One wants to like Esther, who has the potential to rise above it all, but she fails us:
“No matter how much plastic surgery,” she thinks, looking at female competitors in a bar, “they would never be as physically attractive as she was at this very moment.” This is not the stuff revelations are made of. A reader wants the entire little planet on which these little people live — the mall and the strip of Southern California real estate, to perish in a great conflagration, James Bond style.
But no. To Patterson’s credit, she goes down with the ship. These people are beyond salvation. Esther has a mini-epiphany: “For the first time, she was paying attention to people on the sidelines of wealth.” It’s not enough for us to root for her. No, these people will continue feeding the image forge and cranking out empty, desperate hollow men and women until the end of time.
The good news is that novels enter the bloodstream with greater permanence than television shows. And this one has a great big sign over the entryway: Do Not End Up Like This.”