Thursday, June 19, 2014

One Kick

Kick Lannigan is twenty-one now, but the public still sees her as an eleven year old being rescued from kidnappers after five years missing. After being effectively brainwashed by the pedophiles and child pornographers that captured her, she vows to never be forced to do anything against her will. As a child, her abusers trained her to pick locks, go unnoticed, and a slew of other skills to help them. On top of this training, she educated herself in other relevant skills in order to save as many children as she can from her own fate. By herself, she only listens to the police scanner and searches up and down highways for the license plates on amber alerts. John Bishop, mysterious guy working for a mysterious and very rich private company, employs her because she will be able to see things others don't because she spent years with these criminals. Kick will have to delve deeply into her traumatic past in order to save these children, even delving into events locked away long ago.

I'm a big fan of Chelsea Cain's and I was super excited to see she's coming out with a new series. Her other series is mystery, but focuses on serial killers, gruesome crime scenes, and an incredibly twisted relationship. This new series is very different and focuses on child abuse and child pornography. Despite it being a central part of the plot, the book is not super descriptive about the sexual abuse of children because it would frankly be too offputting and offensive. I think quite a few readers won't read it because of the subject matter along with the fact that it isn't mentioned at all in the marketing. It's not a subject widely talked about or even covered much in the news, but this disgusting exploitation and buying and selling of children is real. Cain trades the extreme gore of her Gretchen Lowell series for a more subtle horror that sickens in a much different way.

Kick Lannigan is a memorable and very flawed character. She's a tough cookie who has been through a lot despite being quite young.. Her paradoxical personality and outlook give her character realistic dimensions. She's worldly yet naive, strong yet fragile and broken, observant and insightful yet so blind. Her motivation to save missing children stems from her own actions as a child. She was trained to destroy all computer evidence if the police ever came for them and she performed the maneuver well without knowing how many children would continue to be victimized and how many pedophiles would go free. That's some pretty intense guilt even though she wasn't truly at fault. I was a bit annoyed at some of her decisions, but I make allowances for her because of her young age and the abuse she experienced that still affects her. The most disturbing effect of that abuse is the Stockholm Sydnrome between her and her abuser. She insists he isn't like the others and still feels affection for him. I just want to shake her, but the effects of abuse can't be reversed even over a decade.

The other characters are just as interesting as Kick. I love Kick's relationship with James, an adopted brother who experienced the same abuse. They protect each other and care for each other at all costs. Kick's mother is a piece of work who doesn't hesitate to exploit her daughter for media attention. Deep down, I think she does care, but the shellacked and perfect persona she puts forward disgusts me. James, tall, dark and mysterious, annoyed me at first, but proved to have a lot more layers than I thought. He's kind of an ass and keeps a lot of important information to himself, but he's a good person who wants to save children just as much as Kick does. These characters stayed with me long after I closed the book.

One Kick is a thrill ride of a mystery that tackles very uncomfortable subject matter. I read it within a day and I already want the sequel even though this book isn't out yet. The series has great potential and I can't wait to see where Chelsea Cain takes these characters next.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

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