Review: Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Title: Still Missing
Author: Chevy Stevens
Genre: Mystery/Thriller; Psychological
Publisher: St. Martin's (Macmillan)
Release Date: July 6, 2010

The pre-release buzz for this book has been astounding! The author even went on a pre-publication tour already for this book. It has been featured in magazines already and is on everyone's must-read list. And what do I think? Well, when I first started reading it, I thought "no, I don't even know if I want to read the rest"; then later I thought "yes, definitely, it's a MUST read, it's so good! Can't wait to finish reading it!"; and now that I'm done, I'm somewhere in the middle... it is good so if you like the genre, definitely read it and that way you'll at least be in the know. If you don't like this genre already, this may not be the book for you.

It starts out with Realtor Annie O'Sullivan finishing up an open house she was working that day. One last straggler comes to check out the house; he is handsome and charming, and Annie agrees to show him around. The next thing she knows this man has abducted her and is holding her captive in a small cabin in the middle of nowhere. He wants her to submit to him like a "good wife". "The Freak", which is how Annie refers to him, holds her captive for a year while messing with her psyche -- he creates a routine for her, bathes her himself, only allows her to pee on schedule, etc.

The reader knows from the outset that Annie has escaped this situation. In a creative manner, each chapter is a new session for Annie with her therapist (or "shrink" as she refers to her). She begins by speaking to her therapist about present day issues and how she is adjusting, and then she returns to telling the history of her entire captivity. The therapist does not have a voice in this novel which works well since it's Annie's story that we're interested in; nevertheless, the reader has an idea what the therapist tells Annie based on her reactions and thoughts.

My initial thoughts after the first 20-40 pages was to question why I even chose to read this. I feared that the entire book would be a graphic description of what "The Freak" did to her during that year. The tone of the novel was so angry, too, that I didn't think this would be an enjoyable read in any way, and I almost set it down. I figured out shortly after that I needed to separate myself from the character rather than empathizing with her like I would most characters because otherwise what she endured felt too personal and difficult to read. Once I did that, I was able to return to the reading (but with some trepidation).

It was easier to read after that and I became HOOKED! I HAD to know what else happened, how and when did she escape, and then what happened after that?? There were moments that I still think some readers will have intense difficulty reading about, but it wasn't as horrific as I'd imagined; I continued to feel anxious reading on, though, because I was afraid of what was to come next and whether it would be too graphic or creepy for me to read. This novel certainly had a unique premise, and it kept me engaged and wanting to learn more. Even after her release (which surprised me even though I knew it was coming) the story kept moving as the motivations behind the kidnapping were investigated.

But then the ending.... The way the mystery wrapped up and the reasons behind it.... I just didn't buy it (or like it, for that matter). It felt too random, despite the explanation; even though I usually don't guess the endings, this was certainly not expected, and it didn't seem to connect to anything else to give me an "ah-ha" moment. It just was. And why?! (Why?? I'd like to discuss this with others so let me know when you've read it!) I was thoroughly engrossed in this book until the moment the mystery was solved -- and then I felt confusion which was followed shortly thereafter by disappointment.

Despite my utter disappointment at the ending, I would still recommend this book because it was one of those that (after the first 40 pages anyway) I looked forward to reading, and I wanted to sneak in as much time as I could during every free moment to read more -- not because I needed to finish it for review, or because I felt obligated to read it, but because I was genuinely absorbed in the story. In that sense, Still Missing, was a true thriller, and fans of the genre will enjoy this thrilling read.


Lenore said...

The ending was VERY unexpected, but not unbelievable when you consider the character of the culprit. There are definitely clues along the way. And seriously, this is a story I would not be surprised to read about on the news. I loved the way she wrapped it up, personally.

Zibilee said...

I just got this one as well, and have been kind of reluctant to start it due to it's graphic nature. It sounds like it's a wild ride with a lot of ups and downs, so I will read it keeping that in mind. Great review! I appreciate your honesty about this book!

Nikola said...

This sounds great. I actually LIKE books with weird endings, because they allow you to interpret them however you like.

Jenny said...

Lenore -- I guess if I think about it like that you're right... and it's not that I liked that character, but I guess I had a small degree of empathy for them so that just sort of caught me off guard! It was definitely a crazy book!

Heather -- There really weren't that many graphic parts really... I think the fear that it was coming was worse than what she actually wrote. There was one part that really bothered me, but it wasn't graphic... it was just the act itself that bothered me!

Nikola -- yeah that's true.. although I don't know if this one was weird so much as just unexpected.

Jamie said...

I've never heard of this before! Sounds intriguing!

Kerry said...

I'm a little apprehensive to start this one too, though I do have a copy sitting around here somewhere!

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

I am VERY near the ending of this book so I stopped reading your last few paragraphs of your review. I agree with everything you said up until that point.

I have felt so many different things while reading this. i am a fan of psychological thriller but some times they can be intense. I was really pissed off (sorry) during a lot of this book. I had to detached myself.

I am ready for the end to see how it is resolved.

Thanks for your review! So many bloggers out there have read this one.

Jenny said...

Michelle -- please come back and read the rest when you're done and then let me know what you think!! The ending is definitely one worth talking about I think. And yeah, detaching was really important in this book!!

Amanda said...

This sounds really intense! Love that cover.

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

Jenny, I TOTALLY AGREE with you on the ending. I thought it was a very intense, in your head psychologcial, diabolical thriller up until she is found. Then it became a weak who dunnit mystery. I kind of got the whole "my mother is strange" thing throughout the book. But I didn't buy the end and the reasons. It was wrapped up too nicely. And the relationship between her and the detective? really? that was not necessary. i don't have any suggestions about how i would have liked it to end. the feel of the book changed once she was found and it just wan't as compulsively readable.
fans of serious thrillers, read it. it's worth it but the ending is not so awesome.

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