Newest Review: ... of whether she really did run away or if it was something more sinister. The event obviously shook Dees and his wife, LuAnn, to the core... more
Highlighting the dangers of the internet.
Pretty Little Things - Jilliane Hoffman
Member Name: jeffjen
Pretty Little Things - Jilliane Hoffman
Advantages: Well written and highlights the dangers of the internet.
Disadvantages: A little slow after opening chapters.
Lainey Emerson is a typical 13 year old girl who enjoys spending time on her computer chatting to friends and using social networking sites. Lainey particularly enjoys using 'My Space' but doesn't see any danger at all when she arranges to meet up with online friend 'El Capitan.' Although she has pretended to be a little older than her 13 years, Lainey is excited at the thought of meeting up with someone she believes is a high school football captain, who also happens to look drop dead gorgeous on the photograph he sent to her online.
Lainey can't believe her luck that he wants to meet her and sneaks off to their agreed meeting place. Unfortunately Lainey soon finds out that she isn't so lucky after all...
Special Agent Bobby Dees of Florida's Crimes Against Children Squad vows to do whatever he can to find Lainey and bring her home, but it proves no easy task as dozens of teenage girls are going missing in the Miami area and as some of the missing begin to reappear, Dees realises time maybe quickly running out for Lainey, as the ones who are found have been gruesomely killed.
It is clear that there is a serial killer at large and he is luring his prey via the internet. It is every parent's worse nightmare and with the murderer always one step ahead of the police it seems, then there isn't much hope for finding Lainey alive.
I found it very easy to get into this book from the first chapter as Lainey's online conversations with 'El Capitan' are relayed and Lainey's excitement that this boy is interested in her is plain to see. Right away it brings home the dangers of the internet as Lainey believes that the person she is arranging to meet is 'Zach' who is a good-looking, popular boy and a star of his school's football team. After he sends what she believes is his photograph to Lainey, she tapes it to her computer screen and just the thought of him makes her hands sweat. Blonde hair, blue eyes, a lovely smile and muscles too! All this as well as having loads in common with him, seems too good to be true, but this is also why Lainey cannot resist meeting him. She isn't very happy at home with her wilder older sister and young step-brother who is a pain. Her mother doesn't seem to be around very much and she isn't keen on her step-dad either, so Lainey is enjoying this new excitement in her life.
After Lainey goes missing, the story loses some of its pace which I was slightly disappointed about. We found out more about Lainey's family life and also learn that agent Bobby Dees also has a missing daughter who ran away from home with her boyfriend after arguing with her parents who thought he was no good for her. This explains why Bobby can identify with the parents of these missing children as well as he does. However, as events take place he begins to fear that maybe his daughter could also have been a victim of this online predator, which also adds another twist to the story.
I enjoyed Bobby's character and he is very likeable as a man who is facing the pain and anguish of a missing daughter and the straining effects of this on his marriage, but is determined to find the missing girls which may also include his daughter, before it is too late. Realistically, I did wonder if he would actually be allowed to investigate this case whilst having a missing daughter himself, but it was because of this that I felt his character was more interesting than the usual cop-hunting-a-killer character you often come across.
Of course the suspense in this story surrounds who the serial killer is and although I had my suspicions early on, I was wrong. I did realise who it actually was nearer the end of the book, however, but this did not spoil my enjoyment as it was so near the end by this time. There were indeed a couple of decent twists along the way which I was pleased about, as I do like a book such as this to keep me guessing.
I also enjoyed the style of writing which for the most part contained short punchy chapters which kept me turning the pages. Although it did slow down a little after the opening chapters, the final third saw me unable to put this book down as the tension builds from the middle of the book towards its conclusion.
I felt the character of Lainey's mum was a little disappointing and I would have liked to have found out more about her, as she came across as not very caring and quite a hard person to like. It would have been nice to have been able to find out more about why she was this way and to perhaps have more sympathy for her character than I did. The character of Lainey however, was spot on as a gawky, not-so-confident teenage girl who easily fell prey to the online charm of a sick predator, despite seeming quite intelligent and street-wise. Indeed if nothing else, this book highlights very well the dangers of the internet and how important it is as parents that we monitor our children's online activities and take whatever steps possible to ensure our children are safe when online.
Pretty Little Things is a very readable thriller with a very realistic storyline. It refreshes in our mind something which we may already know, but should never forget... the internet is often a very dangerous place.
Summary: A tense thriller which also hits home just how dangerous a place the internet can be.