Friday, 6 October 2017

Book Review: Bait by J Kent Messum


No one is coming to your aid. We have ensured this.

Six strangers wake up on a remote island in the Florida Keys with no memory of their arrival. They soon discover their common bond: all of them are heroin addicts. As the first excruciating pangs of withdrawal make themselves felt, the six notice a yacht anchored across open water. On it lurk four shadowy figures, protected by the hungry sharks that patrol the waves. So begins a dangerous game. The six must undertake the impossible—swim to the next island where a cache of heroin awaits, or die trying. When alliances form, betrayal is inevitable. As the fight to survive intensifies, the stakes reach terrifying heights—and their captors’ motives finally begin to emerge.


My Review: 
Nash, Ginger, Felix, Kenny, Tal and Maria are all drug addicts. They have all been snatched off the streets where they live and wake up on an island beach, being watched by people on a nearby boat. A note tells them that they are now taking part in a game. On the next island there is a box containing food, water and a fix. All they have to do is swim over...through shark infested water...

I liked the idea of the game with unwilling participants being forced to take part and evil men watching from the boat and betting on who dies first. My one reservation was that I do not enjoy books with drug addict MCs, no matter what the genre. I was somewhat concerned that I would hate the six of them so much that I'd want them all to be eaten and it would spoil any enjoyment of the plot. I was surprised to find that I did like the plot and was won over by a couple of the characters by the time the deaths began. That was a pleasant surprise! And really the people had to be addicts, to force them at some point to give in against their better judgement and make the swim. The only other plot reason for doing it would've been if your family were hostages I guess.

The book begins with a short piece on each character remembering strange events leading up to their abductions. Nate flees what he thinks are law enforcement watching him in a shop and a bar, Ginger is approached by a man in a bar who makes her nervous, Felix was beaten up outside his flat, Kenny hears a phone call about someone being sold, Tal and Maria remember being abducted, and a few other things which all seem to be linked to their last fix. The small flashbacks are mixed in with the confusion in the present of where they are and what is happening to them and the finding of the box. We also get a look into the motivation of the men who have kidnapped them and why they are doing this game.

The characters don't like or trust each other on their first meeting which is not surprising. If you woke up on an island with a group of strangers and suffering from withdrawal, you would be suspicious of everyone and their motives. Felix is losing his temper and threatening anyone who might be having racist thoughts, Ginger is bitching at everyone until taking the scared Kenny under her wing, Nate tries playing peacemaker, Maria doesn't want to talk to anyone and Tal is already close to losing control. Their first interactions are certainly tense but they quickly realise that they are all in the same situation, addicted and scared and they have to come up with a plan. As one character makes the swim and is eaten, the others decide they have to make the swim while they still have the strength.

The swim was really well written. You know the sharks are out there and you know that there is a high probability that not all of them are going to safely reach the next island. The group reluctantly agree that if they leave it any longer, they will be too weak and shaky to get there. It is decided that they must all stay together as one group to give them the best possible chance of surviving. The first steps that they take into the water together are certainly nervous moments and events take a surprising turn as they move out into open water. One person decides to change their mind halfway which confuses the plan for everyone and leads to a plot twist that I loved.

Distrust hits the survivors and a faction is formed which really changes the way that the book moves forward. By this point I was rooting for a couple of the people and I wanted one to die a very violent and bloody death! The book by this stage was moving along at pace and I was really enjoying the way things were unfolding. I could actually imagine this as being a pretty decent film if the casting was right. If you like your sharks but enjoy a bit of character based drama in with it, then you might well like this one.


Read August 2017
4 stars.

18 comments:

  1. When I read the synopsis, I thought there would be no way I'd ever pick this book up. However, after reading your review and thoughts, maybe I would. It does sounds rather interesting and I can admit it is definitely unlike anything I've read before.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah I was a bit wary of the book I must admit. The first chapter or two I was convinced I was going to hate them all but I actually grew fond of a few quite quick which was a surprise! I liked the way the author put the story together and of course there are sharks!

      Delete
  2. The drug addict thing is throwing me a bit because I don't really like reading about addicts and drunks, but it sounds like there might be enough other good things about this book to make it worth reading. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hate books with druggie or drunks as Mcs. It almost put me off the book but I was too tempted by the sharks in the end! Once you get past the first chapter or two, the characters do get better than just druggies.

      Delete
  3. I can see where you might actually come to like some of the characters. I'm thinking some of these people weren't all bad and didn't mean to get addicted. I'd love to read this. I want to know what happens in the water.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the author did well to make me start liking them more. It would've been easy to hate them all. I'd like to see a film of this one but maybe with more potential victims!

      Delete
  4. This sounds totally messed up and awesome! I've been curious about this book ever since I heard about it, thanks for reviewing and checking it out for me :)

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was never going to be able to resist the shark and game elements of this one!

      Delete
  5. Wow, this sounds good. Love the premise! Betting on addicts having to brave the sharks... not very sporting of them is it??? lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think one of the reasons I grew to like the characters is because you see the bad guys as the ones who put them there for entertainment...yet even the bad guys do have a bit of a point to their actions in a twisted way!

      Delete
  6. You are having success with the sharks lately. Thanks for this review, it sounds like a great read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah I read that back in August. I'm about two months behind in my reviews and not progressing very fast...

      Delete
  7. Great review! I am not big on drug addicted MC's either, but your review makes me want to give this one a go!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd like to see the film plot maybe having families held hostage to force them to swim. It would make a good film. Decent read for sure.

      Delete
  8. Oh yay! I bought this book for $1 not that long ago and have wondered about it. It sounds like it will be a pretty good read. So glad you enjoyed it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I certainly liked it. I'm pleased every time I like a shark book!

      Delete
  9. omg stories of people kidnapped and force to do things make me shiver! Especially if it is a creepy game and against each other! and sharks??? this is horror! LOL Glad you connected with the characters so well to root for them [or wish them a horrible death lol]

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was worried I might not like it so I was really happy to have enjoyed it. I needed more sharks in my life!

      Delete