Monday, August 15, 2016

Book Review: "Livia Lone" by Barry Eisler

Barry Eisler has done it again. The author of the fantastic series of thrillers featuring John Rain has created another memorable, kick-ass character.

Growing up in Thailand, Labee protected her younger sister, Nason. Labee was brave, feisty, independent, good with tools and with weapons needed to hunt food. One day she and Nason are abducted by a group of traffickers to whom her parents sold them. Labee doesn't understand why they were sold, or what is going to happen to them, but she knows above anything that she must protect Nason. Facing abuse at the hands of their abductors, she constantly tries to keep Nason safe even at her own expense, until one day her rage and protective instinct get the best of her. And that is one of the last times she sees her sister.

When she finds herself rescued in the small town of Llewellyn, Idaho, she isn't sure what to expect, even as she is presented the chance for a new life. Taking the name of Livia, she finds herself not far from the life she knew before despite her surroundings, but the only thing that keeps her surviving on a daily basis is her desire to know what happened to her sister and where she is—and her vow to seek revenge on those who harmed them. She takes this passion for justice and a first-hand knowledge of monsters like her abductors and becomes a sex crimes detective in Seattle. She does everything she can to bring rapists and other criminals to justice, or she handles it her own way when the system fails.

"Sometimes, she almost wanted the prosecutor to say no, or to plea the charges down. It was a reason, an excuse, to do it her way instead. But she knew she had to be careful of that temptation. There was a balance. She respected the system, but she wouldn't be a slave to it."

Slowly but surely she tracks down those responsible for her and Nason's abduction years before. And when she uncovers a massive conspiracy was behind her rescue, for nefarious purposes, she forces herself to relive those days of torture to get the answers she seeks, to try and find what happened to her sister once and for all, and to make people pay. She has waited too long and suffered too much to let anyone get the best of her this time, no matter the risks and no matter what it costs her.

Livia Lone is a dark and disturbing book, but the bravery of its main character and Eisler's storytelling ability make it impossible to put down. Livia is one of the most fascinating female characters I've seen in quite some time, perhaps since first meeting Lisbeth Salander in Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy. She is raw, passionate, brave, and has a tremendous heart to go along with her physical and mental toughness. This is a young woman who thought she has lived her whole life for one purpose, to find her sister, but really helps so many more people through the work she does.

I love the way Eisler writes, and his facility with both action scenes and suspense are tremendous. Livia seems like a character who would be as fascinating to see on film as she was to read about. I hope to see Livia in another book someday—perhaps joining forces with John Rain?

NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

1 comment:

  1. Eisler rights pretty well, but his main character, Livia has some disturbing trait: she rapes a boy, she gets a sexual thrill from murder, and she is a pathological liar.
    Eisler also seems to have drunk a little too deeply from the social justice well of race and gender hatred. All the bad people are white, all the good people are female, and Livia herself is bigoted towards a female roommate at college, attributing her roommate's attitude to racism instead of befriending her.
    Sadly, Eisler succumbs to the temptation to make his star a super-woman. Livia is just naturally better than anyone at everything-learns English in 2 months, learns motorcycle mechanics, Olympic ju jitsu artist, regularly beats up men twice her size, and also is an expert in electronics-the usual female tropes one would expect from a lesser writer.

    Barry Eisler has decided to cash in on the latest social trends, so i can't blame him for making money, however, as a writer his integrity is now in question.