22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2011
I was looking forward to reading this book based on its reviews and because I thought I would get some kind of insight into the mind of an abductor and his victim. I don't think that I've come across characters that I've liked less or cared less about than the characters in this novel, that includes the mother, father, and Caitlin (the returned abducted teenage daughter). I felt that the dialogue was being repeated in every chapter by the characters and it was tiresome. By the middle of the novel, I found that I was forcing myself to finish the book and hoping to find some kind of understanding of the subject of child abduction and the people who commit such an act.....I didn't. I guess you can try to read this book if you have nothing else to read, but I didn't enjoy it in the least.
40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2011
Losing a child is devastating for the parents, but is it worse when the child simply disappears?
Leading an idealistic life, Tom and Abby Stuart have it all - a good marriage, successful careers, nice home and a delightful 12-year-old daughter, Caitlin. Then their world is scattered. Caitlin takes the family dog, Frosty, out for a walk and only the dog returns home.
Four years later Caitlin is discovered alive. She's disheveled, dirty, but unnaturally calm. She won't discuss the four years she's been gone or what happened to her. When an arrest is finally made in the case, Caitlin refuses to testify against the man.
Caitlin's disappearance had taken it's toll on the Stuart marriage. With her return, additional conflict is added and the marriage dissolves. Needing answers and fearing his daughter might have been involved in her own disappearance, Tom begins to investigate on his own. His determination could cause him to lose Caitlin again, land himself in jail and uncover information that will shock him.
CEMETERY GIRL is a nail-biting, grip your seat read. Parents will be shaking their heads in disbelief while keeping an extra watch on their youngsters because of the plausibility of the story.
Author David Bell tells the story from the father's point of view. Readers will feel his agony, as well as a roller coaster of other emotions. CEMETERY GIRL puts a new spin on how readers will look at children's disappearances.
Author David Bell's website is [...]
Cemetery Girl by David Bell, NAL Trade, @2011, ISBN: 9780451234674, Paperback, 400 pages
FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2012
Trigger warning. This book, concerning the abduction of a young girl, was obviously inspired by the Elizabeth Smart abduction case in Utah, my home state. Like that situation, the young girl is kidnapped, sexually abused--in this book, for several years--and then denies her identity at first when she is found. Unfortunately, the similarities stop there. The father in this book is far less concerned about his daughter than he is in finding out the specific details of what happened to her. Yum yum, what a fine dad. I won't go into further details other than to say that I found the father's behavior warped in the extreme. In fact, I found myself thinking that with parents like the ones this girl had it was hardly surprising that she was willing to get into a car with a strange man. In general, I found the author's portrayals and thinking very odd. The opening chapter of the book recounts, from the father's view, an incident where his little daughter lied to him. Was the author trying to imply that little girls who lie to their daddies deserve punishment of whatever sort they get? Ugh, particularly in view of the fact that lying is quite normal for young children and should hardly be taken as an indication of a character flaw. Not much else I could say about this mess except that ironically the most admirable and human character in the book was the family dog, and that I found myself wishing for some brain bleach so I could wash the whole thing right out of my mind.
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2012
Don't make the same mistake I did: Don't keep valiantly wading through this book, thinking it will get better. It won't.
The characters were unsympathetic and largely uninteresting, didn't seem to have distinct or well developed personalities (unless you consider Ineffectual Selfish Jerk to be a personality, in which case the father definitely qualifies) and didn't have their own voices. I hate it when characters in books all speak with the same or similar cadence, word choice and style.
SPOILER ALERTS, although I'm not exactly spoiling a good story, so what the heck. Here goes:
1. In the first chapter, the father watches his six year old daughter almost get hit by a car and run off across the street. His response is to go back inside, finish making dinner and then politely ask her about it later. What? Seriously? I don't even know any *bad* parents who would blithely walk back inside after seeing that. My first reaction was that this author must not have children. Then I thought "Well, that's uncharitable. You don't have to experience something firsthand to write about it convincingly," which just made this bad writing.
2. What irritated me enough to write this review instead of just tossing this book aside was the scene in which the father was told about a witness who had seen the girl with a creepy older man in a sexual situation. The father's reaction is to suspect that this means that her daughter either hadn't been kidnapped or was staying with her kidnapper voluntarily. Quote: "Didn't that mean she wanted to be there?" Again, what? How could a father (even an imaginary one) be so tone deaf about kidnapping, about Stockholm Syndrome, about sexual coercion, about issues of consent that this would be the first thing to cross their mind? "Well, according to witness accounts, she's almost catatonic and being exploited by an older man. They must be so happy together. I should track them down so I can send them a nice housewarming present."
