The Victim

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 16 Aug 2019

Member Reviews

A good story but a little all over the place and a little difficult to read. I love max manning’s books and I did enjoy this over all x
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3-4 stars.  A decent, enthralling read, but also very hard to keep up with, and it took me many attempts to read before I finally finished it.  I think that the story itself could’ve been so much more, and while I liked hearing from multiple POV I also felt it took from this particular book.  I think that there were many thrilling, shocking, disturbing, and chilling things that occurred but also some things were very lacking.  I would say most could read it and enjoy it, but I think with a bit more of shocks this book would’ve been a 5 plus star read.  
Will tell Chapter Chatter Pub about its upcoming release.
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This was an anticipated read for me and unfortunately I was left wanting more and found this novel lacking quite a lot. Mainly focus and smooth transitions were missing. The book is easy enough to follow, but it’s not smooth and seamless which makes the pace of the read slow and drag. Too many periphery characters and info are passed along that add nothing to the story, but rather only distract the focus away from Gem and the paths and outcomes. The concept is great but the thing most needed—a way to actully deliver the story from both perspectives isn’t here and this book was just ok.
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***3.5-4 Stars ***
Publication Date: August 6th, 2019

Gem is a victim of a carjacking one night by a psychopath Norton, while she stops for some painkillers on the way home from work with a headache. What I found particularly unique about this read and I really enjoyed is the story is told in parallel universes alternating with Gem as a victim of the crime and Gem as a person who fought back during the crime. I didn't find this confusing, I was intrigued. Very fast paced read. The ending fell a little flat for me especially because I called part of it from the beginning but overall a solid 4 star read. 

Special Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for allowing me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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What a wonderful concept.  I've always wondered what would happen to a character if they made one change in their story...Max Manning gives us a dual reality story.  Both paths will lead to some thrilling action, the reader gets to choose which they like the best.  Great fun!
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Fascinating Psychological Thriller

Gem Golding, a public relations executive, stops to pick up some items from an isolated convenience store on her way home from work late at night. The parking lot is practically empty and poorly lighted. As she returns to her car she is confronted by a carjacker carrying a knife. He demands her keys. Gem faces two choices, labelled as Fight or Surrender. The structure of the novel develops the two scenarios and what happens under each in alternating chapters. There is some confusion in following the story with this parallel structure because we are really reading two stories in short chunks and you could lose sight of what happened in each. Nonetheless I found this approach intriguing. In the Fight Scenario Gem rushes her attacker, makes it to her car and uses the car as a weapon when he tries to block her. She ends up running over his leg, injuring his leg and leaving the scene in haste. In the Surrender scenario Gem ends up on the ground and watches him flee in her car. In this scenario she ends up feeling weak and powerless.

Gem's husband Drew Bennett is initially sympathetic in both scenarios but a darker side of his nature ii revealed as the plot unfolds. The Police Detective, Elliot Day, and his assistant are portrayed as helpful in both but their attitudes toward the victim differ in the Fight and Surrender scenarios. The villain Norton ends up pursuing Gem under both outcomes, obsessed with the idea that they belong together.

