Spencer Blackwell has been a very bad boy. Readers of VAIN met Spencer when he attempted to capture the heart of Sophie both before and after her experience in Uganda. This exchange between them in VAIN sets us up nicely for GREED.
“I can’t do that,” he said, exhaling sharply and staring out the glass into the street.
His face softened. “I need his money.”
Spencer looked at me, and I couldn’t help but stare back. We were all in the same boat, prisoners to greed.
Spencer needs money because he just…NEEDS it. He needs to escape his maniacally evil father. He needs to escape his negligent mother. He needs MORE money…so he keeps on carrying out the sinful acts that allow a college-aged man earn millions for his Swiss bank account. When will he have enough? What will he do to earn enough? Just how much IS enough?
Ah…that’s the question, now isn’t it?
Spencer’s Achilles heel is his sister, Bridget. She’s 17 and has a BIG problem. While home on Christmas break from Brown University, he has to decide if he wants to continue to make more money (while sacrificing more pieces of his soul, naturally) or run from his indentured life and save his sister in the process.
Spencer and Bridge’s relocation to a Montana cattle ranch is the setting for a classic morality play. Taking a page from VAIN’s playbook, the Blackwells must cast off their lives of privilege and get their hands dirty in the real world. The satisfaction of an honest day’s work, meeting authentic people, and casting off the trappings of their L.A. lifestyle change Bridge and Spencer quickly and measurably.
And then, of course, there is Cricket. She’s nothing Spencer’s ever even known to wish for. She doesn’t meet any of his usual WASP-y criteria.
Cricket had obliterated it, just annihilated my previous criteria. She only shared a few attributes on the list, but I’d discovered something that evening that startled me. It didn’t matter to me what I wanted before, because I somehow didn’t want that anymore. I wanted someone short, thin and wispy with chin-length dark hair. Someone with grit, with gumption, with personality, with character, with humor. Someone who represented feisty, capable and talented. Someone like Cricket. Cricket was my new criteria.
Cricket’s extended family owns and works the ranch and she wastes no time showing Spencer what life can really be like without $5000 outfits and white collar crime. Spencer offers Cricket a few insights as well, encouraging her to be true to her dreams and to not kowtow to perceived family obligations. Life appears simpler in Montanta, but people remain complicated no matter where you roam.
Fisher Amelie continues to impress with her unique voice and fresh take on struggles as old as humankind. Spencer’s point of view is decidedly heavier-handed than Sophie’s was in VAIN. Sophie felt. Spencer KNOWS. But he doesn’t, of course, know half as much as he’s convinced he does. Amelie allows Spencer to experience his evolution, comment on it, learn from it, and act on his newfound knowledge seamlessly, never showing the reader how he’s stitched together.
I also continue to be impressed by Amelie’s ability to keep sexual tension building in a story without a hint explicit sex. Like VAIN, GREED is perfect for teens and adults alike. The undertones of GREED are steeped in decidedly American-feeling conservative ideals more so than VAIN, where the African orphanage’s conservative nature wasn’t quite as easy a dot to connect to. Social mores aside, it’s a deft handling of a particular point of view. Always directing, but never demanding, GREED unfolds slowly but ultimately ends in typical FIsher fashion…with an unapologetic Happily Ever After.
Find Fisher Amelie and GREED on the interwebs