Paige Alexander is one of the daughters of the rich and famous Alexanders. What looks like a blessing from the outside is actually a curse; Paige and her twin sister are estranged and their parents are nothing short of tyrannical. After a fail suicide attempt, she starts college, away from home. She escapes her parents only to find herself in the throes of rising anti-gay sentiment on campus. Will she manage to find solace and triumph over those who would see her fall?
Marionette, T.B. Markinson's second novel, is a thoroughly enjoyable read. The author has managed to create personable characters whose lives hook the reader and make them want to know more. Each member of the little group that grows around the main character has its own personality, its own quirks which makes them very easy to picture. The verisimilitude of Paige's inner struggle is quite impressive. The reader is not tricked in feeling sorry for the girl, rather, it wants to see how she will handle the situation and get out of imbroglios. I personally quite enjoyed the evolution of Paige and Liddy's (her therapist) relationship. I believe anyone who has ever seen a psychiatrist will understand the complexity that is beautifully rendered by Markinson's words.
Speaking of which, the author's prose is easy to read without being economical. It is easy to see that this novel had been reworked and edited numerous times achieve such a good level of writing. I didn't notice anything specific about it (except maybe the occasional overused expression – "like a moth to a flame") which is good, because it means that it doesn't get in the way the story. I would love to read Markinson's next novel to see how her prose evolved. She indubitably has a lot of potential as a writer.
For the most part, the structure of the novel was good. There were no loose ends left dangling when the conclusion was reached and the pace was skillfully set as to keep the reader wanting more. The ending pleased me until I reached the part about her parents. I had been wondering for a while what was going to happen to them or how they were going to get involved but what befell them felt a bit too convenient, as bit too deus ex machina. Although I think they got what they deserved, I feel they (as well as Paige's twin sister Abbie) should have been more actively present throughout the book. That way, their involvement wouldn't have felt so sudden.
Lastly, I can't stress enough how I enjoyed reading a story about college students who don't own a cellphone. The story is set in 1992, yet Markinson doesn't overweight it with constant pop culture references. It was very refreshing and, somehow, reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Despite its small flaws, Marionette is a great read. I strongly recommend it.