- ISBN-10: 0307717143
- ISBN-13: 978-0307717146
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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The Innocent Hardcover
The Amazon Book Review
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Top Customer Reviews
In this sequel we see more of the scars to Michael's personality, and the dangers lurking so close to the surface. She is commissioned by some of her "friends" to rescue a teenager from a religious cult who have kidnapped her from her natural parents and immersed her in religious, social, mental and physical abuse. Michael has to face up to a different form of child abuse which challenges her mental and physical well-being.
The story is built on the personal experiences of the author, Taylor Stevens, who was brought up in a religious cult, raised in communes around the globe, denied an education beyond sixth grade and spent most of her adolescence begging on the streets, or caring for commune children. She only broke free of the commune in her early twenties. Her emergence as a major author is a fantastic achievement.
Given the background this book, it is not an easy or comfortable read and is not as good as the original in the series. The book shows the undoubted skills of the author and further develops the demons in the lead character.
Despite this it left me waiting for more adventures of Vanessa Michael Munroe to be released, hopefully on more straightforward, more adventurous and less personally emotional issues.
But she's getting restless, and her old friend Logan (who appears in The Informationist) has come calling with a new assignment. Logan was once a part of a communal cult, and wants Michael's help to get a 14-year-old girl out of the cult's compound in Argentina. She agrees to do it, not for the money, but for love of Logan, and, the more she learns about the cult, for the sake of justice. Using her skills of stealth, observation, charm, bribery, disguise, multi-liguism and vicious knife-fighting, she infiltrates the cult and discovers the deeper truths of what goes on behind their gates.
The most interesting thing about this story is that Stevens was, until her early 20s, part of a cult movement called The Children of God, later called The Family. A brief review of internet information about The Children of God indicates that the Chosen, the cult in The Innocent, is modeled after the Children of God, including their isolation from the outside world, communal living, sending the children into the streets to beg for funds, and authoritative leadership. Sadly, Stevens's depiction of the cult member's sex with children within the group, and prostituting the children to people outside the group, was all too real in The Children of God. I can imagine that Stevens, as a child or teen trapped in this group, would have loved for a knife-wielding, justice-seeking liberator of young ladies to come to her rescue.
Disturbing cult realism aside, Stevens continues the unbelievable story telling she began with The Informationist. Michael has a chameleon-like ability in language and appearance, she uses her fighting and killing abilities to best men twice her size, and has an uncanny sense of being in the right (or wrong, depending on your perspective) place at the right time. Her quest is certainly aided by some unlikely coincidences, and the plot spirals into unanticipated regions. All that said, The Innocent is still entertaining escapist story telling, perfect listening for my dull commute. I will look forward to the next Vanessa Michael Munroe adventure.