Sunday, June 25, 2017

Strange Addiction: Thrillers

You know how sometimes you get a craving and you just have to watch four or five episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer every night for a month, or reread as much of the Babysitters Club series as you can lay your hands on? As one does? Well, for some reason, I've been overtaken by an unfightable urge to read thrillers.

I think it might have started with Ararat, actually, which was more on the horror end, but which seriously let me down in the adrenaline department. Then I read Emma in the Night, which enthralled me for some reason--just the right amount of dread versus mystery, knowing there were secrets and having to discover what they were.

That was so satisfying that I wanted more right away. I jumped right into Still Missing, by Chevy Stevens, which was on my radar for some reason I don't even remember--probably just because the library got the ebook and I turned it up trolling for new purchases.

At first, I wasn't even aware what itch I needed to scratch, but the "missing girl returns and we learn what happened while experiencing the aftermath" premise was just like Emma in the Night, which I think is why I picked it. At the beginning I wasn't sure about the book, because we start right in with the narrator telling us (well, telling her therapist) about her abduction and the long months she spent trapped with her kidnapper.  It was well written, and exactly what you'd expect that story to be--messed up man, woman trying to survive, getting her head messed with, indignities and violations and horror.  It felt....salacious.

I think I kept reading because of the structure--the chapters are numbered sessions, and the story is essentially a monologue of Annie talking to her therapist.  We never hear the therapist's voice, but Annie does make reference to her advice, and to the strategies she tries to deal with so many of the problems she's still struggling with.  I find that process intriguing, and that kept me reading.

The further into the book you get, though, the broader picture you get, and the more the story of Annie's life now emerges. While the abduction was fascinating in a horrible way, the recovery process was so interesting.  Her mother has never been great; her best friend is too pushy; her boyfriend (ex?) is patient and kind.  But as the story unfolds--both on the mountain and of trying to fit back into the world, it becomes obvious that there is still unfinished business, and that the "now" period is not just emotionally fascinating, but full of danger, as well.

So I really couldn't put this book down, though I think in another mood I might not even have picked it up.  I will say that, as much as I loved the therapy envelope story, I did find that the book didn't actually read like a monologue.  This is one of my pet peeves--epistolary novels, or first person accounts that claim to be in the narrator's voice, but that lapse into author-speak--sentences constructed as a writer constructs them, not as a character would say them. In this one, each session starts out with Annie addressing the doctor in her own voice, but as she starts to talk about what happened (as opposed to her current feelings or addressing the doctor directly), her voice quickly changes.  I didn't mind the style at all, but I found the transition in every chapter discordant.

Makes me want to write an epistolary novel, firmly staying in character.  If anyone wants to write a corresponding novel with me, let me know!

So now I'm done with my thriller and have to decide whether to shift back to one of the many other books I'm in the middle of (space mystery! historical fantasy!) or just greedily scoop up something else about someone being stalked or unearthing an ancient evil or suspecting that their dentist is out to get them.  Who are we kidding? It's summer! Bring on the thrillers.

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