Survivor by Roberta Kray // Short Review & Theme Analysis

Survivor by Roberta Kray is the most mixed novel for me of 2024 so far. We are only 2 months in, but I have read over 15 books, so I have read several books before reaching to conclusion.

In terms of enjoying this novel, it sits right with Misbegotten by Katherine Webb. I do like it, but it has a weird aroma. The story tries to be a family drama, but it is a thriller. The thriller part of the book is laid quite thick, but still, it feels like it is not the book’s core. Everything in the book revolves around the missing kid, but when you read the book, it feels like the story of the protagonist (weirdly funny).

You can understand what I am saying by imagining an egg in your pocket while doing your daily chores. While the narrator will tell how you are doing your chores, the actual action is that chores are being done without breaking the egg. But the egg is in your pocket, so it is not underlined, but every action you take while doing the chores is with the mind that you have an egg in your pocket that you cannot break.

This is how this book follows. On the one hand, you have a missing girl around whom the plot is woven, but also, the story is not about the missing girl.

The reason this happens is that there is no authoritative detective in the book who is solving the case of the missing girl. There is one private detective, but his part is done in the first 25% of the book.

survivor by roberta kray book review

Cops vs no cop thrillers

When you have cops or a person chasing the case, you follow that person, investigate the clues, and interview the witnesses to reach a conclusion. But when there is no one doing it actively, and the focus of the story moves to something different, you let it go, too. That’s what happens in the book. That’s what also happens in Burned by Thomas Enger, and it also comes across as more drama than a crime-thriller.

That’s why this book is so mixed for me. I entered the book with the promise of a missing girl case, but it turns out it was the case of the missing mother. I will give it to the author that the book is not at all predictable. I recently read two books of the thriller genre, and halfway around, I guessed the suspense. Which does not happen in the book. I guess it is because the book does not seem to be planned. It was written on the go. Because the turns that happened were out of the blue, the random arcs were dropped unresolved (a murder case) by changing the protagonists’ location, and new characters were introduced conveniently. In the end, Kray wraps it all up amazingly.

Lack of foreshadowing, or maybe I missed it all, is also one of the reasons I feel the book betrayed the reader. Though there are no rules in writing, so everything goes, and it is good if it catches your attention and keeps you reading without tiring you. However, Survivor becomes tiring in some places. It is not due to the writing but because after 50% of the book, I knew that the new arc would be dropped in a few pages, so the situation that is written as serious is not as serious.

Small mistakes big consequences

There is the couplet in the Urdu language, which English translations go like this:

We have seen such incidents in history where a mistake was made in moments that resulted in punishment for decades.

The book explores this. Mistakes were made by human beings in a moment, and the consequences were suffered by the people decades in the future. However, Kray does not span the stories to multi-generation like Sidney Sheldon, but Survivor does show the butterfly effect in action. You can only think that if that had not happened, it would not have happened. What are the wishes, if not regrets and guilt, trying to cope?

In the book, one day, a man tries to kidnap a kid. The nanny fights back, and that fight sends turbulence 20 years in the future. We see how a stupid affair is the result of it. Or a convenient lie. Fear, respect, love, jealousy, anger — every emotion contributes to shaping and affecting the lives of people that did not even exist when the action happened.

Do I recommend Survivor by Roberta Kray?

As I said, I have mixed feelings about it. If you are okay with thrillers where drama is more focused than investigation, then this could be for you. It is fast-paced, and you will not get bored. But you might get annoyed sometimes, for the writing of the author as the writing is good, but the ideas were mediocre — making several sentences cringe-worthy. But cringe is what we live for.

Book Summary

Taking a look at the theme within Survivor by Roberta Kray and doing a book review of this thriller book.

Author: Roberta Kray

Editor's Rating:

Faizan Fahim

Hello, welcome to this blog. Just writing reviews of the book I like. Also, favorite quotes, poetry, memes, sometimes other topics too, but always related to literature. So join me on Twitter to talk to me.

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