Stevens, Chevy. Never Knowing
Booklist Reviews 2011 May #1
Expectations are riding high for Stevens' second novel, after the breakout success of her debut, Still Missing (2010). The setup is tantalizing. Sara Gallagher has always known she was adopted, but she suddenly feels a sense of urgency about tracking down her birth parents, not only because she is about to marry the love of her life but also because she is the mother of a six-year-old and would at least like to know her own medical history. She's on the right track when she discovers that her birth mother is a professor at a local college but is shocked and dismayed when the woman refuses to talk with her. Then Sara learns that her birth mother is the only surviving victim of the notorious Campsite Killer, who was never caught, and that he is her father. When the news is leaked on the web, Sara's life becomes surreal, especially after her birth father starts calling her. Reprising the format of her first novel, Stevens has her heroine breathlessly narrate the events to a therapist; unfortunately, the gambit seems stale the second time around. In addition, a tiresome laundry list of premarital woes, an over-the-top plot twist, and an increasingly strained sense of hysteria mar what could have been a chilling plot. Still, the success of her previous novel will ensure an audience for this one. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Chevy Stevens' debut novel, Still Missing (2010), was a big hit, and her latest, despite the fact that it suffers from the dreaded sophomore slump, will have a 150,000-copy first printing, a reading group guide, and an extensive promotional campaign. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2011 February #2
Sometimes you must be really, really careful what you wish for. Sarah Gallagher wanted to find her birth parents—and discovered that her father was a serial killer who's never been caught. Stevens's debut, Still Missing, was a smash hit and especially popular with librarians. This next one has a one-day laydown on July 5, a reading group guide, and an extensive promotional campaign; definitely buy and consider multiples.[Page 88]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
LJ Reviews 2011 July #1
Stevens's debut, Still Missing, was a word-of-mouth (and critical) success. Her second thriller once again uses a flashback structure to set a suspenseful mood. Her protagonist, Sara Gallagher, tells her story in sessions with a therapist. Given up for adoption as a newborn, Sara has always felt the abandonment keenly, not least because her adoptive father seems to value her less than his two biological daughters. Now Sara has the chance to learn who her birth mother is. Though she is happily engaged and the mother of a six-year-old daughter, Sara needs to know—to an annoying degree. But her birth mother wants nothing to do with her and in fact seems somehow frightened of Sara. Undeterred, Sara continues to investigate and opens up a hornet's nest when she learns her birth father is a serial killer still on the loose. VERDICTStill Missing was such a strong debut, but everything that worked in that first novel has the opposite effect this time around, making the plot feel forced and the heroine unlikable. That said, this is a book fans will be anticipating, so some copies are a must. [A 150,000-copy first printing; library marketing; see Prepub Alert, 1/24/10.]—Jane Jorgenson, Madison P.L., WI[Page 74]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
PW Reviews 2011 May #1
Stevens's unnerving stand-alone thriller about a woman's search for her birth parents matches the intensity of her impressive debut, Still Missing. Growing up on Vancouver Island, Sara Gallagher felt emotionally detached from her adoptive family. Now 33, Sara finally locates her birth mother, university professor Julia Laroche, but is devastated when Julia wants nothing to do with her. Sara learns that she was conceived when her birth mother was attacked by the Campsite Killer, a serial killer responsible for a 40-year reign of terror, who has never been caught. When the circumstances of Sara's birth become public, her biological father contacts her, demanding to meet her and her six-year-old daughter. If she refuses, he will continue to kill. Stevens chillingly portrays a woman searching for her identity who's not just horrified by the results but fearful she or her child has inherited violent tendencies. While the plot flirts with clichés, the skillful storytelling never flags. 150,000 first printing. (July)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC