Thursday, August 2, 2012

Drowning Instinct by Ilsa Bick

Drowning Instinct by Ilsa Bick
Release Date – February 1, 2012
Publisher Website –  Lerner Publishing Group
Pages -  352 pages
My Rating- 3.5/5
**obtained from the library**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
There are stories where the girl gets her prince, and they live happily ever after. (This is not one of those stories.)
Jenna Lord’s first sixteen years were not exactly a fairytale. Her father is a controlling psycho and her mother is a drunk. She used to count on her older brother—until he shipped off to Afghanistan. And then, of course, there was the time she almost died in a fire.  
There are stories where the monster gets the girl, and we all shed tears for his innocent victim. (This is not one of those stories either.) 
Mitch Anderson is many things: A dedicated teacher and coach. A caring husband. A man with a certain... magnetism.  
And there are stories where it’s hard to be sure who’s a prince and who’s a monster, who is a victim and who should live happily ever after. (These are the most interesting stories of all.) 
Drowning Instinct is a novel of pain, deception, desperation, and love against the odds—and the rules.
‘I'm a liar. I am lucky, a liar, a good girl, a princess, a thief—and a killer.’ With this we are introduced to Jenna Lord. Unreliable characters have the effect of making the reader second guess everything they tell you. When a story is told from their perspective it can result in a wonderfully complex and illuminating read. Jenna Lord is exactly this kind of character.

Jenna’s life has quickly dissolved since her brother was shipped off for duty in Afghanistan. She is, in every way, falling a part. She’s a cutter, has a rough relationship with her parents, especially her father.

Mitch Anderson is charming. He’s also broken in his own way. The moment he enters the story you can see where his relationship with Jenna is going to lead. As they grow closer you can see the potential web that each of them is weaving but it is never clear which one is ensnaring the other.

The novel is written in the format of Jenna talking into a tape recorder for a police officer named Bob. This allows for very short chapters, and made for a quick read as a result. This also means that only Jenna’s perspective is given. We are not aware of what is going on with characters when not directly interacting with Jenna. This is true for a lot of novels, but this one felt even more limited. This style compliments the tone and overall intrigue of the novel wonderfully.

My only real issue is with the parents. I understand that Jenna believes they do not love her, but Jenna also told us she’s a liar. It seemed strange that her mother, who searched her body for new scars, would leave her alone for a week.

The ending will make you go back and re-examine what you previously read. Our narrator is, by her own admission, a liar. It is not a clear cut ending and not all the answers are provided. This could infuriate some, but I found it realistic. Nothing is ever black and white, and we don’t always have all the answers for why things happen.  Many questions go unanswered, the biggest one being exactly how much of Jenna’s story is true.

Filled with twists, reveals, and a stunning ending this novel will leave you wondering who, if anyone, is the victim. It may not be a novel for everyone, but those do read it will find much to dissect, examine and discuss after finishing the last chapter.


  1. I've seen this in stores but never actually picked it up to look at what it was about. This really sounds intriguing to me. I like the idea that this story really leaves you wondering about things because the main character admits to being a liar. Great review, definitely a book I want to check out now!

  2. I really really want to read this one, as soon as I saw the cover of the book on a bookmark I picked it up and read the synopsis. It's not usually my type of read but it just sounded so intriguing. I actually wrote a post yesterday explaining why I want to read it. I am happy to hear this is a thought provoking read, now I just need to get it xD.

    Scribing Shadows

  3. I'm REALLY intrigued by Jenna. Unreliable narrators can make for some frustrating, yet compelling reading. I love these kind of stories that make you THINK and mull over everything you read... definitely want to give this a go now, after reading your amazing review! It sounds SO good!

  4. Thanks again to this blog, I borrowed this from the library and read it in a day. A revelation about Jenna's brother Matt near the middle made me cry. And I don't really cry with books. PS: I thought Matt was sent to Iraq while Mr. Anderson's "brother" was sent to Afghanistan? Oh well, no biggie :) . Oh, and Mr. Anderson leaves a seriously bad taste in my mouth but I understand why Jenna would be drawn to him. Jenna's Mom is a real piece of work. And OMG Jenna's so-called Dad and his partner that's supposed to be her grandfather.... if I had the unprofessionalism to swear up a storm right now...

    As the author is a child psychologist (along with being in the air force at one time amoung other things, busy lady!) she really highlights how childhood abuse/trauma/pain etc. that goes unresolved (can it ever be resolved?) can take you down in the ugliest of ways. Not only that, but it can also take others along for the bumpy ride. While I always took child trauma and abuse seriously, this book just brings me closer to just how damaging these issues can be over a lifetime. No deserves that kind of pain/abuse! I also liked that, from the outside, the parents seemed well-to-do and not the cliche low income broken family. These issues exist in ALL classes. Great review.

    Amy :D <3


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