3.5 stars A woman's fiancé disappears at a rest stop, and she's terrorized by a sadistic unknown person who directs her to do unspeakable things in or3.5 stars A woman's fiancé disappears at a rest stop, and she's terrorized by a sadistic unknown person who directs her to do unspeakable things in order to save the one she loves. Some mild but very general spoilers below.
The first half of this book is like a slasher torture porn-type horror movie. (If you're at all squeamish, this is definitely not the book for you.) Kristine is relentlessly pursued and pushed to her limits, forced to debase herself and harm others; while the fast-paced callousness of these acts are pretty mindless, credit is due for the adrenaline-spiked sequence of events.
By the middle, it's revealed who's doing this to her. I don't think it's that hard to guess, and the reasoning behind the sadist's fixation on Kristine seems specious at best. Still, once you get past the usual confrontations, things become interesting in the last third or so as the stakes are suddenly raised for Kristine and she begins to fight back. I wasn't sure the level of detail in her flashbacks was entirely necessary, but eventually I appreciated how they revealed a hidden strength in her that you wouldn't have previously guessed, and how this sets up the final climactic fight.
This isn't on the same level as the genre thriller writers I enjoy most, though; while there's one scene that has a bit of sicko Gretchen Lowell to it (actually, it's very similar to a scene in BIRDMAN that is much more horrifying in its subtlety), the book lacks Karin Slaughter's nuanced characterization, methodical procedure, and moments of piercing vulnerability. It also doesn't have the delicious cat-and-mouse quality of Chelsea Cain's books, nor the undercurrent of fascinated repulsion or numb despair that makes her victims seem human and real. SWERVE's killer has the exact back story you'd expect, and the relationships displayed aren't terribly convincing or complex. Kristine and her daughter could use more development as well, particularly in the first half. This is the author's first thriller, however, so I'd be interested in seeing what she does with her next one; she definitely has enough inventiveness and a certain gift for frenetic pacing that keeps you on your toes.
This should've started out as a $7.99 mass market paperback, though. It's the kind of thing that's entertaining plane reading, not necessarily something I'd buy as an expensive hardback and keep on my shelf to reread. It's fun but not of the same caliber as other thrillers of this type. (I know, I know, when has that ever stopped them from over-charging.)...more
1. It's who you think it is. 2. The pacing is alllll over the place. And there's no tension, which is saying a lot when there's a violent bludgeoning.1. It's who you think it is. 2. The pacing is alllll over the place. And there's no tension, which is saying a lot when there's a violent bludgeoning. 3. The main character willfully won't believe the evidence before her to the point of stupidity, and because she's also not at all interesting, it's exasperating waiting for everything to sink in. I love unlikeable protagonists when they make you think/feel things, but this one does neither. 4. I'm not an overly PC person, but the treatment (view spoiler)[ / demonization (hide spoiler)] of the sole character with a birth defect/physical abnormality was pretty offensive to me. It's 2016, aren't we done with this by now?...more