Saturday, April 18, 2015

What Doesn't Kill Her. . . #Book #Review


Jordan Rivera is an ordinary kid with an ordinary family, until a vicious killer takes it all away, sparing her, but leaving her broken. The murders of her father, mother and brother destroy something inside Jordan, who spends ten long, mute years in an institution. Catching a glimpse of a news report about another family slaying, Jordan at last breaks her silence. Now she’s out, and she molds herself—body and mind—into an instrument of justice. 

While a young detective pursues the case on his own, Jordan teams up with members of her support group, people like her, damaged by violent crime. They have their own stories of pain, heartache, and vengeance denied. With their help, Jordan will track down the killer before he can ravage any more lives. Her life – and her sanity – depend on it.

This novel fell into my email inbox through Bookbub.  The cover looked intriguing and the title made me want to know more, and hell, after reading the synopsis, I was sold.  But, unfortunately, that’s where my excitement ends.

Jordan Rivera was doing what teenagers do—sitting in her room supposedly doing homework, while her mind wandered thinking about a boy, Mark Pryor.  She was looking forward to what the future held for the two of them.  Unfortunately, a rather tragic night ended Jordan’s dream and damaged her psyche.  A vicious psychotic intruder finds his way into the Rivera household savagely murdering anything that got in his way – which was Jordan’s entire family.  Jordan hears her mother’s frantic scream for her to run, but Jordan doesn’t take heed to the warning.  How could she?  So what does a teenager bearing witness to the sound of her family being murdered do?  She hides under the bed.  When the psychotic intruder comes for her, she’s beyond terrified.  What this lunatic advises Jordan to do afterward, took what little sanity she had left, completely away.

Not only did this murderer rip her family apart, but he ripped the very fabric of Jordan’s soul and robbed her of the person she should have become. After that terrible night, Jordan withdrew from the world and ended up being in a mental hospital for ten years, and although that may not come as a surprise to some, what was even more astounding is while she was in that institution, she remained silent.  She didn’t speak to anyone for ten whole years.  Of course, there was a reason why she remained silent, and it’s not for what would appear to be obvious. 

Ten years later has come from the day that Jordan’s family was taken from her and she finally decides to speak out in her support group which was mandatory she attend while at the mental facility.  She needs to get out of the hospital and reintroduce herself into society, if the world would have her.  Her doctor assists her in doing just that—got her an apartment to live not too far from the hospital.  Unbeknownst to Jordan, a guardian angel was shielding and guiding her throughout her tenure in the mental hospital—Mark Pryor, the young teenage boy she hoped to go to prom with when she was a teenager.  He’s all grown up and looking good and is a detective for the Cleveland Police Department.  Because of what happened to the young girl he loved back in the day, inspired him to become a police officer just so he could aid Jordan whenever she was released from the hospital.  The day finally comes and when the two of them meet up, you’d think it would be bells and whistles and rockets shooting up in the sky, but the reception Mark received, was far from that.  In fact, Jordan was extremely unkind to Mark, and for no apparent reason, although she wasn’t aware she was in love with him.

This is where the story takes a turn for me.  I understand that Jordan has been damaged mentally.  I realize she became a mute because of it.  I truly can identify that she’d be hard pressed to trust another human being again, after what happened to her family, but to lash out at the one person who has done everything within his power to protect you from that point on, I don’t get that.  In fact, Jordan’s character really pissed me off.  She was just plain nasty to Mark and not only him, but to several other characters and to me her attitude was way off base.  Her anger is understandable and you’d think with all those doctors she was around trying to get her to open up about what happened to her would somehow begin to seep through.  After all, she sat there for ten years listening to patients’ horror stories and she felt pain and empathy for them, but had all this pent up anger about her family situation.  And not only did she have anger issues, somewhere along the way, she taught herself how to do martial arts.  Umm, oook?  I don’t know how one goes about teaching himself to do Karate, but I suppose anything is possible, right?  I guess?  Hmm!

For a woman who doesn’t like human contact, she went out of her way to inflict pain on others whenever the moment struck her, which was often.  So she, along with several other victims of family murders decide to do their own investigation, since the police were less than adequate and couldn’t help decide whether their cases were committed by one deranged lost soul or a duo.  Somehow this support group was made to appear as though they had more sense than the local police department.  It was as if Mark Pryor and his coworkers were more or less the Keystone Cops, or so the story would have you believe.  I don’t know why, but the way Mark and the police department were portrayed pissed me off too.  Here, you have a group of vulnerable, barely clinging to life type of victims, yet they are strong enough to take on an “alleged” murderer.  I don’t know the story just seemed a bit farfetched and not real enough.  I didn’t like the protagonist, and that’s unfortunate because she received the most trauma.  You’re supposed to identify with her, and I do to a point, and then her attitude turned me completely off.  I’m thinking, “Fool, these people are trying to help you,” but she remained very standoffish. 

One other thing that struck me as odd with this story is the depiction of characters.  The author did an amazing job giving you great descriptions making you see exactly what they looked like, but what drove me crazy is the fact it was mentioned too many times.  If you mention a character’s race, which is perfectly fine, why is it every time that character is introduced into another scene, you have to continually mention the race of the character?  How insulting is that to the reader.  It’s as if I wasn’t paying attention the first time around.  If you tell me in chapter two a police chief is African-American, there’s certainly no need to continually remind us what color he is every time he pops up.  If you just say who the character is by name, that should be sufficient enough, but that didn’t appear to happen here.  The character’s race was almost mentioned each time he/she appeared and to me, I didn’t get that. 

Bottom line, I liked the story, but didn’t care much for the main character. She was too much a victim, in my opinion. Her misguided anger struck me as odd and completely out of place. I think had her character grown more, perhaps I would have understood her better, but unfortunately, I didn’t find much of that. What didn't kill her killed me by her lack of regard or respect for those trying to help her. Mello and June give this novel three stars. It wasn’t a bad read—it just didn’t suit our taste. You win some and you lose some. This story just didn’t do it for us. It happens sometimes.

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

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