The Readymade Thief
17-year-old Lee escapes from juvie, stumbles into conspiracies and a secret society, escapes, and starts exploring the abandoned underground of Philadelphia. And that's just the first 100 pages. Agh. I wanted to like this book: art history + conspiracies + female protagonist all seemed really up my alley. But, I just didn't find the character of Lee very believable. Yes, she was put in a lot of really tough and terrible situations, but the realism fell away at many points for me. And it was disturbing to think of all the violence heaped on one young girl; at points, it felt like trauma for the sake of trauma, not necessary for the plot.
A lot of the story centered around a piece of artwork called The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) made by Marcel Duchamp from 1915 to 1923, which is on view in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Lee becomes the focus of this group called the Societe Anonyme because she looks like the woman who Duchamp modeled the Bride after in his art. Theres a lot of drugs and violence and honestly I kept reading because I just wanted Lee to be OK and be happy.
But the plot — moving along at a normal pace in the first third — just picks up out of nowhere and emotional repercussions of big things are not dealt with (see: Lee not being very believable). As one reviewer wrote on Goodreads, "it felt like Rose had written half of a great literary novel and then suddenly remembered, 'Oh, right, I eventually need to sell the movie rights to this sucker!,' throwing himself feet-first into the most hackneyed stereotypical cheese he could possibly dream up; it's at that point that the plot suddenly becomes outrageous, the conspiracy theories are cranked up to 11, all the new characters suddenly become cardboard cutouts, and the technology that drives it all becomes laughably implausible." Amen.
Not really worth a read, but kinda fun if you're into Duchamp and/or thrillers. Rating: ★★★