This article was originally published in print in Transitions magazine…
It is very fitting as I sit here in December and pen the last book review of 2011 that I review one of the most amazing books I’ve read all year. I suppose you’re actually reading this in early 2012, but that is the beauty of editorial lead times and time-space portals. As I write this I’m actually in a jury room right now serving my time in the interest of civic duty. Don’t worry though, there’s no trial going on right now, just lots of downtime.
The book I’d like to mention is actually the second book in a series. It’s The Innocent by Taylor Stevens, the second book in the Vanessa Michael Munroe saga. The first novel and Ms Stevens’ debut was The Informationist, which I reviewed earlier this year. The Informationist was a non-stop action tome, but The Innocent changes up the pace a little with a slight departure from that formula. It’s for good reason though, as the subject of this book drives dangerously close to the author’s own life story, and it works marvelously.
To quote the press release, readers were “fascinated by the author’s own utterly compelling history: her childhood and young adult years spent in the Children of God cult…While Stevens stresses that The Innocent is fiction, as are the characters that populate the story , she has drawn upon her own experiences growing up within the Children of God. According to Stevens, though not specifically the story of her life, The Innocent is “the closest she’ll ever come to writing an autobiography.”
This book provides a most engaging and energizing tale for several reasons. After reading the first novel, I was interesting in knowing more about Stevens and the main character Munroe. In The Innocent I get both. I was also intrigued with the social justice storyline in this book because of my own efforts launching The Pilgrimage church focused on just that. There’s a particular scene that Munroe handles in a manner that many of us would like to replicate when confronted with the sexual abuse of children. I’ll just say that she had to dispose of a couple of bodies and let you read it.
The Innocent proves that Ms Stevens is not just a one book author and that Vanessa Michael Munroe has no shortage of justice to mete out. I’d like to compare her to Jason Bourne or Jack Bauer, but now that I’ve finally seen Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I realize that she makes a much better comparison. She’s an extremely strong, albeit damaged, heroine with inner demons that sometimes need to be quieted by getting her hands dirty. Just don’t get in her way, and you’ll be alright.