I have really struggled with the last few mainstream Nora Roberts novels. I just could not identify with the heroine of "Chasing Fire", I didn't even really like her, and the book seemed more about the life of a smoke-jumper than about the relationships in the story. "The Search" and "Black Hills" seemed more like information dumps on search and rescue dogs and wildlife shelters, respectively. Their plots seemed secondary to Nora telling us how much research she had done on these topics. Normally I pre-order a Nora hardback and download the audio the day of release. After three strikes in a row, I decided to stick to the audio and wait for the paperback if it still seems worth it.
I was SO RELIEVED to find that I really loved The Witness. The reader perfectly portrayed the genius teenager. We could feel her longing to be a normal teenager instead of forced into performing at a prodigy level by her overly controlling mother. Her one episode of defiance has serious, life-altering consequences and this is realistically reflected in the woman she becomes in the second part of the book. I remember some of the stupid, stupid things I did as an underage kid; I could really empathize with both her actions as a teenager and the way they shaped her adult character. Her high IQ also made the character very interesting as it really impacted the way she analyzes the world and people around her; she struggles with being overly literal and she is aware of her social awkwardness. I really LIKED this character and enjoyed seeing her growth.
The characters in the small tourist town in the Ozarks are an enjoyable, eccentric mix. There are many sub-plots with differing lengths of story arc which adds a lot of interest, so there is more than just the one line of suspense from Liz's past. This added depth to the adult portion of her story and I enjoyed that.
My only complaint is that the suspense part of the story had too short an ending. I wanted an epilogue that described the outcome of her last actions against her enemies, it was unsatisfying to just assume how things ended in those areas. I wanted some of the villains' detailed reactions in the ending of the story, the same way we had their reactions and thoughts in the earlier part of the story. It would have been more balanced.
Still, I have already listened to the story again, so that is the best recommendation of all!
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