Dismantled by Jennifer McMahon


I was so excited to be given this book which had arrived at the bookstore where I used to work. The manager there knew I was a huge fan of McMahon’s novel Promise Not to Tell, and so she passed this along. Dismantled is the story of the Compassionate Dismantlers, four art students: Tess, Henry, Winnie and the charismatic Suz. The Compassionate Dismantlers believe that “to understand the nature of a thing you have to take it apart.” What they really believe, it seems, is that you can ruin someone’s career and set fires and manipulate lives for your own personal gain. At the end of their post-graduation summer in a cabin by the lake, Suz is dead and the remaining Dismantlers go their separate ways. Flash forward ten years. Henry and Tess are unhappily married and have a 10 year old daughter, Emma. Winnie has had her own struggles with mental illness. A simple act by Emma sets off a chain of events with far reaching consequences.

Dismantled was a big disappointment for me and it truly pains me to say that because I loved Promise Not To Tell and encouraged everyone I know to read it. For me, there was just too much going on. Was Dismantled a novel about a failing marriage, infidelity, the nature of art, childhood fears, imaginary friends, ghosts – real and imagined? Was it a mystery? Was it a ghost story? Was it a novel about revenge?

Honestly, I really struggled to finish Dismantled and only kept going because I thought maybe the end would justify the rest.  I didn’t like any of the characters and worse, I didn’t care about any of them.

Read Promise Not to Tell instead.

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8 responses to “Dismantled by Jennifer McMahon

  1. Isnt it sad when a book you are really really looking forward to isnt as good as you hoped it would be? I absolutely hate that and get really really grumpy!

    • Yep. I was really bummed because I had BIG love for Promise Not To Tell. She’s written one other book and I will give it a go, but with trepidation now.

  2. This one was tough to keep interested in. I LOVED Promise Not to Tell; great review.

    • Diane,
      I am glad to know that I am not the only reader who felt that Dismantled was a bit of a dog’s breakfast…and that Promise Not To Tell was vastly superior!

  3. Oh I hate that….. that has happened to me… just this weekend actually….

  4. justicejenniferreads

    I’m so sorry to hear that this was such a disappointment. I guess sometimes authors just get carried away and put a little too much into one work. It sounds like this novel could have been split up into many different novels that probably would have been developed better.

    I’ll add Promise Not to Tell to my TBR list.

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