There are many twists and turns and a few red herrings along the way. As both versions make their way toward the conclusion the author springs some major surprises which enrich our enjoyment of the novel.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an advance review copy. I highly recommend it.
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Imagine someone’s holding a knife to your throat and you have to choose fight or surrender. Whatever you choose will determine if you survive or die. Which do you choose? In Max Manning’s novel of Gem Golding being held at knifepoint , he plays out both options. After first being introduced to The Victim, Gem, you are then thrust into a bi-lateral plot. You are given each scenario, Gem who fought and Gem who surrendered, and the plots that unfurl from both. It is written with each chapter going back and forth. It was a little confusing the keep straight the details and what was happening in each plot. The characters are also the same in each scenario but different things happen to them. It was a little tricky to figure out what was happening in each scenario. If I could reread to book or give you any tips it would be to keep notes so you know what’s happening in each. I enjoyed Gem from both angles. I can not recommend this book enough. It was like a Criminal Minds episode in two parts. Very well written with well developed characters! It was a unique story that I never thought I would get the chance to read. But thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, I received a free copy to read for an unbiased review.
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First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Max Manning, and Sourcebooks Landmark for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Max Manning develops an interesting approach to this story, using the narrative to tell two stories with loose parallels. This approach will work for some but leave other writers scratching their heads. Perhaps this was the intended end result, though I leave that to the individual reviewer. Gem Golding decides to stop in at the local store for someone on her way home from work. Little does she know, but her life is about to change quite dramatically. While in the parking lot, she is approached by a man who pulls out a knife and attacks her. It is here that Manning offers his literary fork in the road. In one version, Gem bows down to the man and allows him to take her car, injuring her in the struggle. Thereafter, she must live with the pain of being victimised and she becomes part of the headlines as the search for the attacker heats up. Personal loss follows and she is left waiting for the police to catch the man who turned her life upside down. In the alternative reaction, Gem refuses to stand down and eventually maims her attacker, receiving praise in all media outlets and helping the police as much as possible as they hunt down the attacker. As each story progresses, the reader learns more about the story from a variety of angles: Gem, her boyfriend, the attacker, the police, and even a journalist. All this comes together in a heart stopping culmination, where the reader can decide which of the two Gems they choose to be the true protagonist of the story. An interesting approach that will keep the reader thinking until the final page flip and shape the story throughout. Recommended to those who enjoy something a little different with their reading experience, particularly the reader who enjoys parallel narratives. 

I have never read Max Manning before this novel, though this was surely an interesting introduction. The premise of this novel permits the reader to feel as though they are reading two stories in one, weaving the plots together and interchanging characters at will. Gem Golding is hard to gauge, particularly because it really depends which of the two you pick as your ‘true protagonist’. She can either be a weak and vulnerable woman who has to deal with having been attacked and then facing personal tragedy that only compounds the event, or she is a strong woman who overcame adversity and is lauded in the media as a hero for stopping what could have been a violent attack. Manning offers both these women up but does not seem to lean in either direction. There is a great supporting cast who works effectively to promote either Gem—interesting that both versions of the story use the same supports—and are helped along by an effective narrative. While some are surely more endearing than others, Manning creates a wonderful character base throughout. The story, while unique, is also well written and allows the reader to move between the two parallels with ease, hoping to find a happy home with a different set of readers. Short chapters push the story forward and keeps the reader wanting to complete the reading task in short order.  I’ll definitely try some more Manning in the future, particularly if he uses this same technique in other novels.

Kudos, Mr. Manning, for this curious approach to a thriller. I am intrigued and I hope others find this style as enticing as I did.
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Max Manning took a huge artistic risk with this book. The dual-plot/timeline concept is fascinating, both from a story perspective and a psychological one. It’s also hard to pull off. I’m not certain the end result here was entirely successful. But I commend Manning for being willing to take that risk.

Whether or not you think the two parallel stories “work” is probably personal. It might also help to read a print version, as flipping back and forth on my phone Kindle app wasn’t ideal. I took notes, highlighted in either pink (for the Surrender chapters) or yellow (for the Fight chapters), which helped a bit. Even so, I became confused by what had happened and when for each section.

There were multiple times when I thought some action had already occurred (for example, Gem’s conversation with her boss about returning to work) and wondered why the characters acted as though it hadn’t. Then I realized that, yes, that action had occurred–in the other scenario.

Two things contributed to my confusion:
1.  Multiple point of view characters
We got the viewpoints of Gem (the victim), Norton (her attacker), Elliot Day (the police investigator), Drew Bentley (Gem’s boyfriend), and Matt Revell (a tabloid journalist exploiting the story). Their individual sections are labelled with their names. Even so, it’s confusing to switch both scenario and point of view between chapters.

For example, one chapter came from Gem’s point of view in her victim/surrender scenario, and the next chapter came from Day’s point of view, but in the Gem-the-Warrior scenario. I had to flip back to the chapter before last to remember what just happened and what Day and his sergeant are discussing.

2.  Short chapters
Not all the chapters were extremely short, but some were. This fed into the issue I described. Personally, I would have preferred longer sections from each scenario.

