Monday, 6 March 2017

The Method - Shannon Kirk // Blog Tour

The premise of this novel had me hooked as soon as I read it - a pregnant teenage girl is abducted, but they made a mistake in abducting her. The novel's narrator is a bit of a shrunk down Sherlock Holmes, crossed with a slightly more emotive Amy Dunne; coldly brilliant and in control, tactical and measured and ready to do what it takes to save her life - and more importantly, the life of her unborn son. Thus we find her as the novel begins, telling the story of her abduction and her method for escaping.

I don't want to give away any of the plot aside from what would be evident from the beginning pages of the novel. As such, it's not spoiling anything to say that our narrator (at least most of the time, but I'll get to that) has to survive her kidnapping, because she's telling her story a number of years later, when she's in her thirties. However, everything else about what happened after her abduction unfurls more slowly, at least to begin with. She is just as methodical in telling her story as she was in living it; focusing on the keys days of her captivity, highlighting her "assets", the tools she might use in her escape plan. Small glimpses into her own life, her past and relationships - with her family, the father of the baby, her pregnancy before her abduction, her childhood - all developing the character.

The narrator wasn't the only strong character, but she was the strongest written of all the main players. I didn't exactly connect with her emotionally, at least not in the way I often would with a character, but she grabbed hold of me and captured my imagination. She might not have been the most likeable character, and I wasn't always sure about the portrayal of her emotional "switches" or the allusions to her being a sociopath, but she was a compelling narrator.

This is where I have to cross to something that disappointed me a bit; the characterisation and  development with the FBI agents who also take a significant role in the novel. I didn't dislike them,
but I found it a bit of a stretch that they were so wildly talented, to an almost superhuman level. I could respect Liu (the other less frequent narrator) and his partner Lola having the abilities they did,
but I thought it was a touch too much for them to be so vastly superior to anyone else. The story didn't need it; simply excelling beyond the average person's ability would have been plenty.

Lola, too, didn't seem to get the development she deserved; I can understand some of the mystery around her personal life and her history (it's part of the story that her identity is being hidden, with Lola being a code name) but I wished I could get a closer insight into her, a bit more depth to her. Both this and their abilities are quite small criticisms for me, though - they didn't detract from my investment in the plot or the narrator. For a debut novel, too, these are small criticisms indeed - it was an excellent first novel, and I would be excited to see where Kirk goes next as an author.

The novel might not have been "perfect", but then very few novels could have come close. I would always rather have something to be critical of and still enjoy a novel; both my criticisms and my praise come from this being a novel that has left an impression on me after reading, that make it worth talking about and worth reading for yourself.

I feel like I might talk too much about how well some books like this would work as films, but in this case I know I'm not the only one who thinks so - this has already been optioned for a film, and I'm going to be on the lookout for it, as I can see this being a great story for the big screen too!