(This review contains minor spoilers and mentions of rape. Read at your own discretion.)
Snapshots at the Fontaine Motel is a novel about six teenagers—Kelly, Jill, Ford, Matt, Berger, and Fawn—who are inseparable since kindergarten. So inseparable, in fact, that when Berger accidentally murders bully and rapist, Mason, in an act of vigilante justice, they all pile into Berger’s van and drive off to Oklahoma to escape their crimes. With the FBI suddenly hot on their tails and time quickly ticking down, they stop at the Fontaine Motel in the ‘middle of nowhere Oklahoma’ to figure out their next move.
I’ll be honest. If this book wasn’t sent to me by Harris himself, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. But it had me from the very first chapter and by the end, I was blown away. It was such a page turner, had me feeling tense and excited with every paragraph. A testament to how gripping it was is that even though I have a PDF copy on my laptop, the Internet didn’t sidetrack me once. I only put it down because my eyes couldn’t stand being open for long late at night.
Despite it being a story about six people, everyone had their own unique personality that sets them apart from the others. There’s no way you could mix them up. Even when the story is told from a few perspectives, you still had a sense of what everyone was like. You really get to know them, feel what they feel, as opposed to just reading what happened to them. You become invested in their each and every one of their stories. And everyone was likeable—even the antagonists at first. Everyone’s relationship with each other felt natural and genuine, which comes with the fact that they’ve all been friends since kindergarten, but that’s besides the point. And even when the relationships develop into something more, it didn’t feel forced at all. Everything flowed and came together as any real life relationships would. I applaud Harris for that because that’s an incredible feat to pull off.
I love the humour in it as well. Sarcasm and witty banter is prevalent, balancing out the more serious topics the story tackles—things like discrimination (with some characters being gay), growing up in abusive households, and actual crime and murder.
Some bits of characterisation, usually through thoughts or internal monologues, slowed down the plot. As in the information may have something related with the situation, but it doesn’t mean that we need to know this about the character at the present moment. I love the addition of pop culture references as well. But I do think it gets a bit heavy-handed on occasions and distracted me from the story a little bit. Also, is the FBI allowed to bring civilians with them during an arrest or any situation of the like? It seems unlikely to me, but I don’t know enough about the FBI or watch enough cop shows to verify this.
I had a feeling there was going to be a twist, that something was off, but even then it still took my by surprise. It was more action-packed than I anticipated (and gorier). Some moments felt like it was written for the movies; I flew through them.
Snapshots at the Fontaine Motel is well-written book with a strong premise, brilliant execution, and a lovely, hopeful message at the end. It was true to life and you can’t help but sympathise with the characters. The action and humour complements the more serious subjects the book discusses, but doesn’t take away from it whatsoever. I recommend it to those who love action and suspense in their novels.
If you’ve made it this far into my post, thank you for reading! Have you read Snapshots at the Fontaine Motel? If so, what did you think? If not, would you consider it? Let me know in the comments and I’ll see you in my next post!
Until next time,