Even assuming that it was thrown in to show the character's doubt and (ha!) character development, I found it offensive, frankly. There didn't seem to be much pullback from that statement.
It's all downhill from there, and it wasn't a big hill to begin with.
3. When Caitlin is found (no spoilers there, since it's right in the description on the back of the book), the father's entire motivation is curiosity: He just wants to find out what happened. He doesn't care about his daughter's emotional recovery, he doesn't seem concerned with taking care of her or protecting her and in fact places her in danger just to attempt to get more information. This man isn't even a plausible representation of a horrible father, he's just horrible. I kept waiting for him to have some sort of epiphany or personal growth and start acting like a human being, but no, right to the end he just wanted his curiosity satisfied.
He's like the robot from Short Circuit: "Need more input," except that the robot was a much more human and sympathetic character.
I could even have overlooked a lot of this if the overall story had been better or more interesting, but it wasn't.
Please don't force yourself to finish this book, thinking it will get better.
It won't. Put it down. Walk away.
45 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2011
I got Cemetary Girl on Wednesday. Started reading it on Thursday and just finished it on Sunday. And that was reading nights only. Needless to say, I didn't get my usual eight hours sleep because I couldn't put the darned thing down. The author's writing style is compelling, and he is a genius at writing short, cliff-hanger chapters that leave the reader saying, "I can read one more chapter before I turn out the light."
Based on the novel's back-cover copy, I expected the typical strong marriage deteriorates after child disappears. When child is found four years later "dirty and disheveled yet preternaturally calm," parents must come to terms with what their little girl, now sixteen, has suffered. What I didn't expect, and what drove me nuts, was the deep psychological changes the father goes through when he reunites with his damaged daughter.
From my persepective, this novel is less about what happens to a family after child abduction as it is about what one man, himself abused during childhood, goes through when he is forced to come to terms with the fact that Daddy's Little Girl has been seduced by another man. This character is obsessed with finding out the details of his daughter's four-year captivity. He is so obsessed that he lies to his wife, the police, his brother and his daughter (among others) to get what he wants. He even goes as far as using his only child as leverage and putting her in danger in order to gain detailed information about her sorid life during those years. If this book is a thriller,it is a phychological thriller that left me feeling frustrated. I don't doubt this man's journey, but it saddens me.
However, and I love this about the novel, when I finished the final page, I had a smile on my face and hope in my heart.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2012
This is a rare example of a book that I gave up on much later than I should have.
The characters motivations change at the drop of a hat. Apparently if the plot requires it, any emotion or behavior is possible.
A small example of this is when, Tom (the main character) gets the crap beat out of him by his brother and then, minutes later,(because the plot requires it!) decides not to turn him in to the police because of what a great brother he was when they were kids.
Wow, whatta guy. This book is littered with these types of emotional U-turns.
I had kept reading it for so long because I was curious about the resolution, but with such increasingly implausible behavior by all the characters, I gave up. No ending could make up for the twisted path of this totally implausible tale.
Good luck if you decide to read it.
30 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2011
This is an awful book. Unrealistic dialogue, unrealistic characters, unlikable characters. I just couldn't seem to care anything about the people in this story. Also, there are a lot of undeveloped story lines. I understand that they were added to try to create mystery but mostly it just created annoyance because they were either unresolved or wound up being stupid. Being able to weave it all together is a mark of a good author. It didn't happen here. I made myself finish the book because I had paid for it but really it was a double punishment, waste of my money and my time! Hopefully this will save you, dear reader, from a similar fate!!!
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2012
I can get past the typos throughout the book. I can even get past the below average writing, but what I cannot get past is the awful storyline and unrealistic characters. This book may take the cake for being the worst book I've ever read. I'm trying to think back, mentally wading through all the books I've read, and I cannot think of another one that is as awful as this one. I'm not usually that picky, and I tend to find positive aspects of a book no matter what novel I'm reading, but there is so little depth to this book and the characters are so pitifully written that I cannot muster up one compliment. And the dialogue; don't even get me started on that.