On the positive side . . .
There were definitely intriguing moments. The idea of the two outcomes running parallel to each other gives the opportunity for different reactions to the same plot point.

For example, in Gem’s conversation with Melanie, her boss, there are two scenarios. (No spoilers.) In one, Gem wants to return to work and Melanie is reluctant to allow this. In the other, Gem dreads returning to work and Melanie is angry. Why? Each Gem (Warrior and Victim) reacted differently to the attack. As a result, the two Gems have different attitudes toward her (their?) work and the two Melanies react based on their attitudes toward that Gem’s response.

Let’s face it: we tend to cheer for people who fight their attacker. (But only if they win. And by “win,” we mean “stay alive.”) People tend to judge those who “freeze” and seem to acquiesce to their attacker. Even though studies have shown that it’s very, very common to freeze rather than fight or flee, people still judge. They shouldn’t. As one character points out, no one should be shamed for an action based on instinct.

Manning’s insightful as he explores this dynamic. Gem feels others judge her based on her actions during the carjacking. And guess what? She’s right. One of the positive aspects of the multiple viewpoints is that we see how various people interpret her actions. The police investigators try not to judge–but do. The reporter is only interested in her when she’s the aggressive warrior, not the passive victim. (It makes for a better story, right?) The attacker interprets her actions in his own delusional, twisted way. (And it’s very twisted!)

What makes it worse for her is that there is not ONE right choice. There’s a lot of contradictory advice on how to respond during an attack. What’s a good choice in one situation may not be a good choice in another. What should someone do if he/she’s attacked? It depends. Manning explores this, too, with great effect.

These insights into the psychology of the attack and response are the highlight of the book. While the plot is suspenseful, I think it’s a mistake to try to read The Victim as a straight-forward suspense/thriller novel. It’s not. It’s an exploration of what it means to be a survivor and how one choice can change our lives. 

For those who are interested in the book, I recommend reading it twice: once straight through, and a second time, reading all the “Fight” sections and then all the “Surrender” sections. Or try reading in this order: the Fight sections, the Surrender sections, and the entire novel cover to cover.

Many thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Note: Review on my blog will go live on 7/29/19.
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There was just something about the cover and its contrast that caught my eye when I first saw it, and as soon as I read the blurb I was sold. There is no doubt that the premise of The Victim is simply fascinating; a story where we follow two alternative storylines based on the decision of the main character Gem to fight or surrender during an attack in the first chapters. This is without doubt an unique concept and one that will also make you wonder what you would do yourself in a similar situation... And you will soon realize that there is a reason you won't find solid advice on the matter, as there seems to be no clear correct answer as to what you should do as every perp and situation is unique. It was very interesting to see the consequences of both choices for Gem, not only the direct consequences but also how her life was changed afterwards.

Like I said, this concept of having two alternative storylines, one where Gem surrendered and one where Gem decided to fight, definitely makes for an unique read. I do have to say that things can get quite confusing as we not only have to keep apart two different versions of Gem's story, but also what happens to other characters after her decision to fight or surrender. While at all times it is specified which storyline you are currently reading, it is kind of hard to keep track of which event belongs to what storyline and all that information might be a little too much to juggle at one time. I myself definitely wish I would have thought to take notes when I started reading, because it would have been easier to keep both versions apart that way. As you can imagine, this confusion and difficulty to separate and follow both alternative storylines did take away some of the reading pleasure for me. I can't say I wasn't a fan of the main characters either, and Gem started to frustrate me after a while... I did think that the suspect was an interesting character and I enjoyed finding out more about his past and motive. Did I think certain aspects of the plot and especially the ending were not all that credible? Yes. Did I end up having mixed thoughts about The Victim? Also yes. But I can't deny it's a very original concept and fans of the thriller genre will most likely find themselves intrigued.
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Thanks to NetGalley for a Kindle ARC of The Victim.

On the one hand, this concept sounds interesting, a Sliding Doors twist on the crime genre.

But its extremely difficult to pull off and the way the story is structured made it a confusing read for me.

PR professional Gem Golding is attacked by a thug in a parking lot when she stops at a convenience store to buy aspirin for her headache.

