Here's an upcoming book, out just next week if you are looking for a new, chilling-but-thought-provoking travel read!
Summer always brings an onslaught of thrillers. And I'm always happy to give a few of them a try—for some reason I'm really drawn to this genre even though I find many of the story lines tired and I often figure out the plots less than 50 pages in.
Baby Doll is something different, though. It isn't what you expect. Lily was kidnapped and held captive for eight years. She was subject to unspeakable torment and abuse and gave birth to a child with no one to help her. But this is not that story. Lily escaped. And this is the story of what happens after.
So right from the start, this quick novel is messing with our expectations. It isn't the thriller we think it's going to be, where a tough, resourceful girl is trapped in a basement and we follow her torment and eventual chaotic and heroic flight from her abuser. Instead, we come into the story only seeing the aftermath of all that. I've never read a story that began with such a narrative thread, so that really grabbed me right from the start.
The weight of the book is really in the emotional relationships between the characters. The biggest players are Lily; Lily's twin sister, Abby; their mom, Eve; and Rick, Lily's kidnapper. The reader gets inside each of these characters' heads in alternating chapters, seeing a piece of their inner lives and how they connect to and think about the issues at hand.
It was refreshing to not have a ton of flashback scenes but rather to learn about who the characters were by seeing them as they are now. The book really lives in the present much more than it dwells in the past, which is a plus. It gives off a very positive message about moving forward and about how no matter what type of crisis you have been through, you can rebuild your life and be happy again.
There are a few pretty good, though minor, twists throughout the book that I think the author hides well, not playing her hand too soon as so many thrillers tend to do. They are worth reading for, as I didn't see them coming and it's difficult to pull one over on me!
But I do wish that the book held onto its tension for longer. There seemed to be a good opportunity for a more drawn-out story about a legal battle (or at least a media battle) between Lily and Rick about whose story was true when there was some dispute over whether or not she was actually kidnapped. But it all seems to go away pretty quickly, and it seemed to be out of Rick's character to just throw everything away because he thought that he still controlled Lily completely. To me, he seemed much smarter than that and was always one or two steps ahead of everyone else, except in that crucial moment.
All in all, this had an interesting beginning, but it didn't really stand out the in the crowd of thrillers. In a way, it is more of an after-thriller, as everything "thrilling" has already occurred before the book begins, and for me at least, it didn't come through on its promise to give me more. Or perhaps I'm just too greedy. . . I can't say it had much suspense to it—not that there's anything wrong with that—but it didn't deliver on its emotional promise either and I never got attached to the characters. With a bit more depth to characters and a longer boil to the plot, this really could have had something but as is, it stands a bit mediocre.
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Find out more about the author, Hollie Overton
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Find out more about the publisher, Redhook (Hachette)
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Associate editor, amateur photdographer, bibliophile, and occasional sleuth.