The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea
Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation (25th April 2017)
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My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Actual rating of 2.75
Nicole Cutty and Megan McDonald are both high school seniors, there’s no love lost between them, and they’re not friends. The one thing they have in common is that they both disappeared from the same beach party on a warm summer’s night. There is no trail to follow and hope is lost, that is, until Megan surfaces on a road flagging down the first car she sees for help after escaping a bunker in the woods.
A year later, Megan is now a best-selling author after helping pen an account of what happened to her, that she could remember. And everyone has all but forgotten about the other girl who went missing and didn’t come back, except for Megan, and Livia – Nicole’s older sister and forensic pathology fellow. Livia is determined that her sister’s body will surface one day, and she diligently works her way through her fellowship with the hope that it’ll be her table that Nicole crosses so she can finally get some answers. What Livia gets however, is a trail that begins with another body that crosses her table, one that is connected to Nicole’s recent past. Livia reaches out to Megan and the two begin working together to try and follow the barely there trail that has surfaced. Meanwhile, Megan’s memories are beginning to come back to her, and the deeper the pair dig, the more monstrous the truth becomes.
This one piqued my interest as it sounded like a psychological thriller, and the whole mystery surrounding the found surviving girl who is trying to uncover the memories of what really happened to her when she was missing just drew me in. What I got though came across more like a criminal case story than a psychological thriller. Which honestly, is probably my own bad because I just assumed from the synopsis and all that about what I hoped it would be.
Livia is harboring a lot of guilt about her little sister’s disappearance as she felt like she really pushed Nicole away and wasn’t there for her when she really needed her, so in part blames herself for what happened. She’s determined to set things right by hopefully being the one to conduct Nicole’s autopsy when her body is finally found – though they don’t even know if Nicole is actually dead because no one knows what happened. Even Megan, who was abducted and escaped doesn’t really know what happened. She’s been working with her psychiatrist to try and uncover the memories that her brain has repressed because of the horrors that she endured during her capture. Livia’s character, while well written, I just didn’t really enjoy, I can’t put my finger on why, she just felt a little flat, though towards the ending of the book I feel like she grew on me a bit. Megan was a well written character and I really enjoyed that a lot of light was shed on the fact that while she survived her ordeal, the person she was before it happened was long gone. Now she was a broken woman trying to be okay for those around her while not really being a part of the world she lives in. Everyone wants Megan to be the survivor, to be grateful to be alive, for her life to go back to where it left off when she was taken, and she doesn’t want to tell them any differently, even though it couldn’t be further from the truth.
The mystery itself is honestly what kept me going, I really wanted to know what had happened to the two abducted women, but I’m not going to lie, the text book forensic and criminology aspects of the book became rather boring. Going through the autopsies with Livia, having each step explained in detail became tiring and made me feel like I was in the middle of a crime drama and made the story drag a fair bit for me. I actually considered DNFing a couple of times, but the lure of the ‘whodunit’ won out and I continued on.
The mystery was intriguing and well thought out, I thought I had it figured out a couple of times, but was well off the mark, I didn’t see the revelation coming at all and when everything came together in the end, it was well worth the slog through the slow parts to get there. The revelation was a doozy and I am glad that I continued on as it did make me bump my rating up a little. Everything was honestly well thought out and, for the most part, executed brilliantly. It was just the overexplained forensic parts which killed the pacing for me, which surprised me because forensics really does interest me, but I guess not in a fictional book when I want more story less medical explanations.
The ideas were sound and well executed and the over all story was tied together really well. I’m just not that big on stories that focus a lot on the crime kind of aspect I guess. If your into crime books and looking for one with a killer mystery behind it and a doozy of a revelation, give this one a crack.
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