Kidnappings of children are generally met with media sensation. Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard are probably two of the most well known kidnapping stories of all time. Both of these women went on to be bugged by the media, wrote books about their experiences and completed interviews chronicling their abductions. In Chelsea Cain’s new novel, One Kick, she creates a character not unlike Smart or Dugard: a female abducted for a lengthy period of time who is rescued, but instead arms herself to the teeth with intelligence and self defense as she’s determined never to be in the same situation again.
Kick Lannigan was only six years old when she was kidnapped. A man promised to help her find her dog, Monster, who had recently escaped. Whisked away by this man, Kick was kept captive for five years before she was rescued. She quickly became a media sensation when she was rescued, her mother writing a book and taking countless interviews. Kick, however, spends all that time trying to escape her past. Instead of conventional therapy, she finds that learning various martial arts, teaching herself to pick locks and shooting her Glock are her necessary kinds of therapy. Her life is relatively steady. She spends most of her time training herself in these self defense techniques just in case she’s attacked or kidnapped again, but at the age of 21, she doesn’t have much worry about that. The rest of her time she spends with her brother James and her dog, Monster. It isn’t until the anniversary of her kidnapping approaches that she is startled by a mysterious former weapons dealer named Bishop. It turns out that this Bishop character wants Kick’s help finding two missing children in the Seattle area. Kick already knows about the missing kids, but she hasn’t done more than monitor the police scanner for news of their well being. Kick reluctantly agrees to help him, but soon learns she is going to get more than she bargained for by opening up that part of her life again.
Chelsea Cain is best known for her thriller series Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell series, which is currently on hold while she launches her Kick Lannigan series. Being that One Kick is the first in what will probably turn into a multi book series for Cain, it’s easy to say that there’s a lot of story left. This novel is very much a tightly paced thriller with heavy levels of suspense, but it doesn’t flesh out the characters as much as the reader might want. However, that might be a good thing considering Cain is planning on writing a few more books about Kick.
The story itself is rather riveting and interesting. Cain creates Kick, who isn’t instantly lovable, does grow on the reader. Kick has a lot on her plate throughout the novel and really does her best to open up and be as personable as possible through the story. At times she really isn’t that accessible as a heroine, but by the end of One Kick she surely turns herself into a likable character. Cain does a great job as well with filling in the rest of the supporting cast with interesting characters as well. James, Kick’s pseudo-brother (not actually related), functions as her sidekick in her post kidnapping recovery years. Kick’s mother is painted as a self involved fashionista who cares only about how big her spot in the limelight is. Kick’s actual sidekick for this first novel is the former weapons dealer we know as Bishop. Although he’s extremely cold at first, he warms up generously to the reader and becomes more likable towards the end. The only genuine issue with the novel is the empty ending. The story finishes up nice and tight, but there really isn’t much to go on that warrants a second book. There is a bit of a cliffhanger involving some of the characters, but not nearly enough to have people pre-ordering the next Kick Lannigan book.
Chelsea Cain has proven herself before and here she does it again: she’s a fantastic mystery/suspense writer. Her brand new Kick Lannigan series pulls the same punches that her previous series did, provides similar twists and turns and is generally consistent in quality thus far. The characters and story were enough to get this first book to jumpstart a series, but only time will tell if it’s enough to keep another Cain suspense thriller series afloat.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10 – While One Kick did provide some suspense, thrill and general wonderment about child abduction, it did fail to make the reader want the next installment immediately. The stories greatness did not outweigh the fact that there was a serious lack of a substantial cliffhanger that will make the reader buy the next Kick Lannigan book on release day.
One Kick will be published on August 19th, 2014. You can purchase it here.