A serial rapist is kidnapping teenage girls. But he’s not interested in just any teenage girls—only virgins. He hunts them by following their status updates and check-ins on social media. Once he’s captured them, they’re locked away in his sound-proof basement until they’re groomed and ready. He throws them away like pieces of trash after he’s stolen their innocence. Nobody escapes alive. Until Ella. Ella risks it all to escape, setting herself and the other girls free. But only Sarah—the girl whose been captive the longest—gets out with her. The girls are hospitalized and surrounded by FBI agents who will stop at nothing to find the man responsible. Ella and Sarah are the key to their investigation, but Sarah’s hiding something and it isn’t long before Ella discovers her nightmare is far from over.
Last year I read a very special book called The Girl Before by Rena Olsen. Even though I did love it back then, it’s one of those that have been in my mind ever since. I’ve been searching for books dealing with similar themes and I often remember some of the scenes. When I came across Appetite for Innocence, I knew I had to read it because of the obvious similarities (not about the actual topic, but because of the protagonists).
This was not an easy book to read at all. The writing (it flows, it’s simple yet compelling) but the theme is incredibly dark. Appetite for Innocence is about a man who kidnaps young virgins and tries to get them “ready” for him. What interested me the most was the fact that one of the girls, Sarah, had been with him forever and helped him kidnap and “groom” the other girls. She had been completely brainwashed, much as the woman from The Girl Before.
The psychology of what makes a young girl behave like that has always fascinated me. It’s easy to judge them, but I prefer to try to understand their motives and how they become that person. One thing that I really liked about this novel was how Ella’s mother felt so much for Sarah and wanted to help her despite her own daughter being against it. I could understand both of them and that’s something I’ve come to appreciate in books. The fact that not everything is black and white.
So yes, the book deals with a hard topic and features some dark scenes, one that I particularly hope I never have to read ever again. I swear I had to put the book down for a few seconds and those who’ve read the novel probably know which moment I’m talking about. However, you also know how much I admire an author that isn’t afraid to go dark and Lucinda Berry is clearly a writer to watch out for.
To be honest, I wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending, as I think it took the easy way out and I didn’t really like how the events played out. I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t elaborate, but I was expecting something more complex and thought-provoking, not the classic thriller climax.
Rise Press, 2017