Literature / Ten

Meg and her best friend Minnie are among ten Seattle teens invited to a weekend party on Henry Island. Everyone expects to have a good time away from civilization, with their booze, boys, and other luxuries.

Until people start dying.

Ten by Gretchen McNeil is a Young Adult mystery, which is a Spiritual Successor to And Then There Were None, but in modern day Seattle, and with teens. Although Meg is designated as the protagonist and it's initially unclear to the partygoers that there is a murderer killing them, everyone is guilty of something, and if the murderer doesn't get to them first, their problems will.

Not to confuse with the manga Ten or the film Ten.

This book provides examples of:

  • Anyone Can Die: Although Meg survives, Minnie doesn't.
  • Ax-Crazy: The killer proves to be clearly wrong in the head.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: The climax occurs on a fiery boat.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Meg and T.J. survives together, and the killer's dead. On the other hand, ten people have died because of Tom, Meg had almost killed T.J., and the survivors are probably going to need lots of therapy.
  • Black Dude Dies First: The characters discuss more than once about how T.J. might die first because he's black. He doesn't die first. It becomes an inversion because he's one of the two surviving victims.
  • Closed Circle: Not only a storm happens to come, but the electricity and phone lines are cut off, the keys to the boat are stolen, and the ferry's not scheduled to arrive.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Tom burned Ben to unrecognition just a day before the story starts so he could take his place and act as a Red Herring.
  • Disney Death: T.J. was just playing possum after Meg shoots him in the shoulder and comes back to help defeat Tom.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: As cruel as some of the victims were to Claire, none of their acts are malicious or intentional enough to justify death.
  • Driven to Suicide: In the backstory, Clare, a student at Meg's school, had recently committed suicide. She's the reason why everyone's getting killed off.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The story starts in the afternoon, one full day passes, and everything ends at the second sunrise.
  • Faking the Dead: Tom pretends to be dead in order to move about freely.
  • Fiery Coverup: Tom burns Ben into an unidentifiable corpse in order to take his place.
  • Final Girl: Meg, the protagonist, is one of two surviving victims at the end of the ordeal.
  • For the Evulz: Although Tom claims that he is delivering vigilante justice, his Guilt by Association reasoning with Meg, and the "collateral damage" with the elderly couple suggest that he's psycho.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In the end, Tom gets caught in the fiery boat that he meant to put Meg in.
  • Karmic Death: The murderer kills everyone off based on events that led to Claire's sucicide. For example, Lori, the girl that "stole" a singing role from, gets her vocal cords crushed by a noose. In the end though, the killer discards the poetic kills for some thrills for himself.
  • Love Triangle: T.J. and Meg would be a couple, except Minnie's irrational crush on him makes everything complicated between all three of them.
  • Misplaced Retribution: Meg didn't even do the offense Tom thought she did, therefore being the only "innocent" victim. Doesn't stop him pulling the Guilt by Association card.
  • Murder-Suicide: The killer tries to get T.J, Meg, and Minnie to kill each other while thinking the others are the true murderer. It doesn't work.
  • One-Word Title: Also a Title by Number
  • Only the Leads Get a Happy Ending: Although Minnie dies, Meg (the protagonist) and T.J. (the love interest) survives.
  • Poetic Serial Killer: See Karmic Death.
  • Posthumous Character: Played with. The characters theorize that Claire might be extracting her revenge. It turns out that she's dead all along.
  • Ten Little Murder Victims: Throughout the book, the characters go from thinking the first deaths were accidents, to thinking someone else is in the house, to thinking one of them is the killer. The killer took the place of one of the victims.
  • Those Two Guys: Nathan and Kenny stay together more often than Meg and Minnie. The former duo died around the same time in the same area.
  • Title by Number: Also a One-Word Title.
  • Vigilante Man: The killer is offing everyone to avenge Claire's suicide.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Lori is the first to go.