Forgetting Zoë – Ray Robinson

The BookDepository

I accepted a copy of Forgetting Zoë for review because I’d seen Scott Pack rave about it on numerous occasions. I didn’t love it as much as he did, but am pleased that I read it.

Forgetting Zoë revolved around the abduction of Zoë, a ten-year-old girl. The first few chapters introduced us to Thurman, her captor, and went some way to explaining the mindset of a man about to imprison a girl. We were then introduced to Zoë as she was abducted and imprisoned in a converted nuclear bunker beneath a remote farm house in Arizona.

The book was told from the point-of view of Thurman, Zoë and Zoë’s family. It was fast paced and very well written, but the pace of the book meant that it lacked the emotional depth I’d expect from a book with this subject matter. The short chapters and continuing switch of view point meant that I never had long enough to really engage with any of the characters. This could be seen as a positive attribute as it meant that I never became distressed while reading it, but I found it strange to read such a dark subject without getting tears in my eyes.

The fear never subsided. Often mistaking the trickle of tears in her ears for insects Zoë would bat them away and then lick her fingers, half comforted by the taste of herself. These never-ending days below. Her memories were being eaten away by the silence and so she hummed to herself to remind her whose skin she was in.

It was interesting to read Zoë’s thoughts about her abduction and to see her reliance on her captor grow, but I’m afraid that I can’t say any more without spoiling the ending for you.

It is almost impossible to review this book without comparing it to Room, my favourite book of the year so far. The two books had very similar plots, the only real difference being that Room was narrated by the five-year-old child of the abducted woman. The main reason that I found Room so special was the innocence of the child, the way his mother protected him from the true horror of their situation and the fact he could actually find happiness with so little. Many people that read Room wished some of the book had been narrated by his mother. I never felt that, but if you did then I suspect that you’ll enjoy Forgetting Zoë.

Recommended to anyone looking for a fast paced, intelligent book about the lives of those affected by the abduction of a child, especially those who thought Room was overly sentimental.


Send to Kindle

23 Comments

  1. Bibliophile By the Sea says:

    I don’t think I could read another book about abduction after ROOM. Just so sad.

    1. Jackie says:

      Bibliophile By the Sea, I didn’t find this one very emotional, but I know what you mean about reading too many books on the same subject – especially if it is a depressing one.

  2. Oooo, sounds intriguing: I’m so glad you mentioned this one. The quote you’ve chosen is very revealing of the distance you mention in the novel’s narrative style: brushing away emotion like flies. Nice.

    1. Jackie says:

      BuriedInPrint, I can’t say I deliberately meant to compare brushing off emotion with brushing flies, but it is a good comparison now you mention it :-) I just picked the quote because I liked it.

  3. Amy says:

    This sounds good, but I’ll be looking for ROOM first :)

    1. I’m with Amy. I’ve wanted to read Room for a while already, so that goes first. If I have the stomach for more, I’d like to try this one too.

      1. Jackie says:

        Amy/Judith, I always save the best for last, but with books that often means I miss out on the best one. I’d hate for you to miss out on reading Room so go for it. I hope you enjoy it :-)

  4. This one sounds really good to me. It doesn’t look like it’s available in the U.S., but I’ll keep it on my radar and hope it makes its way over here eventually.

    1. Jackie says:

      Carrie, I hope it makes it into the US soon :-)

  5. I heard about this book months ago, Jackie, and liked the sound of it but I haven’t seen any reviews of it until now. I adored ROOM but I still really want to read this one too. Thanks for the review.

    1. Jackie says:

      The Book Whisperer, It is quite interesting to compare the two – it would make quite a good essay if you were studying different ways of approaching the same subject in literature. I hope you enjoy them both :-)

  6. Jenners says:

    I guess I do kind of expect to get emotional when I read a book about an abduction of a child. And I so very much want to read Room!

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenners, Perhaps I just have a hard heart at the moment, but it was a bit weird to not find it an emotional book to read. I’d love to know if others found it moved them…

  7. I’ve heard mixed reviews about this book, in terms of the writing style. It does sound like something I’d enjoy reading though, so I’m looking forward to reading it. Again, slightly apprehensive that it’s going to be one of those books that try too hard to be too emotional..

    1. Jackie says:

      anothercookiecrumbles, Interesting. I’ve only seen Scott’s ravings so haven’t seen any negative comments about it. I can see why the style would annoy some though -it is very like a thriller, so if you don’t like the fast pace it might annoy you. It definately isn’t trying too hard to be emotional. Its lack of emotion that is the problem here.

  8. Alyce says:

    That cover is gorgeous, but I tend to stay away from abduction stories, so I don’t think I’ll read this one.

    1. Jackie says:

      Alyce, I agree – great cover – very atmospheric!

  9. Stephanie says:

    Sometimes I am in a mood where I prefer a fast moving plot, so I will definitely look out for this one.

    1. Jackie says:

      Stephanie, I like to mix up the plot speeds too :-) I hope you find a copy.

  10. Elise says:

    I’m really intersted in reading this one now that I’ve read Room. I feel that like you say this one won’t be as affecting, but I’m interested in reading it anyway. I enjoyed reading your review! Thanks.

    1. Jackie says:

      Elise, It is very interesting to compare the two books. I hope that you decide to read it as I’d love to see if you find the same differences between the two books.

  11. If you’re interested in comparing books about kidnapping, I really can’t recommend Helpless by Barbara Gowdy enough. It was a painfully complex look at the topic, mostly from the kidnapper’s POV.

    1. Jackie says:

      Lija, All Barbara Gowdy books are now on my wishlist thanks to you. I think I’ve read enough kidnap books for this year, but hopefully I’ll be able to find a copy of Helpless next year and see how it compares :-)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Choo Woo – Lloyd Jones – Farm Lane Books Blog
  2. The finding of lost children: Donoghue and Robinson « Follow the Thread

Leave a Reply