It's not the kind of book I'd be likely to go out and buy. For starters, it's in a section of the bookstore that I never frequent, so it's going to have a hard time attracting my attention. More specifically, it's about a serial killer stalking and kidnapping. These are not topics I do well with, emotionally.
Ali is the one into suspense and murder. I'm happy with shows like CSI, NCIS, and Bones, because it's easy to detach myself from the victims. They tend to enter the scene after they are safely dead. I struggle more with Criminal Minds, and I never want to read or see Misery. As soon as we get into kidnapping and hostage situations of ordinary people, I usually have to leave the room. It feels way too real for me to cope with, and stops being entertainment.
But I had to read CREEP. The fabulous Jennifer Hillier sent me a copy of both CREEP and FREAK for winning a contest on her blog, so I was out of excuses!
Nevertheless, because it is so far out of my comfort zone, I approached it with some anxiety.
I'm happy to report that I survived.
And I enjoyed it.
It helped, I think, that the protagonist, Sheila Tao, is strong and resourceful, even in the middle of her ordeal. Even faced with a chilling sociopath in the form of Ethan Wolfe, a cold-blooded planner and expert manipulator, she manages to retain a small measure of control. I struggle the most when the MC is entirely helpless and falls into the role of passive victim.
It helped even more that the writing is strong and clean, and shot through with sparks of deliciously inappropriate humor.
So I turned to the sequel, FREAK with a real sense of anticipation, and I was not disappointed.
If Ethan Wolfe was chilling as a villain, the manipulative Abby Maddox in FREAK could liquify helium with her human warmth and compassion.
For me, FREAK was a more natural fit for my preferences, as it involved a more evenly-matched cat-and-mouse game between people who were mostly operating in familiar territory. I was kept guessing the whole time what Abby's plan was, and who she'd enlisted to help her. The twist at the end was delightful.
If you are into suspense and psychological thrillers, I would recommend both CREEP and FREAK.
FREAK is out in bookstores on August 7.