Right away, I was annoyed with the main characters. By chapter 4, I was rolling my eyes at their stupidity, but I kept truckin' along, certain that things would improve. The first really ridiculous part of the book comes when Tom and Abby find their daughter and meet her at the police station. Tom is already making seriously stupid promises and acting like a fool, but okay...whatever. Everything was painfully unrealistic.
Then comes the hospital visit. This is when I KNEW I was working with an author that doesn't like to do research, and who clearly got his very short span of information on the female body from an outdated medical journal written in 1802. When detective Ryan comes out of the hospital room and tells Tom and Abby that Caitlin must have been raped because her hymen is broken, I nearly slammed the book closed. OH MY GOD! Are you kidding me?
First of all, that kind of information wouldn't come from a detective. It would come from the doctor standing in the next room. Second, most 16 year old girls have no hymen, and it may very well not be due to sexual activity at all what so ever. Without being too graphic, or offending anyone, it's pretty obvious if you think about why this makes zero sense. Has David Bell been living in the dark ages? Point here is: if you're going to write a book about this type of subject matter and you're bringing into question whether or not the "victim" has been raped, you never write a scene in which some hulking, meat-head detective walks up to the parents and says something award-winningly stupid, like, Tom, I hate to tell you this, but Caitlin has no hymen. This was some of the worst dialogue I've ever had the misfortune of reading.
As if that wasn't bad enough, Tom and Abby fight over the silliest, most unrealistic things throughout the entire book. Abby keeps bringing around this creepy pastor dude named "Pastor Chris" and no matter how annoyed he makes Tom, he's continually allowed access to their daughter, and he's allowed to move in on Tom's territory at every turn.
Then there's Buster, Tom's brother. This is another turd of a character. He's involved in Caitlin's abduction (to one degree or another), yet Tom doesn't mind, and won't even tell the police where his brother is, despite the entire book being centered around Tom wanting to find out the truth regarding his daughter's abduction. Sure...'cause that's totally believable.
That brings me to the worst aspect of this book. The story isn't really about Caitlin coming home or her transition into her former life. No, no. That would have made too much sense. No, the story is about a father. A father who wants his daughter to return home more than anything in the world, yet when she does, he's not too happy about the young woman she's become. Then, the focus of the book (Tom's goal), becomes finding out what the abductor (whom Caitlin is in love with, by the way), did to her during the four years he had her with him. I was particularly impressed by the scene in which Tom takes a drive out to the abductor's home and has, what seemed to be, an all too pleasant conversation with the very man who took his little girl 4 years prior.
Fast forward to the end of the book: Tom's so obsessed with finding out if the abductor had sex with his daughter that he's willing to give her back to him if he'll tell Tom everything he did to her. Last minute, Tom realizes that he cannot let Caitlin go again; he loves her too much. The cops nab the abductor, Buster seems to have gotten away with whatever the hell he did to involve himself in the abduction (it was never really explained), Abby moves into the church with Pastor Chris and Caitlin, and Tom sees Caitlin on weekends.
No exaggeration, this was a terrible, awful, stupid, silly, pathetic excuse of a novel. I feel pretty confident that most 12 year old children could write more realistic dialogue than David Bell. And to think, before reading this book, I nearly ordered more of his novels. This has taught me one thing, though: some of the reviews on Amazon are WILDLY misleading. To each his or her own, I guess.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2012
I read up on the reviews before ordering this book and it sounded pretty solid, words such as page turner, thriller, unimaginable ending, couldn't put it down... I titled this Confused because I honestly don't know how any avid reader could have attached those descriptors to this novel. I trudged through this book and mainly kept motivated by the review of this stellar ending. Good god was I disappointed I didn't put this book down sooner. Lack of character development: the father comes across as a troglodyte that appears to have no emotional intelligence or ability to critically think, the mother a shell of a female character and so on. No emotional depth, surface level without a moment of transcending into their world... it keeps you at arms length and continually goads you into turning the page for possibly one ounce of relevant, good dialogue or development of plot, only to be let down.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2012
The writing was good, but the plot quickly became very predictable (abducted girl comes home, the sullen victim of Stockholm Syndrome). This book could have been so much more than it was. The characters were very two-dimensional, the villain just gross, and it was very hard to garner any sympathy for the victim, as she was surly, mouthy, and whined about going back to her abductor in nearly every conversation. The confrontation between Tom, the girl's father, and Coulter, was so unrealistic that my eyes nearly rolled out of my head - no pedophile would gloat to the father of the girl he abducted the way he did. A waste of money and worse, leisure time. Highly disappointing.