Drowning Instinct

Book: Drowning Instinct by Ilsa Bick|Narrated by Kathleen Mcinerney

Published February 2012|Published by Brilliance Audio|Run time: 9 hours, 46 minutes

Audiobook, via audible.com

Genre: YA/Contemporary

Check it out at: Goodreads|Barnes And Noble|Amazon|Ilsa Bick’s Website

Goodreads.com Summary: There are stories where the girl gets her prince, and they live happily ever after. (This is not one of those stories.)

Jenna Lord’s first sixteen years were not exactly a fairytale. Her father is a controlling psycho and her mother is a drunk. She used to count on her older brother—until he shipped off to Afghanistan. And then, of course, there was the time she almost died in a fire. 

There are stories where the monster gets the girl, and we all shed tears for his innocent victim. (This is not one of those stories either.)

Mitch Anderson is many things: A dedicated teacher and coach. A caring husband. A man with a certain… magnetism. 

And there are stories where it’s hard to be sure who’s a prince and who’s a monster, who is a victim and who should live happily ever after. (These are the most interesting stories of all.)

Drowning Instinct is a novel of pain, deception, desperation, and love against the odds—and the rules.

Holy shit.

That describes how I feel after finishing Drowning Instinct.  I just…I don’t even know where to start with this.

There is so much going on in Drowning Instinct- there are so many issues that each one could be their own novel.  But Bick handles all of them well, and weaves them together so well.

Jenna is so damaged, and such an unreliable character.  But it works, and I like that she’s talking about her truth.  She really is an interesting character, as are all of the other characters, who are all fucked up in their own way.  Jenna was so easy to relate to.  A lot of the characters were, and I liked that I could relate to so many of them.  I even liked Mitch..even if I’m not sure we were supposed to.

This is definitely a dark story, with alcoholism, cutting, a student-teacher relationship (with the teacher being married) and other issues.  Even though my heart broke for Jenna at times, I couldn’t cry for her.  Things are definitely shades of grey in this book, and I like that Drowning Instinct is about those shades of grey, instead of looking at things in black and white.

We really have to talk about Drowning Instinct as an audiobook.  It was fantastic as an audiobook, because of the way the book is written.  We first meet Jenna in the emergency, where she is given a recorder by a detective.  She uses the recorder to tell her story- namely, what lead her to this time in the emergency room.  Mcinerney did a wonderful job with narrating, and she really captured the essence of Jenna.  Drowning Instinct works so well as an audiobook, so I’d highly recommend going for the audiobook version if at all possible.

Because Jenna’s telling her story into the recorder, we only get one side- which is Jenna’s, and one that is unreliable and biased.  But I think that’s the beauty of this novel.  It’s definitely dark and it’s definitely twisted, so by having Jenna’s perspective, you see that everything is not what it seems.

I liked going in and not knowing what was going to happen- the summary doesn’t give a lot away, which is nice.  I did figure out pretty early on that she’d end up with her teacher, but other than that, you didn’t know how it was going to turn out.  I wasn’t expecting the plot twist with her brother at all, although it is something I probably should have expected.  Mostly because…why would her parents have a problem with a girl talking to her brother just because he’s in the military?

The only problem I have with the book?  Jenna’s parents.  How is that her parents don’t want her to have a cell phone, be able to drive, or having locks on her doors, yet they have no problem leaving her at home, alone, for a week?  And Jenna calling her dad “psycho dad?”  More back story on that would have been nice.  All we see is a guy who likes to be in control, so knowing why she calls him psycho dad would have been helpful.

And the ending!  Jenna ends up erasing the entire recording, so the reader has no idea how things work out for any of the characters.  It just seems to fit with the novel.

Final thought: I loved Drowning Instinct!  It’s wonderfully narrated, works well as an audiobook, and is a twisted novel that was interesting to listen to.  There are so many interesting characters, and life is full of shades of grey.  I give it a 5 out of 5.

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2 thoughts on “Drowning Instinct

  1. Great review. I loved this book, but am still so confused. Why did Mitch lie about his family? Was he lying about Danielle to keep Jenna from leaving or was he being honest?

    • I wish I knew why he lied about Danielle- maybe so she wouldn’t tell the police? As for lying about his family, maybe he thought it didn’t matter or that she wouldn’t get involved with him if she knew. There are definitely some things that don’t make sense, and I think it’s because we only get Jenna’s version of what happened.

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