reviewed by Cy Wyss
What Doesn’t Kill Us is the story of Lucy, both past and present. Lucy has suffered through an abusive childhood and is largely alone in college until a mysterious group solicits her for membership: the Seven. The Seven is a secret society of powerful women who take Lucy under their wing and give her all she needs: friendship, money, and growing confidence. The only thing which mars Lucy’s induction into the Seven is that the other woman who was a potential candidate disappeared. Only one of them could have been chosen, so it is “convenient” for Lucy (although no one suspects her). What happened to her? The answer shadows much of Lucy’s time in the Seven. Finally, however, that mystery is eclipsed by another deeper one. What is membership really based on? All of the members seems to have suffered trauma, but that is not enough. There is a deeper secret that binds these women, a horrifying one.
I liked What Doesn’t Kill Us. The pace is good and the flashbacks deepen the story without being intrusive. The final mystery is held close until the end and came as a near surprise to me, which is always nice in a book. The women of the Seven are interesting characters, all distinct and compelling. I wasn’t that impressed by Lucy’s erstwhile boyfriend, but that is a minor point. The book also lost a star for me because it is really more on the straight-up fiction side of things than a genre piece (most of the real estate is about Lucy’s life and times), whereas I was expecting more of an action-oriented thriller. This is a fairly minor qualm and I debated whether to even dock a star for it. In the end, the truth is, I liked What Doesn’t Kill Us and you will too.