Tough enough

Cover of Survivor Fiction
Survivor Fiction

I've decided to create a new subgenre and call it "Survivor Fiction". First I'll tell you what these aren't. They aren't about the last survivor of a plane crash or fictional takeoffs of the tv show about a group of people competing until the last man is standing (i.e. much of the dystopian fiction being written).

What they are, are books about characters who've come through terrible events and survived. And not only have they survived, but they've done so by working very hard to make sure they're never victimized again. I didn't think of the name for the genre at the time I read it, but Charlaine Harris's series featuring Lily Bard can be included (book one is Shakespeare's Landlord). As can Stieg Larsson's The Girl with... series if you consider Lisbeth Salander. I think I'm going to have to come up with a fuller list, but what brought this to mind is two new reads (books due out later this year), Sharon Bolton's** A Dark and Twisted Tide and Chelsea Cain's first in a new series, One Kick.

Chelsea Cain specializes in survivors. Her other series, starting with Heartsick, is all about the strange relationship between police detective Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell, the serial killer who inexplicably let him survive her terrible attack. In One Kick, Cain introduces a new survivor, Kathleen "Kick" Lannigan. Kick was abducted at the age of six and rescued six years later - but not before she was terribly abused by her abductor (who brainwashed her into thinking he was her dad). Now twenty-one, Kick spends much of her time training. Training to fight and shoot and hunt. All the skills she needs to never be a victim again. Her careful training is put to use when two young children go missing. She's convinced they were taken by the same network that took her. And when the mysterious Bishop shows up in her apartment offering to include her in his investigation, Kick takes the shot. The investigation will bring her full circle to the time when she was held as a child, but it may just be the way in which she finally shakes some of that past. There will be comparisons made to Stieg Larsson's Lisbeth Salandar, but I think a better comparison for a Kick progenitor would be Carol O'Connell's Kathleen Mallory (introduced in Mallory's Oracle).

A Dark and Twisted Tide is the fourth in a series featuring policewoman Lacey Flint. Lacey's background is a bit more mysterious. Just what she's survived is worked out over the course of the series. What she's also working out in this newest entry are the events from the last book. She barely survived the last case she was working, and her mental survival is still a struggle. To help with her recovery she has backed away from being a full-fledged detective with the London Met and is instead working on patrol with the Marine Police Force. The MPF, more commonly known as the River Police because they police the Thames, the perfect place for Lacey who is living on a river boat herself. Her attempt at a quiet, murder-free, existence falls apart when she discovers the body of a young woman in the river. It's clear the woman's is not an accidental drowning or a suicide. Soon she's assisting DCI Dana Tulloch and is more then knee-deep in murder once again.

As I look back at a lot of books that really top my lists, I realize that Survivor Fiction is a sub-genre that really works for me. The emotional journey for the survivors resonates. Perhaps because I hope that I could face such disaster with equal fight and tenacity (not saying I could, but I hope). So here I am ready to start my list. What titles would you suggest for a Survivor sub-genre?

**Sharon Bolton previously published as S. J. Bolton.