Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Chuckles Retro Reads: Survivor by JF Gonzalez

It was supposed to have been a romantic weekend getaway. Lisa was looking forward to spending time alone with her husband, and telling him that they were going to have a baby.

Instead, it became a nightmare when her husband was arrested and Lisa was kidnapped. But the kidnappers aren't asking for ransom. They want Lisa herself. They're going to make her a star . . . in a snuff film.

My Review:
First off I will warn you that this is a pretty shocking book. There is graphic rape, torture, murder and gore. There are sadistic characters who don't care what they are doing to other people as long as their needs are met. And our main character does something really shocking to try to save her own life. This is not for the faint hearted.

It is also a gripping, tension filled piece of fiction that had me glued to it from start to finish. I was really invested in the story, liking our heroes and wanting the bad guys to get what was coming to them. I found my mind was racing a bit like Lisa's was-how the hell do I get out of this situation alive?

Lisa and Brad are going on a romantic getaway, driving up the coast. Lisa is planning for the right moment to tell him that she is pregnant and everything seems great. Until a road rage incident occurs and the other driver phones the police to report Brad for dangerous driving, causing him to be arrested. As it is Friday, he is stuck in jail over the weekend, and the driver wastes no time in abducting Lisa from her motel room. Her horror is complete when she finds out that she has been kidnapped to order to appear in a snuff film.

Animal, the man who will be raping, torturing and murdering Lisa is a truly scary guy. He seems so normal until he starts talking about how he got into doing these films and that whole section is twisted and chilling. Lisa knows there is no way to reason with this psycho and her terror increases when she has to watch another woman suffer the fate that awaits her. How can she save herself? The tension increases in the story as we follow Lisa plotting her escape and Brad's frantic search for his wife.

And then comes the REALLY shocking bit. Lisa comes up with a plan to save herself and her baby and it is a shocking decision. I was staring at the page, horrified by her idea and thinking, 'surely you wouldn't do that?' Of course, if you are put in that situation and you are pregnant and want to live, how desperate might you become? We all like to think that we wouldn't do what Lisa did but can we really know how we would react in a life and death situation? It's an interesting thing to think about. I'm not going to say what Lisa does as it would ruin the plot of the book but you will be shocked, I promise you!

Part of this book is a whodunnit in the sense that the rich client who ordered the snuff film specifically wanted Lisa to be the star and victim. This has to be someone she knows, someone who knew about their travel plans that weekend and I pounced on who I thought the sick twisted git was. I kept this opinion right through the book as I found other hints to back up my thoughts-and the author surprised me by having someone else as the bad guy! I love it when there are twists that I don't see coming and this book has several. I love it when the author turns the whole story on its head! There are great scenes where the tension is just creeping off the pages!

Yes, there is rape and violence. Yes there are harrowing scenes. But it is also a really well written horror/thriller and it certainly has me interested in reading more by this author.  

Read March 2015.
star rating photo: Four Star Rating 4stars.png


  1. Awesome review! JF Gonzalez, Edward Lee, Bentley Little, and Richard Laymon have always been my go-to authors for dark, twisted, well-written pulp horror.

    1. This is the only one I've read by the author so far but I might need to check out a few more. I've always loved Richard Laymon for a fun horror read!