If you’re looking for a strong central character and are tired of female characters being portrayed as helpless, always waiting on a man to save or rescue them rather than doing the job themselves, then Shannon Kirk’s The Method might be the book for you.
You’re sixteen, you’re pregnant and you’ve been kidnapped.
If you’re anyone else you give in, but if you’re a manipulative prodigy you fight back in the only way you can. You use what you’ve been given against your captors.
You have only one chance to save your life and that of your unborn child. You’re calculating, methodical, and as your kidnappers are about to discover, they made a big mistake in abducting you.
What happens when the victim is just as dangerous as the captors?
It was the book’s blurb that first made me want to read The Method. The premise is as intriguing and different as its main protagonist. A pregnant teen doesn’t sound like your average victim, so while I had my suspicions about why she was targeted, I needed to know for certain what and who were behind her disappearance. And, as quickly becomes apparent, her kidnappers might have chosen the wrong girl. If they thought they were choosing a vulnerable and troubled teenager, they’re about to find out the extent to which appearances can be deceiving and just how fatal an error underestimating someone is.
For our narrator is anything but victim material: she’s already survived one traumatic event in her childhood. She has been raised to be one of life’s survivors. That, together with the pretty unusual skill-set she’s honed, means that this girl is about to turn her time in captivity into one big science project. And while some of her calculations are of their nature repetitive, as she finds a pattern to her days, there are also enough slight twists and upsets that this isn’t a huge problem. Besides, it’s interesting to try and work out if and how she’ll use each asset she identifies and labels throughout the book, and here Shannon Kirk will misdirect you, before reaching Show and Tell day.
Interspersed with her chapters are some narrated by one of the Special Agents working the kidnapping. I enjoyed having this counterweight to the victim’s story and a voice from the outside world: a chance for the reader to know what is being done by the FBI and local forces to find their girl. And rather refreshingly here too, just as is the case with the victim, both agents involved have special gifts and have been partnered together for a reason. (If I’m tired of reading about or watching helpless female victims, then I’m equally frustrated by the police or investigators regularly being portrayed as either slow and stupid or clumsy oafs.)
That’s not to say there weren’t aspects of The Method that were problematical for me: I baulked at what causes the agents’ delay in getting to the place where our girl is being held. And I questioned the lack of exercise and fresh air she enjoyed, along with the restrictive diet, while appreciating that allowing one and altering another could have risked the kidnappers being exposed for what they were.
The Method is a refreshingly different take on a kidnapping drama: where the victim refuses to be one and instead turns the tables on her abductors. She can play the demure, helpless female but she’s steely and fighting all the time: she’s fighting against the monotony of her days in confinement, the boredom she knows is her enemy, the heat of her cell, the hate she feels coursing from, and back towards, her captors, and an inbuilt countdown clock telling her her time is running out. The Method has at its core a brutal crime committed by desperate people, who are pitted against their poorly chosen victim: a young mother-to-be using who she is and what she knows together with what she finds around her to create a safe place for her and her unborn child, and to transform herself from victim to survivor once more. It’s an experiment not without its setbacks and false data, but for being conducted out in the field, it’s certainly far more entertaining than any lab-based control. Recommended.
The Method by Shannon Kirk is published by Sphere, an imprint of Little, Brown, in the UK. It is available as an ebook and audiobook and in paperback and you can buy it from Amazon UK, Audible UK, Foyles, Hive (supporting your local independent bookshop) and Waterstones.
Shannon Kirk is a practicing attorney and law professor. She has been honoured three times by the Faulkner Society in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, a physicist, and their son.
The Method won the 2015 National Indie Excellence Award for best suspense, has been optioned for a major motion film by Next Wednesday productions and will be translated into several languages. You can find out more about the author and her work through her Author Website,
My thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy of The Method.
The Method Blog Tour is on all this week at the following participating blogs: