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Lost Souls (thoughts)

May 29, 2008

Lost Souls by Lisa JacksonOnce upon a time, long before I even knew what a book blog was, back when I was navigating those tricky high school waters, I became a big fan of thrillers. I had just gotten really sick, with Gods knows what (of course, now we all know it was fibro), and on top of that I was having migraines that lasted days on end. Suddenly, I found myself often too sensitive to light to read! So, what’s a girl to do? This is when I discovered audiobooks, and in my branch library, pretty much all of the audiobooks were thrillers. So I got into Patricia Cornwell, I tried out a few of John Sanford’s Prey series, and lots of random ones that were on the shelves. I was fearless too, when my family went out of town for Memorial Day and I was home by myself for three days (without a driver’s license, so I didn’t have too much mobility anyway), I listened to a Cornwell book on CD, watched Hannibal (since my mom wouldn’t let it enter the house when she was home, lol), and caught a “Body of Evidence” marathon on CourtTV.

But then towards the end of my senior year, I did a big English project on “The Evolution of the British Mystery Novel,” and I began to change. The thrillers all seemed a bit too, well, delighting in violence and evil; I stopped watching true-life crime stories, because it was just too voyeuristic, and I retreated into the happy world of murder mysteries that focus on unravelling the clues, not catching deranged serial killers.

That being said, I still have a soft spot for my old buddies, that got me through so many sick hours, and lately my interest in the horror genre has been growing. So when I heard about Lisa Jackson’s new book, Lost Souls, even though I’d never heard of the author before (it turns out she has a blog, website, and is really prolific), I couldn’t resist. Why? Well, the protagonist is Kristi, a twenty-eight-year-old daughter of a cop, who wants to be an investigative nonfiction writer. So when she hears about the odd disappearance of four girls in less than two years at a small, Catholic university called All Saints College, which just happens to be the college she used to attend (she never graduated), she decides to renroll, finish up her degree, and hopefully find enough material for a book in the process. Did I mention the school is in Baton Rouge? And that the most popular class in the school is called “The Influence of Vampirism in Modern Culture and Literature”?

Obviously, I had to get this one. Louisiana! A small, isolated college! Catholicism! the English department! Weird college kids who pretend they’re vampires! (My college had them too; in fact, the administration was so accomaditing that students from other colleges would come for big gatherings. But I digress.)

As I was going along, I realised that I was enjoying the book even more than I expected. Yes, it’s a thriller, but it’s a well-written thriller. Kristi goes to her college classes, and whole lectures by her professors are in the book. It turns out that Kristi’s old high school flame is now teaching a class she signed up for (this is much less of a coincidence than it sounds here), and he’s adorable. That whole dynamic was handled wonderfully, and it was fun to watch them circle around one another! Jackson slowly ups the creepiness factor, by including passages from the eyes of the killer, and just making Kristi feel more and more vulnerable. Something’s obviously wrong, but Kristi’s sense of curiousity is stronger than her sense for self-preservation (a pretty common trait in thriller protagonists). But it’s not just curiousity: the girls who disappeared were all from “the wrong side of the tracks,” and the authorities had barely even looked into the situation, just labelling them runaway. This ignites Kristi’s sense of justice, which I agree with; it should be the government’s job to protect society’s most vulnerable, not dismiss them. I really enjoyed, and identified with, Kristi: Jackson captures her mindset, as a twentysomething woman determined to work towards her dream profession, but at the same time still pretty young, perfectly. I also thought the various supporting characters, mainly college students and professors, were well-drawn; most of them I wouldn’t be too shocked to run into at my old campus (well, except that the new English professors are all young-ish and hot, but in the book that’s portrayed as strange too).

Unfortunately, the ending felt rushed. Yes, there are reasons why the action suddenly speeds up, but after the rest of plot was slow build-up, I felt disoriented. It was only about fifty pages of the four hundred page book, and I think Jackson could have handled it better. For me, this dropped it from a four star experience to a three star one. Also, I don’t want to mislead you into thinking this is at all ‘literary.’ It is well written, but Jackson obviously has a completely different purpose from authors like, say A.S. Byatt and Ian McEwan. I happen to love both ‘highbrow’ and ‘lowbrow’ books, as I think most people do, but if you don’t enjoy popular books, you’ll want to avoid this one. Also, there are a few bloody scenes involved-after all, the killer’s obsessed with vampires-but I don’t think it’s any worse than your standard thriller fare. So, if most thrillers are too violent for you, this one will be too.

Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a fun but thoughful thriller, that mixes college-stuff with vampire-stuff with a little bit of romance (there’s a sex scene or two, but they’re not overly long), you should definitely look into this one! I think it’d be perfect for that stereotypical ‘summer reading’ or ‘beach book’: Lost Souls has love, action, and intellect.

Do you enjoy ‘beach reading’? Which genre do you turn to?

The fine print: I received a review copy of this from Pump Up Your Book Promotion. This in no way affected my review. However, if you do decide to buy this book before the end of the month (in this case, that’s not much time), they offer a Readers Reward Program, wherein you can get an autographed bookmark and other freebies from the author buy sending in a copy of your receipt.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. May 29, 2008 1:13 pm

    I haven’t tried audiob books yet but I have heard so many good things about the that I must try it. For someone in a can’t-read predicament like you, it is the perfect choice.
    I do like beach reading but genres change depending on my mood. Paranormal, chick lit, mystery, it’s all good!

  2. May 29, 2008 4:16 pm

    I’m not usually one for mysteries, thrillers, anything like that, but this book sounds fantastic!! Like something I could really get into. Thanks for another thoughtful review.

  3. May 29, 2008 9:44 pm

    Does sound like a good read. Did you vote for mystery on my “what do you read when sick” poll?

    There was an interesting article about Joan Brady, sorry I cannot provide a link as it was a few months ago. She is an American author who wrote one of my all time favorites “Theory of War” which is very high quality literature. She lives in England now and has been very ill for some time. So she has been writing mysteries because she does not have the physical energy to write anything else.

    This really struck me. Mysteries and thrillers are easier to read. I think I can say that without offending anyone, I mean no offense. But whoever thought they would be easier to write as well?

    Unfortunately, I cannot read on the beach because the light is too bright for me even with dark glasses.

  4. May 29, 2008 9:47 pm

    Found the link.

    http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/generalfiction/story/0,,2248542,00.html

    If you haven’t read Theory of War, I highly recommend it.

  5. May 29, 2008 10:23 pm

    Jaimie, yep-I don’t know what I’d do without audiobooks: they cure my insomnia better than any sleeping pill, and when I’m having a flare-up, they keep my mind off it. But even when I’m healthy, I listen to them when I’m getting ready in the morning and when I’m cooking or cleaning. I’m mildly addicted! lol

    Andi, I hope you enjoy it. :)

    C.B., yep-I did vote for mysteries in your poll. I also picked classics, mainly due to Jane Austen. I’ll definitely look into Theory of War, and I’m off to read that article (thanks for the link). It is interesting that mysteries and thrillers are easier to write! And I certainly didn’t take any offense over the fact that they’re easier to read, and I’m not sure how people could, lol. Too bad you can’t read at the beach! I don’t have a beach to read on, but on gorgeous days I set up a lounge chair in my backyard and pretend it’s a beach. I also slather on the sunscreen and wear a hat and protective stuff!

  6. May 30, 2008 6:02 am

    Well, I’m not ashamed to admit that I still love thrillers (and true crime for that matter), but I’ve never read anything by Lisa Jackson. Sounds like I need to remedy that…and that this is the perfect book to start with! Thanks yet again, Eva!

  7. May 30, 2008 6:52 am

    Eva, thank you for this review!

  8. May 30, 2008 3:14 pm

    I think the thing I liked the most about this book was the idea that the whole English Department was in on the vampire/secret society thing. Hilarious. English teachers get such a bad rap sometimes – but, honestly, didn’t you have some English professors/teachers you seriously wondered about??

  9. May 30, 2008 7:07 pm

    This sounds terrific. Must get a copy…

  10. May 30, 2008 10:52 pm

    Debi, I think I’m getting back into thrillers! Hoe you like it. :)

    Susan, I agree!! I can totally see my English professors starting a secret society! (In fact, at my college, they called it the literary magazine, lol)

    Emily, I hope you enjoy it. :)

Thank you for commenting! For a long while, my health precluded me replying to everyone. Yet I missed the conversation, so I'm now making an effort to reply again. It might take a few days though, and there will be times when I simply can't. Regardless, I always read and value what you say.

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