Publication Date: March 12, 2015
In What Doesn’t Kill Us by Nirina Stone, Lucy Reynolds left home at an early age to escape her abusive environment. Now off to the university, she’d like to fly under the radar and forget. Lucy gets caught up in a dangerous game when a secret society called The Seven starts to court her. When Lucy’s friend goes missing, she must fight or she’ll be next. Will she survive and come out stronger? What Doesn’t Kill Us is a fairy tale with a twist. What is beautiful is cruel. What should protect, betrays? Those that should help are weak and beaten down and not willing to take the risk to save the main character from inevitable scarring. She is given an absolute right to be angry so that whatever follows can be written off and excused because of Lucy’s victimization. In a better-rounded character, the reader may buy anything that follows, but the characters are not believable and the scenes read like Disney villains persecuting the beautiful teenager who has yet to discover her worth. The problem with the characters being two dimensional is that What Doesn’t Kill Us is very much a character-focused piece.
Stone sends us into Lucy’s past and the transitions are somewhat smooth if the content lacks elegance. Each step seems intricately planned. Lucy is taken to the woods in a limo after a dance and while others prove their weakness to The Seven by running, Lucy proves her worthiness by standing strong. Is it strength or stupidity. I wondered, at first, if Lucy was suicidal and that’s why she’d stay and why she reacts in ways contrary to common sense but she’s very purposeful portrayed as a survivor, hence the title. Will she hang on to the bitter end? There’s a boyfriend that seems to matter so little that he could have been left out entirely. You know instinctive that this is not a person, who should be good at relationships because we’re told that all of hers are so disastrous, and because of that focus most connections read as false.
What Doesn’t Kill Us failed to catch me from the very start. There’s a teen-angst aspect to it that doesn’t demand fleshing out if the twists are big enough. While the twists were dramatic, they were expected but, for the most part, lacked originality. The main character is in college but still fairly young in the course of the novel and while she’s a mostly flat character, she does react in the way teens imagining themselves acting. She is savage as a result of a violent situation from which she excoriated herself at the age of 15. When the opportunity arises will she use it to exact vengeance on those that wronged her?
What Doesn’t Kill Us was not a good book. It was well written in the sense that the periods were where they were supposed to be but fell flat in plot and presentation. What Doesn’t Kill Us is a very quick read so if that’s all you require in your fiction, pick it up. Otherwise, you might want to give this one a miss.
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