Friday, September 15, 2017

Review: 99 Red Balloons

99 Red BalloonsAuthor: Elisabeth Carpenter
Series: Standalone
Released: August 24th 2017
Publisher: Avon
Length: 352 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

Two girls go missing, decades apart. What would you do if one was your daughter?
When eight-year-old Grace goes missing from a sweetshop on the way home from school, her mother Emma is plunged into a nightmare. Her family rallies around, but as the police hunt begins, cracks begin to emerge.
What are the secret emails sent between Emma’s husband and her sister? Why does her mother take so long to join the search? And is Emma really as innocent as she seems?
Meanwhile, ageing widow Maggie Taylor sees Grace’s picture in the newspaper. It’s a photograph that jolts her from the pain of her existence into a spiralling obsession with another girl – the first girl who disappeared…

Mysteries and thrillers have been my drug of choice for a while now which made 99 Red Balloons seem like a dream come true the second I noticed it on Edelweiss. It had everything I tend to go for these days: a seemingly baffling mystery, a huge emotional challenge, and engaging characters. I’ll freely admit to being a little skittish when it comes to stories about kidnapped children, but I managed to overcome even that in the hopes of finding a book I’ll truly enjoy.

99 Red Balloons is told from multiple perspectives. I had a challenging time connecting with some of them, but I thought Maggie’s voice was done just right. She is an old woman whose granddaughter was kidnapped years ago and whose daughter committed suicide. To her, the abduction of Grace, daughter of complete strangers, brings back old traumas and she can’t help but notice similarities with her granddaughter’s kidnapping. We also get glimpses of Grace herself, which was a very smart decision by the author. One imagines all kinds of horrors when a child is abducted, but seeing Grace from time to time helped remove at least some of those fears.

The story is well constructed, albeit a tiny bit predictable. The very fact that some of the points of view were included was revealing, but there were enough unanswered questions to keep me turning those pages until the very end. It was hard to separate voices at times, and more attention should have been given to characterization, but those who enjoy purely plot-driven books will find plenty to love about 99 Red Balloons.

I’ll be honest and maybe a little blunt: 99 Red Balloons just wasn’t my cup of tea. I can see the appeal and I even agree with some positive reviews I’ve stumbled upon, but when it comes to connecting emotionally, this story and I just didn’t click.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.

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