Author: Will Lavender
Release Date: July 5, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Alex Shipley is a professor at Harvard who has returned to her alma mater after the suicide of a beloved classmate. Fifteen years ago, Alex, along with eight other students, was an undergraduate in a night class taught by Richard Aldiss, a former literature professor who was sentenced to life in prison for murdering two of his students. Through a TV feed, Aldiss took his students on a ride to unravel a literary mystery through a game called “The Procedure.” Now, it looks as though someone is playing The Procedure again, and Alex’s life and those of her fellow classmates might be in danger.
If you think my summary of Dominance sounds a little bit vague and convoluted, you are probably right – this is an incredibly difficult book to describe. What’s more, I didn’t include some of the information the reader discovers within the first ten pages of the book because part of the pleasure of reading the novel is finding out these key pieces of information for yourself. The best way I can describe Dominance is as a literary puzzle in which you can’t trust anyone and can’t be certain of anything.
Alex is a great narrator for the novel. She’s somewhat naïve, but is smart and capable. She is loyal to her friends, sometimes to a fault. She is committed and willing to see things through, from beginning to end. This makes her perfect for this book, where The Procedure requires its players to be completely committed and willing to go to any lengths in order to win. At the same time, though, Alex is not ruthless and has enough sense to understand how dangerous the game can be.
The highlight of Dominance is the twisty puzzle that makes up its plot. The book jumps in time from the night class to the present day, so the reader doesn’t have all the information up front. The reader is learning about the night class at the same time that present day events are unfolding. Lavender builds up suspense like an expert; the two storylines are intertwined, and are incredibly tautly woven. Each thread has its place in this intricate story, and it’s up to the reader (and Alex Shipley) to deconstruct what it all means.
Dominance was a thrill ride from beginning to end, and it truly was a pleasure to read. This is a book you will want to read in one sitting; it’s so suspenseful that readers won’t be able to put it down as they race towards the shocking conclusion, one with a twist that will leave them reeling. It’s perfect for literature lovers because the entire novel is about bringing books to life; the only question is, how far is too far?