by Chevy Stevens
published by St. Martin's Griffin
read via Kindle store
First off, let's get this out of the way: my Kindle ruined, or at least severely tampered with, my reading experience with Still Missing. (Yet another reason why these blasted things should be read on paper. But, hey, I did read it on a Kindle; I'm the one at fault here.)
One of the most crucial design flaws of the Kindle is the way the extra crap hastily included at the end of books (reader discussions, interviews, and But Wait . . . There's More! teasers of the authors' next books) count toward the overall percent-read figures of the book. I expect to reach the 100% mark when I finish the last chapter and hit the acknowledgments, but because of all the extras at the end of the Kindle editions, the actual end of the book hit me at 85%. That means that a whole fifteen percent of this book was dedicated to excerpts from Stevens's other books and reading group discussion questions, which was severely disappointing when I expected that 15% to include more plot points. That's what screwed things up for me: my belief that something big was coming, that more things were happening, maybe a jaw-dropping twist at the very end to leave us guessing, something infuriating and rewarding. Because I had fifteen percent left, I expected more. What I got as a conclusion wasn't more: it was sadly less than what I hoped for.
I enjoyed the way Still Missing unfolded. I enjoyed how the story was told from the perspective of a bitter, traumatized woman looking back on her traumas. I enjoyed the blossoms of Stockholm syndrome strewn throughout -- the book was, for the most part, psychologically accurate. (Somebody did her research!) The plot kept me turning pages; even though none of it particularly surprised me, it still led to feverish, nail-biting reading. What I don't think was the smartest choice, however, was the storytelling method Stevens employed, wherein Annie conversationally accounted her tragedy to her "shrink." It gave Stevens an excuse to write lazily (so many clichés!) and didn't trust readers very much to pick things up on their own (for example, the way she explicitly spelled out the irony -- I think we got it).
Some of Annie's traumatic experiences really resonated, eliciting lots of emotion from me as I read. It got a bit graphic, but was all necessary to develop Annie's character. Overall, Still Missing functioned very well as a psychological thriller, delivered with a plot that engrossed (but ended, in my opinion, a little too bow-tied and perfect), and captured the facets of trauma very well from a psychological standpoint. People aren't the same after they experience traumas, and it can take years for them to return to how they were before, if they ever do. Stevens captured this beautifully.