Tuesday, July 12, 2016

{I've Been Reading} Lots of New Thrillers

I wasn't intending to start The Last One by Alexandra Oliva quite yet, but as I was loading review copies onto my Kindle and checking to make sure that they opened properly I read the first couple of lines. Two or three sentences had me hooked.

Alone in the wilderness, one of the contestants on "a reality experience of unprecedented scale" has reached her limit but refuses to give up. She hasn't seen another human being in weeks, but knows that hidden cameras and drones still track her every move, that the vacant gas stations and grizzly props she comes across were placed there to manipulate and torment her.

Family obligations meant that I could only read in chunks of stolen time, which was probably the best possible way to read this book. Between the interruptions of my life and the way the plot unfolds, it was just like binge watching a favorite reality series -- except this story is way better than any of the television shows I've watched!

Elka was seven years old and alone in the wilderness when a trapper took her in and taught her how to survive. Under his care, she's learned the ways of the wild but forgotten the name she was given at birth and the more civilized lessons her Nana once taught her. What she doesn't forget is the letter her parents wrote her before travelling north in search of the yellow metal that would bring them riches. That fragile bit of paper is long gone, but the words will always be a part of her. When Elka sees Trapper's face on a wanted poster and begins to realize that his hunting hasn't been limited to the animals of the forest, she makes her own way north hoping that her parents will welcome what shes' become. The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis is a dark journey through what's left of the world after The Big Stupid destroyed civilization. If you like dark, dystopian futures, you'll enjoy this one.

In contrast, I started Baby Doll by Hollie Overton way ridiculously one morning, which was perfect because I was able to finish the entire book before the rest of the family was out of bed. I loved this one and can't recommend it enough. Lily has been held prisoner and tortured in a single room for eight years...then one day her captor leaves without locking the door. This is the story of what happens after her escape and return to her real life. The cover copy reveals very few details and don't want to spoil it, which makes it extra hard to write a review. The things that I want to talk about most are the exact things I feel like I shouldn't reveal. If you liked Room or Still Missing or  Method 15/33, I  think this will appeal to you. I almost read Baby Doll because I was afraid that it would be too gruesome, but the author leaves the worst horrors of Lily's captivity behind her.

All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker is the complete opposite of Baby Doll. After a teenager is brutally raped at a party she is medicated to block her memories of the attack. While Jenny was spared the details what happened to her, the reader of the book is subjected to more than one graphic description of that night's events. The story is told by a narrator and the main focus is on the victim's parents and their reactions to the tragedy. Jenny herself seemed to be a prop, necessary for the story's other events to unfold.  It's an interesting book with a unique plot, but I was a bit turned off by the narrator and the way he speaks directly to the reader and interjects with his opinions on free range parenting and society in general.

The Wicked Boy - The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer by Kate Summerscale has all of the elements of an interesting piece of historical non-fiction. A boy murders his mother, then covers up her death while spending all of the household funds and pawning her belongings. Penny Dreadfuls, the sensational fiction that Robert loved to read, are blamed for corrupting the child's mind and he's sentenced to Broadmoor, a lunatic asylum. The description on the cover was intriguing, but the book itself was kind of dry. It wasn't until I read the author's note at the end that I started to feel her enthusiasm for the subject.

Disclosure -- I was provided with advance review copies by the publishers. All opinions are my own.  

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