Review: Bait – J. Kent Messum

Bait by J. Kent Messum

Title: Bait
Author: J. Kent Messum
Publication date: 27 August 2013
Publisher: Penguin
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780142180259
Length: 281 pages
Genre: Thriller
Age group: Adult
Source: Won
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository

In a nutshell

No one is coming to your aid. We have ensured this.

Six strangers wake up on a remote island in the Florida Keys with no memory of their arrival. They soon discover their common bond: all of them are heroin addicts. As the first excruciating pangs of withdrawal make themselves felt, the six notice a yacht anchored across open water. On it lurk four shadowy figures, protected by the hungry sharks that patrol the waves.

So begins a dangerous game. The six must undertake the impossible — swim to the next island where a cache of heroin awaits, or die trying. When alliances form, betrayal is inevitable. As the fight to survive intensifies, the stakes reach terrifying heights — and their captors’ motives finally begin to emerge.

My thoughts

I’ve been dying to read this book ever since it came out for so many different reasons. I love adrenaline-drenched thrillers. I’m strangely fascinated by the Agatha Christie-esque scenario of people being stranded on a deserted island (or any remote location there’s no way they would escape from) and having to survive. Add a deathly game and mysterious enemy and that’s my perfect night-time reading sorted right there. But despite the interesting premise, I just didn’t enjoy this book.

I suppose my main problem was the fact that I didn’t feel any sympathy for the characters. None of them. The story is basically a mixture of flashback episodes from the six strangers’ past and what they’re currently going through on the island. The flashbacks give readers a bit of insight into the (wasted) lives of these people, how desperate they all were for their next kick and how they were kidnapped before they ended up in the Florida Keys – which doesn’t really help you warm to them or feel any sympathy for them at all. And reading about a bunch of unlikeable people and their messed up past for a hundred pages is, let’s just say, not very entertaining.

Once we actually get to the point where they have to swim to the next island and where the story is supposed to intensify, the book becomes a bit more interesting and the story finally picks up pace, but it’s still nowhere near the unputdownable adrenaline rush it could have been.

With an intriguing premise and weak execution Bait just wasn’t my cup of tea. But if you have a few hours to kill, you’re not offended by strong language, violence and vivid descriptions of dismembered bodies, and you’re willing to give a try then go for it – I’d love to hear what you think and whether it’s just me who found it a bit dull and cliché.


2 star rating


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