With The Innocent, Taylor Stevens, the best-selling author of The Informationist, returns with another blockbuster thriller featuring the fearless Vanessa Michael Munroe.
Eight years ago, a man walked five-year-old Hannah out the front doors of her school and spirited her over the Mexican border, taking her into the world of a cult known as The Chosen. For eight years, followers of The Prophet have hidden the child, moving her from country to country, shielding the man who stole her.
Now, those who’ve searched the longest know where to find her. They are childhood survivors of The Chosen, thirty-somethings born and raised inside the cult who’ve managed to make lives for themselves on the outside. They understand the mindset, the culture within that world, and turn to Vanessa Michael Munroe for help, knowing that the only possibility of stealing Hannah back and getting her safely out of Argentina is to trust someone who doesn’t trust them, and get Munroe on the inside.
Tautly written, brilliantly paced, and with the same evocation of the exotic combined with chilling violence that made The Informationist such a success, The Innocent confirms Taylor Stevens’ reputation as a thriller writer of the first rank.
©2011 Taylor Stevens (P)2011 Random House
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My understanding is that this is the second of a trilogy that Taylor Stevens is writing that features the character Munroe. I read The Informationist (book one) and thought it was entertaining enough to go another round. "I wanted to like this," sounds like an idiotic thing to say--of course you want to like anything you read--but alas, wanting didn't make it so, and I reluctantly have to say this was a bit of a stinker. Definitely several notches down from The Informationist. You can't say the author doesn't know her material (having escaped her own cult upbringing), but aside from her lucid observations of the cult mentality, the story stumbles, fettered by cliches and predictability, and falls flat. Had narrator Hillary Huber not made this such a smooth and painless listen--I probably would not have stuck it out.
I can't tell whether it is the fantastic performance by Hillary Huber (I would listen to her read the phone book) or the writing of Taylor Stevens. The story is delicate and the violence often and bloody. I do not like the subject matter (cult abuse of children) or the gratuitous violence and yet the book was hugely entertaining. The central character is compelling, if somewhat of a superwoman. I will read her next book as long as Hillary Huber narrates it.
Every now and then I pick up an audiobook that just sucks me in and when I emerge from the other side of it, all I remember is the rush of the ride and none of the rocks I may have bounced off along the way. This is one of those books. The slow build of tension, the moments of lightning quick violence, the vivid settings, and the well-developed characters that seemed almost real kept me listening until all hours of the morning.
Munroe is a fascinating character and in the second book in this series the reader gets more insight into the complexity of her psychological makeup as well as the changes she’s undergoing based on events in the previous book and the choices she makes in this one. The story plays itself out with both a sense of inevitability, like a boulder building speed down a long slope, as well as sharp moments of action. Layered in with the physical action that drives the story forward are the instances of recognition and connection the reader can find with any/all of these fully-formed characters.
Hillary Huber’s narration was excellent. I often take issue with the performance of narrators who present with a very specific and structured cadence but in this case, Huber’s rough voice and deliberate pacing and delivery admirably ratchets up the tension and adeptly portrays Munroe’s moral ambivalence and matter-of-fact attitude toward doing what needs to be done. The characters are easy to track through sections of dialogue and I experienced an almost physical shiver while listening to the voices given two specific characters whose belief in what they were doing, combined with the fact that what they did was just wrong, was masterfully blended together to create a complex vocal portrayal.
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Taylor Stevens second novel is, unfortunately without much of what made her first novel so exciting to read. I think it might have scored it lower if it weren't for the excellent narration which did a great deal to smooth out what would have been a jumpy story line.
And while The Informationist kept me up all night listening, The Innocent tended to put me to sleep in many places...and I didn't even care to scroll back to listen over again.
Reading an interview of Ms Stevens, she expressed that she wrote this book in 6 months because she was broke. It shows..and thats sad. I sincerely hope she spends more time on her third novel...Vanessa Michael Munroe is a strong character and Ms Stevens has built a solid background of side characters that could take her a long way with more development of the story line and plot.
While the idea behind The Innocent is a good one, so much of the plot is shallow and without reasonable or believable development. Ms Munroes 'talent' of being an Informationist never comes to light-she isn't a researcher, in fact she seems to have others do this researching for her. She's now a tough woman with attitude and a tendency to knife people who piss her off. The intelligence shown in the first novel is gone from this one.
Better luck, Ms Stevens, on your third book. I hope you have more than 6 months to give it.
Hope not, but this book, second in what I read is to be a trilogy, doesn't bode well for the Michael Monroe series. The initial premise is okay, (involves cult life and those sections in the cult are fine) but it seems that's all there is--a decent premise and a lukewarm attempt at threading it into a story as thrilling as the Informationist had been. Anything outside of the central plot felt contrived and was ultimately boring. The main characters--all of whom I grew to like in the first one were just irritating in this one. I forced myself to listen to the very end out of respect for the first novel (The Informationist) that was so far superior.
I found both "The Informationist" and "The Innocent" kept me listening and not wanting to stop. Vanessa Michael Monroe is original, unlike any other lead character. Hillary Huber does an excellent job as narrator.
registered nurse. first book to collect ATLAS SHRUGGED. audible goes to barbados with me every year.
The narrator does an excellent job!!!!!. However I enjoyed the first book The Informationist much more, kept me more on the edge of my seat. The Innocent had some boring parts, and totally not as interesting as The Informationist
Yes to hope that her 3rd book would be as good as her first
clear, well spoken, makes the story more interesting that it really is
I loved the first book, 'The Informationist' where we were introduced to the main character
Vanessa Michael Monroe. A female version of James Bond, Houdini and Lara Croft ... all rolled into one woman with true grit!!! She kicks butt all through the book, shows some of her softer side too. Gets the bad guys and saves the daughter of her best friend. All in all a very satisfying second read from Taylor Stevens.
A must read! Yet again... I am invigorated with courage through Vanessa Munroe. In addition, the actress reading the book is fantastic. Truly bring it to life. Looking forward to more adventures.
Got to love the lead character, Vanessa Michael Munroe... she is sharp, tough, flawed and unstoppable. A kind of Wonder Woman with guns and sharp knives, fighting for justice and never fearing to leave a few bodies behind. Bad people get what's coming to them. Excellent writing, a good number of twists, and leaves you cheering at the end.
You don't have to read the Informationist first but it is such a good book - I highly recommend it. Stevens gives little snippets of what you need to know about our characters so you won't feel adrift in this second book about Monroe, if you've not read the first one.
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