(Image from Barnes & Noble)
When Alison Kraft's 9-year-old son chooses a fishing expedition for his special birthday trip, she's less than thrilled. The third grade teacher would prefer almost anything to hanging out in a rustic lodge on a remote island in the middle of Lake Superior. Knowing how important the trip is to Jimmy, Alison decides to take one for the team. When she sees just how primitive the accommodations really are, Alison's ready to bolt. Even if she wanted to leave, though, she couldn't. The last boat off the island has gone and a storm is already setting in. Like it or not, Alison's there to stay.
Meanwhile, a quartet of violent criminals is stranded on the choppy water in a malfunctioning boat. When they spot the fishing lodge, they see a place to wait out the storm and maybe find themselves a new mode of transportation. The fact that the lodge is filled with fishermen/women is of no real consequence—collateral damage can't always be avoided.
Seasick and miserable, Alison's locked in the bathroom when the criminals storm the lodge. With everyone else tied up, it's up to her to stop the ex cons from killing everyone in sight. But how is a school teacher with no survival skills supposed to do that on a remote island in the middle of a storm? And, even if she can defeat them, will she ever be rid of them? Or the terrible memories from a family fishing trip turned deadly?
The weird thing about Primal, a debut thriller by D.A. (Deborah) Serra, is that the story ends almost before it begins. While it's fairly riveting while it's happening, all the big, life/death action happens in the first third of the book. By about Chapter Seventeen, I figured Primal must be a novella because the story was basically over. I was wrong. It is, in fact, a full-length novel. However, since the story reaches its climax around Page 100, the last 160 pages of the book get very dull and very predictable. Some plot rearrangement would have made this a much better novel because, really, it has pretty good bones. A good editor could have reworked the whole thing into a decent thriller. As is? Meh. The first 100 pages kept me entertained, but the rest just seemed to drag on and on and on. Serra needed to build the story up better, make me care more about the characters, move the climax to the end of the book, and then keep the intensity up throughout the entire story because that is how you craft a can't-put-it-down thriller.
(Readalikes: Hm, I can't think of anything. Can you?)
If this were a movie, it would be rated: R for language, violence and sexual innuendo
To the FTC, with love: I received an e-copy of Primal from the author via the good folks at Premiere Virtual Author Book Tours. Thank you!