obviously helps, and she does so without compromising her character. Reading about her family life through some of her older diary entries and her e-mails to her father were heart-breaking and helped to garner sympathy from me for superior attitude.
Another common complaint I noticed is that this book is too long. Clocking in at almost 500 pages, I would have to agree. A lot of the entries that FEEL pointless do ultimately contribute to the crazy conclusion of the story, but there were a few other things that felt superfluous. For example, Bindy has these memos that are meant for "Philosophical Musings", and she also keeps a Dream Dictionary. Aside from developing Bindy's personality a little more, they serve next to no purpose and I found myself mostly skimming them.
And here some spoilery bits because the ending weirded the hell out of me and I need to talk about it.
Okay, now the second half of the novel was definitely better than the first, but I was BAFFLED by the ending. It all made sense and Moriarty tied all her loose ends together, but the tone of the novel was completely turned on its head!! When Bindy's (new) friends concoct their stupid conspiracy that someone must be poisoning Bindy, I kept laughing and shaking my head at how ridiculous they were being (as was Bindy). And then, you find out that she IS being poisoned. And then someone tries to KILL BINDY!! FOR REALS. That weird ass "twist" knocked the wind out of me. Like I said, it worked and there weren't any plot holes (that I could find) but this is supposed to a HUMOUR book. Moriarty does usually balance her humour with heavier themes, but she brought this to a whole new level.
Final Verdict: This was my least favourite book of the Ashbury/Brookfield series thus far, but there's still a lot to like. Yeah, Bindy's initially an annoying character, but I could never take her completely seriously anyway, so she didn't seem that bad to me. The story itself seems like your typical "Annoying Person Learns a Life Lesson", and it IS that, but then ends up being something COMPLETELY different by the end. All the clues are there, but the ending still felt like it came out nowhere, which is still baffling me. I liked it okay, but it was WEIRD. I also wish this novel had been trimmed up a bit. There are some bits that are obviously important and needed to be there (even if they didn't seem important initially) but there was so much that felt like extra. Regardless, this was a good book and I can't wait to read the next book in the Ashbury/Brookfield series.