Book Review: Baby Doll by Hollie Overton

by - 9:00:00 PM

 Title: Baby Doll
Author: Hollie Overton
Pages: 281
Genre: Adult Mystery/Thriller
Release Date: 12 July 2016

From Goodreads: "For fans of Gone Girl and Girl on the Train, Baby Doll is the most tense thriller you will read this year.

Held captive for eight years, Lily has grown from a teenager to an adult in a small basement prison. Her daughter Sky has been a captive her whole life. But one day their captor leaves the deadbolt unlocked.

This is what happens next...

...to her twin sister, to her mother, to her daughter...and to her captor."

Thank you to NetGalley and Redhook Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for review! All opinions are my own. 

I get a lot of my book recommendations from BookTubers that I watch, and this one came from PeruseProject. I feel like we have a lot of similar tastes in books and as this was a book club pick for her, I figured I'd give it a try. This is marketed as a book "for fans of Gone Girl and Girl on the Train" but as someone who has never read those books (I have seen the movies, however), I can't say whether or not this book is similar to those. Comparing the movies to this book, though, I can definitely say this is not like either The Girl on the Train or Gone Girl. I think that my expectations were probably set a bit too high for this book because I was definitely let down while reading. It wasn't a completely terrible book, but it just wasn't the book I thought it would be.

Plot:
This book starts at the end of an 8 year kidnapping. Lily has been held in a cabin basement for over three thousand days and one day, her captor leaves the door unlocked. Scared that this may be another test, she tentatively steps out of the basement to find that she's alone and can escape. She wraps up her daughter and makes a run for it, finally free after all these years. After she makes it home, the book continues on with what happens to her, her twin sister, her mother, and her captor as they all deal with Lily's return. I don't exactly know what I expected from this book, if I'm being honest, but it wasn't what I got. You get several different points of view and get to see how Lily's return affects the people in her life and that alone was enough to make me dread continue reading. I'm not a fan of multiple POV books, and this was one where I feel like it could have been kept to maybe two points of view- Lily's and the captor, Rick's. It felt like there was a lot going on but at the same time that there wasn't really anything going on, if that makes sense? You're basically watching lives unfold with maybe two "twists" that are thrown in there for what felt like dramatic effect. This book definitely had a telling rather than showing problem where there was a lot of "this happened then this and then this" and I found myself getting quite bored fairly early on. I also had some serious problems with how the characters acted throughout and never really understood why some things happened as they just didn't feel right for the book. I think that this would be a good book for someone who enjoys thrillers that lean more towards the aftermath rather than focusing on the actual event itself, especially because this one could be considered pretty graphic. So all in all, the plot wasn't what I was looking for but I could see where others might enjoy it.

Characters:
Boy oh boy did I not enjoy any of the characters in this book. Abby was probably one of the worst characters I've ever read about, if I'm being honest. While I don't have a twin and have not experienced one of my siblings being kidnapped for eight years, what she did while Lily was gone was just beyond comprehension for me. No spoilers, but I was just constantly annoyed by her character. She was impulsive and destructive and didn't seem to care what happened to people around her as long as she could do what she wanted at the time. This holds true up until the very end of the book and I can safely say that she annoyed me until the last page. I did like that she finally realized that she needed help and was able to admit that to herself, but that wasn't enough to redeem her character for me. The parts about Eve, Lilly and Abby's mother, were all about her infidelity and sometimes about her trying to take care of her girls. I didn't understand why the author chose to hyper fixate on the fact that Eve was basically sleeping around and cheated on her husband all throughout the book, but it was definitely a negative for me. Again, she did finally see what she was doing and decided to start taking care of herself and her family more, but she just didn't win any Mother of the Year awards from me. Granted, I can sort of see why these things were written about, because these characters were going through the loss of a loved one and were trying to basically cope as best as they could. So while I may not agree, I can understand and see where the actions came from, however awful they were. When it came to Rick, Lily's captor, I just found myself disgusted with him. He was so creepy and constantly talked about how he kidnapped a 16 year old girl (Lily) because he loved her. Just...no. But he was well-written and definitely gave off the appropriate creeper vibe, so snaps to Hollie Overton for doing a good job with that one. Now, I have no experience with being kidnapped, so I cannot say whether or not Lily's actions were "accurate," but I constantly found myself questioning some of the things she did. When asked to give the name of her captor, she insisted on taking the police to him instead. This was a huge red flag to me as I do not feel that someone who had been held hostage in a basement for eight years and was raped and tortured would be so quick to want to see her captor face to face. She also hugged a lot of people and was touched quite a bit and again, I don't feel like someone who had been experiencing some pretty graphic abuse for such a long period of time would want to be touched in any way. Sky, her daughter, did seem to have some pretty "authentic" reactions such as separation anxiety and fear of crowds/large spaces, but Lily's reactions just didn't feel right to me. Again, I cannot say what the "proper" reaction would be, but it just didn't seem like a lot of her actions or decisions were that of someone trying to recover from such severe trauma. Unfortunately, all of these characters really missed the mark with me.

Writing:
I believe I stated above that I felt this book was a case of telling and not showing. Granted, this isn't a fantasy story with unicorns and magic, but I would have liked to see a bit more rather than just have been told. It did feel very "real" in the sense that you could see this happening in a real world scenario and the characters felt like they were "real" enough, but that may be the only plus I can think of. The writing in general I did enjoy and I would probably pick up another book by the author just because I found her writing rather easy to just sit down and fly through. The size of this book was great at 281 pages, so it's definitely one that you could easily read in one or two sittings. It doesn't read like a psychological thriller to me personally, as the only potential "thrill" in this book has to do with Abby and what in the world she could possibly do next. You're reading about how this family is now adjusting to having their loved one back that they thought they lost and seeing how Lily and Sky are reacting to the outside world after being locked in a basement for so long. At best, it was okay, but I did enjoy how easy it was to read.

While this may not have been the psychological thriller I was looking for, it may have the potential to satisfy someone elses craving for a more calm mystery/thriller. Baby Doll would probably be good for someone looking for a book with some heavy family drama and a small bit of thrill when it comes to what may or may not happen to both Lily and her kidnapper. It was alright, but definitely missed the mark for me, unfortunately.

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