Unfortunately this book wasn't received well at all, with the exception of just a couple of the members (who really liked it) we found the book irritatingly unbelievable and couldn't connect emotionally with any of the characters, which given the difficult subjects covered in this book (child prostitution and loss of a child), could only be put down to the authors lack of descriptive writing, and character development.
We all started out, wanting to be engaged and educated by the subject matter but either found it hard to get into with the story swapping or were immediately put off by the writing style. Right from the beginning the characters were extremely cold, without emotion, making it hard for us as the readers to care about them, even though we understood the impact the events would have had in the real world. It almost felt as though Addison was writing a journalistic piece, just stating the facts rather than "showing" us a story. Addison seemed torn between wanting to write a legal thriller and a shocking story about two girls lead into the child trafficking world in India after the devastating effects of the Tsunami; one or the other would have sufficed. Many times at our meeting the "hero" was thrown in with regards to Thomas, every hunch he had seemed to pay off, and all the clues fell nicely together... This just wouldn't happen in the real world, let alone within three months of a child going missing and trafficked across the world into the "undergrowth".
Many of the members failed to finish the book, which is uncommon for us as a group, due to mainly his writing style, convenience of plot progress and lack of emotional connection with the characters. Even the quotes that were added at the top of each chapter seemed out of place, and irrelevant to the chapter ahead, as though they were there to make the book feel a more intelligent read.
It's a shame that as a group we found the plot unbelievable, Addison would have done better to keep to one or other of the genres (child trafficking or legal thriller) and also to one country to avoid the "Jet-Setting" that took place far too often in this book! The poor girls Sita and Ahalya went through a lot, but the details were too sanitary and just didn't get gritty and descriptive enough to make us believe or do justice to the very, very real issues of child exploitation. Thomas seemed to always "tag along" and kept saving the day, it all moved far too fast and should this have been a true story it's very unlikely that Sita would have been found at all, let alone in three months and without being hooked on drugs or sexually abused. It may seem as if we wanted to read a horror story, but in truth, all we wanted was a realistic novel, were the author had done their research, this did not seem the case.
Many members also stated how the writing was poor, non-descriptive making it difficult to place the surroundings, even though you knew the scene was in Bombay, or Paris, the writing done nothing to spark up our imagination. The couple of members who did enjoy the book, found it an eye opener, page turned and would read other books by Addison.
There were far too many characters in the book, the bad guys didn't seem as bad as they should have and the main characters were not developed well. Thomas was annoying from the beginning, self involved and thought himself a hero, who wasn't even really sure if he wanted to win his wife back at the beginning and if the convenience of a job opening in Bombay didn't arise, we're not sure he would have ever tried. Poor Tera, was a stereotypical office fling gone wrong and in general women were portrayed badly, never giving women in these horrendous situations enough justice.
The only parts that stuck with us, were how Sita managed to keep escaping but then getting caught - Never really enduring any harsh punishment and their pre Tsunami life was memorable. An eye opening passage, once mentioned by one member jogged the memory of others was the swallowing of large grapes, preparing Sita to be able to swallow the drug packages without chocking.
The ending was far too happy and unrealistic, all the ends were tied up and the only bit of sadness came in the form of an earlier side story of a young girl in the USA being found dead... It was as though that was thrown in to make sure the readers had mixed emotions towards the end. It would have worked much better as one story instead of two and set in one country. Both the girls were accepted back into society, even though Ahalya was unclean and was a single mother, sadly this would unlikely result in the happy ending portrayed.
Only 4 out of 17 would read another book by Corban Addison, making him one of our least popular authors. Interesting subject matter, just not written particularly well. The book is probably better suited to those who like "have a go hero", legal thrillers with a happy ending, which as it seems, is not really us.
We had 15 people give their score out of 10, resulting in an average of 4/10 (lowest score 2, highest 7)
Write up by Vicki