Review: Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Annie O'Sullivan, a thirty-two year old realtor, was at an open house, trying to sell a house, but the day moves slow for her, with very few customers. Just as she is about to close, in comes a charming guy who is very keen on buying the house. Believing it to be her lucky day after all, Annie proceeds to give the visitor a tour of the house. Halfway through, however, she is attacked by him and dragged to his van.

Annie spends her next one year in captivity. Her abductor, whom she refers to as the Freak, has taken her to a cabin, from which escape is impossible. He doesn't allow her to leave the cabin for any reason. She has no way of knowing whether it is day or night outside, except by crouching on the floor of the bathroom and looking through a very tiny crack on the floor. He doesn't allow her to use the restroom as per her wish. Instead, each trip is scheduled. One time, when she sneaks a trip to the toilet in his absence, she is accidentally caught by him and assaulted for violating the rule.

Still Missing was an intensely creepy read. Not creepy as in ghosts or gory scenes. But creepy as in the extreme evils capable of being committed by man without even being malicious. The Freak was a man who was highly disturbed. He had an insane routine sketched out for Annie, down to her bath time. Every night, he would bathe her, and then clothe her, before raping her. He spent a whole year playing house with her.

Right from page one, we know that Annie escaped. Half the book is her story of abduction, abuse and escape. The other half is set in the present and shows her recovery from the tragedy. The two halves are interleaved, with each chapter starting with the present and moving to her past. Her present is actually set in her psychologist's office - in fact, each chapter is a session. (Instead of the usual "Chapter", Still Missing has "Session".)

Still Missing is told from Annie's perspective, and I have to say that Annie has a very strong voice. I remember reading the first couple of pages the moment I received the book. I was immediately hooked and found it hard to put it down. The book had the same effect on me when I finally got around to reading it, so much so that I finished it in two days.

The ending was a sure twist - that's the kind of ending one doesn't see coming. I had mixed feelings about it though. I am not a fan of the really unpredictable endings, just as much as I don't like the very predictable ones. Although the whodunit of Still Missing was a real shocker, I found some elements of the ending hard to believe. To me, it was possible but not plausible. It could have happened, but really could it have sustained for a whole year? The author establishes the motives clearly, and I could see why the person did it. But what I couldn't see is why the person stuck through it.

But that doesn't take away the sheer thrill quality of the book. Annie's experiences at the cabin were scary, and very harrowing. That's not to say that she never connected with her rapist. The only time she was ever able to be with him without feeling disgust was when they were reading and discussing literature. Chevy Stevens created a very realistic scenario by mixing elements of fear and disgust, occasionally stirring in sympathy. While Annie doesn't feel overly empathetic with her abuser, she is able to co-exist with him after the first few weeks.

Although, Annie is the protagonist of Still Missing, I felt that The Freak was the more vivid character. I felt sheer disgust towards him and his actions. He had a very strong presence in the book throughout, and even after closing the book, I couldn't shake off visions of him. No, he didn't give me nightmares, and I doubt anyone would get nightmares, but this is one of those portrayals that you will think of for a long time.

   

Check out this book published by St. Martin's Press @ Goodreads, BetterWorldBooks, Amazon, B&N.

I received this book for free from the publisher for review.

10 comments:

Molly said...

I have read so many reviews of this book and just can't decide it is for me. While the premise of the story intrigues, I am afraid that that the gruesomeness will be more than I can (or want) to handle.

bermudaonion said...

Oh my gosh! I can't wait to read this after your review!

Nadia said...

Wow, Aths! Loved your review of this book - I kept wanting you to just reveal the ending already, because I wanted to find out who did that to her! I'll be adding this one to my Book list. It sounds so interesting, but also horrific and I'm not sure why I want to read it, but I know that I do. It'll probably freak me out and give me nightmares - Yikes!

Helen's Book Blog said...

This book sounds so intriguing, but I am with Molly and don't know if I can stomach it. What do you think? Will it freak me out since I have a 9-year old daughter? Will I start seeing "creepy people" everywhere? :-)

Aleksandra said...

Great review!

Marce said...

Fantastic review as always. The premise of this book sounds like a favourite 2010 for me, I can't wait to read it.

Emidy said...

Wow! I can't believe I haven't heard of this book before. Love the concept. It's creepy for sure, but I love the psychology behind it. I must read this!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Wow. Sounds creepy good. Great review :)

Medeia Sharif said...

Great review. This is a wish list item. Emotionally, it may not be easy to read, but I'm attracted to edgier books.

christa @ mental foodie said...

Why did I even bother with my review? I should've just linked it to yours and said, "there, what she said!" :)