Thursday, September 19, 2013
The Edge of Normal
Minotaur Books, 2013
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Have you ever read a book where something kind of silly just makes it difficult for you to connect? That happened for me here as the main setting for this book is Jefferson City, Jefferson County, CA. Well, there's no such place as I know abundantly from my work (random factoid: North Carolina has 100 counties-don't ask why I know that) and every time the county was mentioned, I grimaced. It was a little tic that got me constantly throughout the book especially because San Francisco and some other (real) big cities are mentioned indicating that the location is supposed to be plausible.
The premise for this book is quite chilling as is made abundantly clear by the cover. Reeve is a survivor of a kidnapping and captive situation; she has worked hard for six years to move past her time in captivity. Thus she is not thrilled to be called in to give support to another girl just rescued from her captor. She wants to move on, she doesn't want to receive more media attention but she can't just ignore another girl in such a similar situation. Once she's there, she also begins to play detective and stunningly makes several excellent deductions that may just end the work of a serial killer for good.
Moving on to the book's actual qualities, I was very impressed. As the story wore on, I was able to start making a lot of connections where earlier pieces of information paid off in satisfying ways. The characterization wasn't as deep as I'm used to in first-person centric YA narratives but I got a good picture of Reeve and her bravery as well, unfortunately, of the creep perpetrating these crimes. Reading from his perspective was creepy and yet so engaging because of his knowledge (of surveillance tactics for example), strategic abilities (planning out the abduction and torture of at least three girls without being caught), and determination to complete his course. And the most terrifying part is how ordinary he seems instead of looking like the disgusting pig he is.
One thing I was sad about is how Reeve's psychiatrist Dr. Lerner plays increasingly less of a role as the book progresses. He is an important character from the start and is the reason Reeve ends up in Jefferson City and involved in the case in the first place. But because she gains more confidence and because she has such a unique experience, he ends up out of the picture. I liked him so that made me sad. Another disappointment was the incorporation of Reeve's abductor whose menace hangs over her and who resurfaces from his continuing stint in a mental hospital. But nothing really happens from him and it felt choppily integrated. I would have liked his appearance to have more of a point to the plot.
Overall: Very chilling-the pace definitely ramps up as the book progresses, making you desperate for every word just the way a thriller ought!
Cover: Love the key-this has a really great meaning as the book progresses.
Content: The book is pretty clean except for some choice words and discussion of rape that may be triggers.