Book Review: One Kick

One Kick
By: Chelsea Cain
Published By: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: August 19, 2014
Page Count: 320
Source: ARC Provided By Publisher
Genre/Audience: Thriller, Recommended for 18+

Buy It: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Indiebound

The first thing you should know is that I loved One Kick and read it cover to cover in less than 18 hours. I finished the book weeks ago and the characters and settings are still on my mind. The second thing you should know is this book is, from what I understand since this was my first experience with her, unlike Chelsea Cain's usual fare (I don't do gore), so leave any prejudice related to that behind you. With an incredibly fast paced plot and a protagonist who has just the right balance of anger, psychosis, fight, and vulnerability, One Kick is definitely one of my 2014 favorites. 

Kick Lannigan travels with a mini arsenal in her purse. It's likely she can kill you with her bare hands -- or the Glock she purchased as soon as she turned 21. She's been through more therapy than anyone should have to endure, but target practice and martial arts training did more for her than any amount of head shrinking. 

Abducted at age six and rescued at twelve, she also has more than most people to try and move past. But the thing is, she can't. Not really. Kick finds herself obsessing over police radio chatter and Amber Alerts, while mapping and tracking local child abductions on her bedroom wall. Then Bishop shows up, a menacing and arcane stranger, who demands her help with a case Kick has already taken a special interest in...because she may be the only person who can help find the missing boy.

Thrillers are not usually my thing, but this was a book I (literally) could not put down and a two-sittings-and-I'm-done kind of book for me. The pace is relentless and there are absolutely no wasted pages. There are twists and turns, some of which you see coming and some which smack you in the face, causing you to smack yourself in the forehead for not seeing the connections Cain has built along the way. The time of Kick's abduction and captivity is told in flashbacks, which helps temper the anguish some of those scenes spark in the reader.

Kick and Bishop's push-pull, love-hate relationship is believable and Bishop shines as a textbook Byronic hero à la the Dark Knight (he even has a secluded getaway and expensive cars with gadgets). Her roommate is a crazy, but caring, tech god who loves Kick unconditionally and rarely leaves their apartment. Kick's mother is a fame-seeking shrew, who capitalizes on her daughter's trauma and creates a notoriety that no longer requires Kick's willing participation in her endless TV interviews, book tours, and consensual paparazzi photo ops. And Kick is, all at the same time, vulnerable and angry, delusional and practical, selfless and selfish, childlike and wise beyond her years. After nearly two weeks away from the book I can't stop thinking about her and she's shown up in my dreams, twice.

Cain walks the razor's edge with the flashbacks involving Kit/Kick's abduction and involvement in the child pornography industry during the time she was captive. Nothing is graphic, and though it made me slightly squeamish at times, it never crossed a line -- which I think is important to mention because the topic may be a trigger for some readers. (Full disclosure: I requested a review copy of the book before I knew that was part of the storyline. After I discovered that information via another review, I was dubious and hesitant to read it, but I ended up loving it.) The details Cain reveals are enough to paint a picture, but never get graphic and absolutely convey the sense of dependence and confusion a young child would have. 

Final Word: A fast paced thriller with engaging characters and twists along the way, and while the subject matter might be a potential trigger for some readers, Cain handles it with grace and subtlety.

Summary via Goodreads

Kick Lannigan, 21, is a survivor. Abducted at age six in broad daylight, the police, the public, perhaps even her family assumed the worst had occurred. And then Kathleen Lannigan was found, alive, six years later. In the early months following her freedom, as Kick struggled with PTSD, her parents put her through a litany of therapies, but nothing helped until the detective who rescued her suggested Kick learn to fight. Before she was thirteen, Kick learned marksmanship, martial arts, boxing, archery, and knife throwing. She excelled at every one, vowing she would never be victimized again. But when two children in the Portland area go missing in the same month, Kick goes into a tailspin. Then an enigmatic man Bishop approaches her with a proposition: he is convinced Kick's experiences and expertise can be used to help rescue the abductees. Little does Kick know the case will lead directly into her terrifying past…


  1. OMG. This is the first time I hear about this book but this is so refreshing
    A girl who knows all martial arts and stuff and has a traumatic past
    And all the twists and turns
    You make me want to read this book right now
    GREAT review
    Your reader

  2. Wow, not a topic I would have expected, but you've got to love a good survivor story.


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