Other Reviewers: Goodreads
For full disclosure this novel was given to me for review by the author, Kol Anderson. However, my review is unbiased and based on my opinion only.
This is a going to be a difficult review for me to write, not because of quality, but rather because of how the book made me feel.
I normally don’t read torture books, I don’t watch movies like Saw, and I don’t read books that are episodic. I normally read a happy, mindless (and sometimes suspenseful story) that conclude on an upbeat note. The Prisoner book is nothing like that, but rather an intensely gritty, horrific, and moving story about a man who becomes a sex slave.
Aaron Taylor is a prostitute (escort service) who is meeting a new client after a fight with his boyfriend, Sebastian. What turns out to be more than just a new client, Vincent Greene is a kidnapper who works for a sex slave trade organization. Now Aaron is really in hell, will anyone save him? Or does no one care about his pain? Will there be enough of Aaron to even be worth saving?
This review will be slightly different from my other ones, because this really isn’t a typical romance. In fact, I would not even say that it is one. It is more about a man’s deep dive into a terrifying new life as a sex slave. There are no laughs and no fun. This is a story about a man’s self-discovery and this only covers the first conflict. So if there is any character development, it is only Aaron and we are only see the beginning chapters, so to speak.
Early on in the story we come to realize that while he tries to make Sebastian (his lover who is currently in a serious relationship with someone else), he still feels alone and isolated:
Aaron’s lips broke into a grin. What would a guy who’s had a protected childhood and even more protected adulthood know about being the mature one? “I’m just used to it. You can’t be a homeless teenager and not grow up.”
The smile still plastered on his face, Sebastian was looking at Aaron with fondness, his hands still glued to Aaron’s face as if he would never let go. “Please, don’t give up on me.”
So early on, we get the impression that Aaron doesn’t have anyone to really save him. When the “bad stuff” happens, we are just left devastated and desolate.
What Does Episodic Mean?
There are other series like this, and as a whole, I try to say away from dark books. But I felt like expanding my comfort zone. And to be honest, this book was way past my comfort zone. So, when reading this book, think of this as being the first episode of Supernatural or Teen Wolf , you will not get a conclusion, but really more like the end of Act 1. There is a second book (Hell and Beyond) coming out in July 2013, which continues the story. Although I doubt that we will get any “happier” in that one.
I am not sure how the author researched sex slave training, but Anderson seemed to have an effective way of bringing the reader into the experience. The descriptions of the events, the feelings and the mental state of Aaron as he looses himself, was potent. We felt like we were there, and every humiliation felt like our own.
Aaron no longer knew what to say to him. He felt like he was being hit by things that had no sense being in his world. These were things you heard about, that you didn’t even talk about most of the time because you didn’t want to believe they happened and now it was happening to him…
What could be better?
Some other complaints that I read of reviewers was on some copy editing issues. However, other than the abundance of “…”, I really did not notice anything that was too distracting. I also read the second version, so perhaps the previous version had issue that the author corrected. The formatting of the e-book was a little unusual and was intrusive. I will say that my score decreased because of the editorial issues.
It is hard to really say what my conclusions are because the story is not done. Because of the nature of a serial story, this is only the beginning and it is an intense opening parry. If you like, violent, torturous story lines that will only leave you crying, then this book is for you. Please keep in mind that this is a brutal book when it comes to sex, so if you have any trauma experience, I would hesitate to recommend this book to you. I can not say that I would have bought this book without getting it for review, but I am glad that I did. I certainly learned something about myself and I learned gratefulness for the security and love of my family and friends.