Thursday, May 13, 2010

Still Missing


You know when you pick up a book thinking that you want to read it, but something about it makes you keep pushing it to the bottom of the pile? That’s how I felt about Still Missing, a debut novel by Chevy Stevens. Centered around an escaped kidnap victim and detailing her capture, incarceration, escape, and ongoing recovery, Still Missing promised to expose those dark horrifying elements that so often appeal to me, but for some reason (probably the thought of reading about something that is all to relevant in today’s times, most particularly here in San Diego) I just couldn’t bring myself to delve into it. This is very unlike me. Usually, the darker the better, I mean who else raves about the beauty of Gillian Flynn’s prose as her character Camille cuts majestic, harsh, and haunting words into her own skin? Maybe there was something wrong with me, who knows, but finally, last week I brought it to bed with me. Not exactly the kind of book you snuggle up with, the imagery is apt to cause a distinct lack of sleep, but I did it anyway. And yes, I did lose sleep, but not for the reasons you think. The lack of sleep was directly related to the fact that I just did not want to stop reading.

Chevy Stevens manages to make a horrific subject matter digestible. Her character, Annie, shows a remarkable dark humor, which she uses to maneuver around a world that is no longer and might not ever be safe. While her captivity could be described in a visceral manner, it is not, rather she (Annie) is upfront with the reader (the book is written in first person as told to her psychiatrist) about her experience; her feelings after her abduction, how she survived mentally during it, and how she now stumbles through life, spending her nights sleeping on a closet in order to feel secure. She manages to convey a delightfully sarcastic, occasionally dark sense of humor that not only endears her to the reader, but also allows us to see how she managed to survive so long in such a horrendous situation, while maintaining most of her sanity. The true genius of this novel is that never was I so appalled that I had to put it down. The transitions between time periods are smooth, and although the acts of violence are described, never are they too detailed or too shocking. When dealing with this type of subject matter it is easy to get engrossed in the brutality, but Stevens manages to convey the acts, while not overwhelming the reader with the vicious details.

This was an engrossing read. It also possesses whit that engages, suspense that thrills, and a twist, which will rock readers. I highly recommend Still Missing to fans of Gillian Flynn, Chelsea Cain, and Lisa Unger, or for anyone who loves a good psychological thriller.