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2017 Reading Challenge

Jill Elizabeth has read 2 books toward her goal of 150 books.
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Book Review: Lockdown by Laurie R. King

“…a dispassionate corner of his mind remarked on how rage could shift from hot and uncontrollable into cold and deliberate. All it took to restore sanity was a step into decision. Once a man had committed to a course of action, the chatter of rage fell away, and life grew simple.”

WOW. Just, wow. This was an amazing story – the pacing, the build, the Big Reveal, the resolution… It was all spot-on perfect. I love Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell series – I devoured all of the books (even the not so great pirate movie one buried in the middle) and am really hoping she keeps writing them. I haven’t tried the Kate Martinelli yet – I loved the period pieces of the other series so much that I was having a hard time conceiving of her writing in a contemporary voice. Then I saw this latest book on NetGalley and decided it was worth a try, given how much I liked her writing style. I am SO immensely glad I did – and now Kate Martinelli is rocketing to the top of my To Be Read list…

The topic of this one – a school shooting – initially turned me off. I have a little girl about to enter Pre-K in the fall, and teenage step-kids (one in high school, one just starting college), and the thought of them learning lockdown drills horrifies and saddens me to no end. School should be a safe place, period, end of sentence. But increasingly it is not – for many reasons, not the least of which is school shootings. So I wasn’t sure I’d be able to read this one without getting myself all worked up. Well, I DID get worked up, but not in the way I feared – that is how deftly Ms. King manages her subject matter…

“Sometimes, what people were hiding could remain hidden, without the world coming to an end.”

To say the book is a slow build is rather an understatement. It isn’t until 83% in – yes, more than 4/5 of the story! – before the lockdown/Big Action even occurs. I kept thinking, with each new chapter, that it HAD to happen soon; it was knife-edge suspense, built so artfully and paced so perfectly, that I simultaneously dreaded and couldn’t wait for every turn of the page… But it wasn’t like I spent the book waiting – the back stories and underlying character and plot development were so intricately intermingled and so well crafted that I didn’t even realize how deep into the story I was getting, while still technically waiting for the story to actually start! Suspense like this is an art form, truly; it takes a very skilled hand to tease the reader along for the vast majority of the book without ever causing said reader to stop and wonder where things were going or why the eponymous action hadn’t kicked in yet.

The characters are just as marvelously detailed and play out just as brilliantly as the plot development. There are so many layers to each character; no one is who they seem and the blend of expectations, assumptions, and realities is heart-breaking and uplifting and so utterly redolent of being in middle school. These kids aren’t kids. But they aren’t adults either, despite what the world has shown them. Then again, neither are many of the age-determined “adults” in their world. Everyone is human and frail and broken and reassembling themselves piece by painstaking piece, and all of that chaos is reflected in the world around them up to and through the actual event of the lockdown. It’s all simply brilliant – pitch-perfect storytelling…

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