Thursday, November 6, 2014


The Night Gwen Stacy Died is the story of two young runaways who are modeling their lives after Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. Sheila is 17 yrs old and works at a gas station in Coralville Iowa. She dreams of moving to Paris one day, but then comes to realize how unrealistic that dream is. Peter Parker is a 20-something taxi driver who often stops in at the gas station where Sheila works. He lives with his mother and is still haunted by his brother's suicide many years before. Though Peter and Sheila rarely talk, she finds herself oddly attracted to him.

One night Peter Parker comes in with a gun. He wants Sheila to run away with him. She agrees and they make it look like he robbed and abducted her. They drive to Chicago. Peter has prophetic dreams and feels that they were supposed to come to Chicago. Sheila takes the name Gwen Stacy and they find jobs while Peter tries to figure out why they are there.

The book is kind of hard to explain because there is a lot of symbolism and different themes-- Peter has prophetic dreams, Sheila takes on Gwen's persona, she also has a strange connection to the taxidermy coyote in the University of Iowa's Natural History Museum, and coyotes show up numerous times throughout the book. You can interpret that as you will.

I found the story compelling though I felt it needed a bit more character development. I didn't always understand Sheila's actions. The books switches between voices and I enjoyed hearing situations from both Sheila's and Peter's perspectives. The pacing of the book is a bit slow in the middle but it really picked up near the end and I found the ending to be satisfying, yet I want to hear more of their story.

It's a little offbeat, and won't appeal to everyone. I found it to be a satisfying mix of Jennifer Egan and of Spider-man.      

No comments: