I review Baby Doll by Holly Overton for the Lovereading review panel.
Now, I love a good thriller, and Baby Doll seemed to have all the right ingredients – kidnap, abuse, escape, revenge – for a hard-hitting, moving story. But, sadly, Baby Doll didn’t live up to expectations.
Anyone who reads my blog knows that the most important aspect of story writing is the characters, in my humble opinion. Of course, a story needs more, and things like plot and setting serve their purpose, but it is the characters you follow, care about. It is the characters that make the story real. The characters in Baby Doll felt wooden, unrealistic. I couldn’t relate to any of them. Lily in particular was, quite frankly, annoying. One could understand certain aspects of her personality, due to all she’d been through, but the delivery was, put simply, disappointing. I’m sure Overton has talent as a writer – her ability to imagine the plot and execute a thrilling storyline is clear, but she needs to work on her characters. It seems to me that Overton was too focused on delivering the thrill and shocks that come with this genre, and so her characters suffered.
I recently watched Thirteen on BBC, which had a similar storyline to Baby Doll – girl gets kidnapped, girl escapes, girl tries to live a normal life. As always, the most interesting aspect of these stories, for me, is the relationship one builds with their kidnapper. Despite suffering terrible abuse at their hands, the victim can grow attached to their abuser, even loyal. Baby Doll could (and arguably should) have focused more on this aspect, in order to create a protagonist the reader can relate to, empathise with, even understand. But instead, Overton created a shallow protagonist, and one I simply couldn’t care less about.
Note: I don’t mean to shoot an author down on their debut – I appreciate and respect every writer who gets their work out there. I just think there’s always room for improvement, and I mean the above to be constructive criticism. I wish only the best for Overton, and will look out for her future work.
Goodreads | @hollieoverton