The narrative suddenly splits into two multi-verse arcs; one where Gem submits to her attacker and another where she fights back.

These two separate storylines happen simultaneously and readers are pulled along on both tangents, following Gem's recovering from the ordeal and the two detectives tasked to the investigation.

The thing is, the narratives are culled together with subheadings having to remind readers what multiverse we are in.

A better idea would have to split both arcs into two separate parts entirely, not group them together.

The next problem was how much I disliked Gem. There was something so whiny and doormat-y about her.

It didn't help that I had no idea why she and her douchebag boyfriend, Drew, were together in the first place. 

I saw no common interests between them nor was there any exposition as to why or how they hooked up. And if there was, I must have missed it in the varying timelines.

Next, the author must love PR or worked in PR or owed a bet to someone because he states nearly a half dozen times Gem's cool job in PR and how she has struggled to rise to top in her industry; how vital and important she is in her firm because she is an executive and how proud her single mother is that her only child works in the glamorous world of PR.

Okay, we get it. Gem loves her job. Too bad she's unlikable.

Then, the bad guy, Norton. Is he just a basic thug or is he a delusional nutter? Or both? 

Which works if we had exposition about his disposition earlier but his sudden fixation on Gem as the future love of his life seems out of left field.

I would have understood his fixation if he was just angry that she had escaped his clutches in the 'fight' arc and he payback but to add sexual violence and obsession to the mix was phony and unnecessary.

There were a couple of twists, all of which I saw coming, but only because I read so many of these types of books so that's not the author's fault. 

This was an okay read but I didn't like any of the characters.
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Well this was a shame. I was looking forward to this one because having an author follow the two possible paths a potential car jacking victim could go sounded so intriguing. Too bad that Manning didn't just focus on the main protagonist and added in POVs from so many people. Also I got so confused after a while if I was following Gem as survivor or Gem as warrior.

"The Victim" follows Gem Golding. Gem stops on her way home to get some painkillers and is accosted by a carjacker. Gem reels wondering if she should fight back or should she just acquiesce with the carjacker's demands. We get at the decision point and from there Manning follows Gem's life if she given in or if she had fought back. 

At first I really liked the book. I liked Gem and understood why she was so focused on not being seen as a victim (in either timeline) and getting back to her job. I wish that Manning had stayed more focused on her since the whole point of the book was Gem and how her life was impacted. Manning then shows the different timelines for the same people (her boyfriend, the carjacker, the detectives, the reporter, and others) who follow if Gem was a victim or a survivor. 

There was way too much going on and I had to keep going back and forth in my Kindle to make sure I was reading it correctly if Gem was a victim or survivor. After a while I just gave up and started to feel frustrated because it was hard to follow what was going on. Manning should have stripped out the other characters. We focused way too much on the carjacker who apparently went to how to be a serial killer school. 

The writing was okay, but I think the scattered shot approach to everyone didn't work real well. I was disappointed in the conclusion of one of the story-lines (Gem as a survivor) and think that Manning should have followed up with an epilogue on both of those story-lines. However, I don't think it mattered to him much, since as I said, Gem wasn't really the focus as she should have been. 

The flow was up and down throughout. Following so many people and different story-lines depending on which version of Gem we were with in the book was just confusing and definitely impacted what was going on. It didn't help that we had subplots going on with the detectives and carjacker and reporter as well. The boyfriend POVs don't really count considering how short they were. 

The ending was a meh to one story-line with Gem and a "I guess" to the other one following her.
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Buttefly effect crossed with sliding doors tihis is certainly a book that will promote discussion in a book club! 
Although a slightly juveinile writing style that kept me one step removed from the victom the story is compelling and you find yourself reading "one more chapter" to see what will happen.

Fight or Flight - something we have all considered in the "what if it happened to me" scenario. I am sure we have all thought about how we would react so it is interesting to see how the narrator portrays both options.

The main character, Gem , is carjacked.. What happens after the carjacking is determined by how she responds to the attack. Athrilling read and one I highly recommend for anyone who loves a "what if" story!

