Sunday, 3 September 2017

Book Review: Baby Doll

The cover of this book definitely drew me in; 'escape is just the beginning' is the perfect short, sharp description of this absolute page turner. A fantastically written debut novel from Overton, it starts with Lily realising that after eight long years her captor has forgotten to set the lock and so we see her start to flee, alongside her daughter. The notion of Happily Ever After was never going to be a reality and so even after running to freedom, in fact to her childhood home, the story doesn't end there. The use multiple narrators was an excellent way of communicating through extensive characterisation; as a reader you get to hear the perspectives of Lily, the victim of both kidnap and imprisonment; her twin sister Abby, their mother Eve and also the abductor. It was a simple but effective way of enabling the reader to really understand the motives behind each decision made by each character.

One of the main reasons why this book was such an interesting read is that it gave an insight into what happens after escape, rather than simply finishing with the escape. Essentially where most books would end, this one began. From the offset this book was gripping; as soon as Lily returned to her family she shocked them with details of who took her and what had happened to her. It's hardly unsurprising that both her and her daughter Sky needed therapy. Overton doesn't explicitly describe the evil that Lily lives through, but a lot of it is implied which actually made it feel more real, like it was something unthinkable. The hardest part of this story to digest was how much Lily's kidnapping had affected those closest to her; her father dying, her mother attempting to find love through her grief, Abby's depression and her boyfriend Wes trying hard to keep going.

As a reader it is clear very quickly that Lily suffered some form of sexual, physical and verbal abuse at the hands of a predator. I wasn't shocked when the predator turned out to be someone that she knew well and trusted, after all statistics suggest that often those who are abused or attacked often know the perpetrator. Lily is an insanely strong individual and I think at times I overlooked how strong she really is; her sister, Abby is the polar opposite of Lily. Where Lily constantly manages (even if only on the surface) to cope, Abby is unable to; this is likely because one has lived through hope where the other had lost all hope. After eight years, Wes and Abby are having a child together, having loved each other in the midst of their loss and that is what truly hurts Lily; seeing how people had to move on after thinking that she was dead for so long. The relationships between the characters are beautifully written, particularly the relationship between Lily and Abby.

This novel literally gripped me from the first few pages; although it was horrific and extremely sinister in places, it was one of those books that was hard to put down. The abductor was a shock from the off, the pinnacle of the community, the man who worked so hard in the searches to find Lily was the person who took her from her family. However, the shocks didn't stop at that point and I liked how the linguistic style reiterated that Lily was not the only victim in this story; the ending was a complete twist that I never saw coming, but it was incredibly satisfying. Sometimes only revenge can achieve inner peace in those that suffer, even if it takes some form of sacrifice on their part. I found this novel to be fantastically well written with a great depiction of characterisation and the relationship between families even in times of hardship. I would recommend reading this book even if you're not a huge fan of thrillers as although it touches on some difficult topics everything is handled very sensitively; focussing on the thoughts and emotions of the characters rather than the atrocities that ripped their lives apart. It's one of those novels that really sticks in your mind, even when you finish it. 

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