Book Review: What Doesn’t Kill You (by Iris Johansen)

“One man made her stronger. Another made her a target.”

No comments

“It’s the deadliest poison known to man. 

He’s the only one who knows its true power.

She’s the only one who can stop the evil.

The chase is on.”

What Doesn’t Kill You is a fine read that I think would appeal to fans of thriller stories especially those with a particular interest for badass female leading the whole gang of heroes set on saving the world for surefire doom.

It was published on 2012 and is the 2nd installment in the Catherine Ling series. While it’s a standalone book on its own, I feel like it would’ve been better if I read the first book. Anyway, I’ll make sure to add that one on my reading list.

3 Things I like best

Catherine and Luke’s Mother-son relationship

This element of the story is one that convinced me to read (soon) the first installment. Catherine and his son’s relationship in this book is strained, but not so complicated. Concise backstories were provided to give idea on what made this 11-year old child the way he is.

While Catherine’s character is distinct for her cold bearing (fit for a covert operative), I always find it a good experience to see her work on her maternal responsibilities towards Luke. It provided a warm angle against the fast-paced, bloody encounters that dominated the entire story.

More importantly, it shows her humanity.

As for Luke, he’s on the same page. He had it rough as a kid, but he’s learning. And I like watching him grow. This kid’s got so much potential.

Hu Chang’s character

Is fascinating.  He’s a narcissistic genius who operates in certain life philosophies he considers as the only true in the world. I say he’s too full of himself. Catherine and Venable will agree.

But despite the blatant arrogance, Hu Chang’s a loyal man who takes very good care of those important to him (read: Catherine and by extension, Luke). Very good in fact that he’s willing to take lives to spare theirs. Not so agreeable, I know. But he will. He had.

There were several times I found him unreasonable, but I always end up trusting the man. He gets the job done, albeit unconventionally. He can be very convincing with his words too.

“Words are like bits of crystal, the more faceted, the more beautiful. Speech should not be boring.”Hu Chang

Catherine and John Gallo’s chemistry

Is downright intense, sexy and deadly. You know that pair who’s not even a couple but emits that explosive tension by doing nothing more than staying in a room planning for their next attack? Catherine and John is that pair.

Few Fiction facts about these two:

  • They’re both fighters. (On several levels above the typical special ops members)
  • They’re not always ‘legal.’ (Yes, they’ve worked with the government, but have been shown independence in decisions if a situation demands it.)
  • They’re both parents. (Unfortunately for Gallo, his daughter already passed away.)
  • They’re physically attracted to each other. (And they both knew it.)

They operate well individually, but this story showcased how their tandem can yield even better results than going solo. And I like reading their scenes. It’s exciting, and yes, as I’ve said, sexy. They have chemistry. And perhaps we’re not just looking at something physical in here.

1 Thing that felt lacking

The villain Nardik

To be fair, he had a strong ‘villainy’ background that served as a credible foundation for his role in the story. He’s rich, greedy and ruthless. But while his actions and strategies worked at some point, I do think he lacked the crucial element of being a ‘strategist’ in this game of cat and mouse.

He had the logistics, but not the method to mobilize them well.

To be honest, I wasn’t really convinced that Nardik can pull it off against Catherine, Hu Chang, and Gallo. He just felt lacking.

In a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest, I’m giving What Doesn’t Kill You, a


This book is available in Amazon at $14.99 (Price is subject to change without prior notice.)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s