Monday 9 July 2012

Review: Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick

Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Source: Audiobook

Synopsis from Goodreads:
There are stories where the girl gets her prince, and they live happily ever after. (This is not one of those stories.)

Jenna Lord’s first sixteen years were not exactly a fairytale. Her father is a controlling psycho and her mother is a drunk. She used to count on her older brother—until he shipped off to Afghanistan. And then, of course, there was the time she almost died in a fire. 

There are stories where the monster gets the girl, and we all shed tears for his innocent victim. (This is not one of those stories either.)

Mitch Anderson is many things: A dedicated teacher and coach. A caring husband. A man with a certain... magnetism. 

And there are stories where it’s hard to be sure who’s a prince and who’s a monster, who is a victim and who should live happily ever after. (These are the most interesting stories of all.)

Drowning Instinct is a novel of pain, deception, desperation, and love against the odds—and the rules.

My two main thoughts upon finishing this book? WOW! And YIKES!

This was so, so good. I love it when a book really moves me, and I root for the characters, and the story stays with me all day until I can get home and can pick it up again. It is so gripping, profound and completely compelling.

This book is actually told as a police report as Jenna is telling her side of the story of what happened. All the chapter headings are "Folder 1, File B" etc.  And with Jenna telling her story into the police tape recorder you really got a sense of her as a person- her sarcasm and intelligence shine through, and you also get a real sense of how much she is hurting.

The book has a certain inevitability. You already know what has happened, but it was interesting to read the motivatations behind it- everything is not as black and white as it would first seem- and the whole book is a justification, and a defence of their actions.

It all feels like a big build-up, getting increasing more intense, and building up to something huge. This increasing tension is completely compulsive- I was hooked, and did not want to put the book down. It always feels just on the cusp of something dramatic, and the anticipation builds and builds.

I loved the main character Jenna- she is so timid and vulnerable when it comes to standing up for herself, but still so brave and strong in coping with what has happened to her in the past. She is completely relatable, and I felt for her so much. She is a character starved of love, and just struggling to get through the next day, and her voice in telling her side of things is so assured.

But because we only see her side of the story, and she so obviously strongly believes everything that she is saying, it is hard to know exactly what to believe. But I actually liked this- the lines become so blurred that it really comes down to the reader to make their own mind up.

Jenna's story and the way she tells it completely re-defines the definition of a victim, and just goes to show that nothing is as it appears on the surface. This is a dark but beautifully written, powerful and controversial contemporary novel. I am confused and bereft, but I adored it, and I know it will stay in my mind for a long while to come. Fantastic.


  1. This sounds fantastic! I loved Ashes so I know I'll enjoy this one too.

  2. Wow, that sounds amazing! But I'm confused, at the beginning of the book, does it give you the ending and what happened, and then it goes through the "files" (chapters) telling the reader how it all worked out?



    1. No, it does flow linear, but you can see whats going to end up happening from a mile away. There are subtle clues throughout as well.

  3. WOW- that synopsis was impressive. Just from reading the synopsis alone, I can see why you gave it 5 stars. Reading your review really helped me understand Jenna more, especially when you said that, "I loved the main character Jenna- she is so timid and vulnerable when it comes to standing up for herself, but still so brave and strong in coping with what has happened to her in the past." She sounds so multi-dimensional and complex.


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