A race against time and death.
Publisher: Crown (Random House)
First Published: 4th June 2013
Date Reviewed: 15th July 2013
Please note that this reviewer has read the first book in the series but not the second, so any confusion discussed may or may not be the result of not having read the second book.
Vanessa Michael Munroe was enjoying a respite with Miles Bradford when she was whisked to hospital following a blackout. Bradford saw it happen but it’s not obvious at first what truly happened. Together with this a rising star of the screen has disappeared, and no one knows where she is either. Are they connected, and if so why would the same group wanting a young girl want Munroe as well?
The Doll is the fantastic third book in Stevens’s Munroe series. A book with no slowing of pace, no fillers, and a constant awareness of reader intelligence, The Doll is a triumphant example of the thriller genre at its best.
Munroe is the same tortured soul as before, but Stevens has again created a good balance, allowing the darkness to make its mark but never letting Munroe really succumb to weakness. Munroe can be harsh at times but her strength and belief makes her easy to love as a character, especially in a time when so many books have weak heroes; and the word ‘heroes’ is not a spelling mistake. Here again we have Munroe posing as both genders and the affects such a lifestyle has had on her is portrayed, subtlety in her words and movements. She has the respect of a man and never needs to do anything to prove herself in that vein.
Stevens has also put a lot of work into the book’s particular other main character, the celebrity. You would expect that (assumable if you consider each book has its own criminal storyline) Neeva wouldn’t be fleshed out as much, but Stevens has created in her the most memorable character.
The ongoing relationship between Bradford and Munroe follows the same pattern. The love is obvious, but you could never assign the label ‘romance’ as a theme. Even the strong love Munroe has for others have their limits on her character.
The awareness of intelligence is one of the most intriguing aspects of the book, because Stevens never makes concepts or plot points unnecessarily obvious. She gives you the basics – all you need to work it out – and then the rest is up to you. This means that sometimes the book is confusing, but it also adds longevity to the plot. In addition, the book is not predictable and barring Munroe’s almost reluctant humanity, which ‘had’ to occur sometime, anything could happen. And it does. Stevens never promises a smooth ride, beginning, middle, or end.
The pacing is just something else. From start to finish you’re speeding 100 miles per hour and even the chapter breaks leave no time to catch your breath.
A book with such a poignant subject had to be treated carefully and Stevens has done that. She gives you as much as is needed to feel entertained by a novel and then goes all out to show how awful it is. She doesn’t just use the situation and create a happy ever after, she brings the reality of the situation into it. Of course there is a measure of apology from the criminals but it’s clearly definable as something to help the story and not suggested as realistic. The horror is never glossed over.
Stevens has bypassed the description of ‘promising’. It would be impossible to say that this book holds promise for the future because Stevens is already beyond promise. The Doll is a masterpiece and one of the best books of this year.
I received this book for review from Crown Publishers.
July 24, 2013, 4:05 pm
I have this one but didn’t know it was the third in a series. Oops.
July 24, 2013, 7:30 pm
I bought a copy of the author’s first book awhile ago, but haven’t yet read it. You certainly make this one sound good and worth jumping into as well. I like what you said about the author not being obvious–to me that means she trusts the reader to use his or her brain a bit. Great review and thank you for the recommendation, Charlie!