I would like to thank NetGalley for advanced copy received in exchange for a candid review - look out for the book on 6 August!
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I was reading this book for inclusion in our subscription box and was quite excited about it until the last few pages, which, without spoiling the book, absolutely ruined it for me. It's too bad because otherwise it was a good, interestingly told book. The different points of view were interesting.
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With two timelines and several different point of views, this story packs a punch. Each chapter is clearly titled with each timeline and the point of view to keep things relatively straight forward.

Gem is a character with lots of 'what ifs' in both timelines, wondering if she did the right thing. Tragedy strikes in both timelines and the truth is, no one action is always right. 

Plus: Fast moving, absorbing, and suspenseful. 

Minus: Ending/s moved a little fast. The main character, Gem, is not nearly as fleshed out and developed as other characters. We know more about the predator Norton, and even detective Day than we know about Gem....where she comes from...why she makes the choices she does. 

Overall, a decent read with an interesting premise.
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I really fell into this book. We're given 2 versions of the story, alternating each chapter between Fight and Surrender. Ultimately, however, it seems it really doesn't matter what choice is made (so if you're looking for advice, look elsewhere). 

The two different versions of the same story can be frustrating at times. I don't normally make notes for myself while reading, but with this book you almost have to. Some of the events that happen in each timeline are so similar or happen in slightly different ways, which is challenging to keep track of when the timeline switches with each chapter. Though, one thing I did enjoy about this structure, is the timing of certain events happening either in tandem or juxtaposed between the timelines. 

Both versions of this story could stand on their own as separate novels, though I (surprisingly) found myself preferring the Surrender chapters more.

All in all, a fun thriller with a few twists I saw coming and some turns that I didn't!
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A fresh, innovative, thought-provoking psycho-thriller with intensity, grit and edge. A riveting and artful study in the consequences of choice. This one is not to be missed!

#TheVictim #WhatWouldYouDo #ConsequencesOfChoice #MaxManning #NetGalley
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I come to really enjoy books from Max Manning and get excited when I get approved to read them and give them an honest review...

And this book was great I managed to get through this book in almost record-breaking time, Its a such a good twist of the story reminded me of the film sliding doors.
On a few occasions, I had to backtrack as I forgot who I was reading about the victim or the fighter ... but that's more my fault not stopping on chapters ... 

It was really interesting to read about both sides of the story and how each life almost plays out in similar ways with a few twists but I won't say no more its one of those books you must read yourself especially if you are a fan of previous boos from the same author or love a new spin on a good thriller.
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“Victims of crime react in one of three ways. Fight. Flight. Or Freeze. All are instinctive and the freeze response is the most primitive. Nobody should feel shame or be blamed for an instinctive response they have no control over.” 

Gem is carjacked.  

What happens after the carjacking is determined by how she responds to the attack. 

In the even numbered chapters, Gem is the victim.   SURRENDER

In the odd numbered chapters, an alternate version of events is told, where Gem fights off her attacker.  FIGHT 

But, if you surrender, must you remain a victim? And, if you fight, does that mean that you won’t feel like a victim after the attack?  And, what if a coin toss decides your fate, whether or not you resist or submit? 

A  “sliding doors” story with lots of thought provoking questions that would probably be a great book for book clubs to read and discuss. 

 But, I had to reread several chapters because some events in the “Surrender” chapters felt like victories, and some events in the “Fight” chapters felt like defeats which made things a bit confusing. 

Despite the violent crimes being committed, I think the format kept me emotionally disconnected from the victim. 

I would like to thank NetGalley, Sourcebooks Landmark and Max Manning for the digital ARC received in exchange for a candid review. If the premise seems intriguing to you, look for this title on Aug. 6, 2019!
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I loved this story. The Victim is a sort of speculative fiction story. It's narrated in divergent story lines based on a choice one woman makes. The main character is the victim of a carjacking one night. The choice is fight back or go along with the carjacking? The results of each choice are played out. I find it fascinating to consider how one little thing can change the course of a life. This reminds me of the butterfly effect where one thing causes ripples effects that are far reaching into other people's lives. The story is well written and complex. You really have to pay attention so as not to get confused with the dual perspectives. I highly recommend for anyone who enjoy a unique and engrossing story. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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