Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Victim

The Victim by Max Manning
Sourcebooks/Landmark: 8/6/19
eBook review copy; 336 pages
ISBN-13: 9781492667018

The Victim by Max Manning is a so-so examination of two choices and two outcomes during an attack.

Gem Golding, a public relations executive, has two choices when she is accosted in a parking lot by a man with a knife: to fight or to comply; to be a warrior or a victim. The attacker, Con Norton, is a psychopath who has made the attack a game where he alone decides what happens. Gem doesn't know this or the rules to his game, but her choice of how she will react will determine what he will do.

After the initial encounter where Con demands the keys to Gem's car, two different versions of the future are presented in parallel timelines. Chapters are alternately from the point-of-view of "Gem, the Warrior" or as "Gem, the Victim," and then within the chapters the alternate stories are told through Gem, Det. Insp. Elliot Day, Con, and Gem's boyfriend, Drew Bentley. Also present is journalist Matt Revell who is using Gem's story to advance his career. The alternate story lines oscillate between the two different outcomes based on Gem's initial decisions.

The two different story lines sort of reminded me of the choose your own adventure books my children were obsessed with while in grade school. In this case, while it was an interesting idea, I'm not sure it was a great choice. The choice to present the two different narratives in this rather contrived format simply didn't work for this reader in this story. Perhaps if Manning stuck with alternating simply on Gem as either a warrior or a victim it would have been a more successful alternate universe sort of story. Adding all the other characters and their reactions and choices to Gem's initial choice lessens the dual perspective of the consequences of her initial choice. I started out liking the book, thinking it might be an interesting way to tell the story, but it soon became tiring for me and the resolution to the two narratives were both not completely satisfying.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Sourcebooks/Landmark.

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