“The Informationist” by Taylor Stevens is the first book in the Vanessa Michael Munroe series. I actually read the fourth book in the series first because I did not realize that it was part of a series. However I came to find this author, I have become completely captivated by her writing and the character Vanessa Michael Munroe. Taylor Stevens is truly gifted and part of what I enjoy so much about this series is that in no way, shape, or form is Vanessa Michael Munroe a ditzy damsel in distress – she is a strong female lead that takes shit from no one. She is a complete badass and makes for an amazing protagonist.
Munroe is not without her faults and she struggles with many demons. I really enjoyed getting background on why she is the way she is. She has many layers of pain to her and the more I read, the more her exterior unraveled and I got to learn about her. Munroe is in the business of getting information and “The Informationist” begins with her returning from an assignment only to find out that someone else is trying to hire her to look into a missing persons case. This is not what Munroe usually handles, but once she gets some background on the case and realizes where she would have to return in order to find this girl, she finds herself conceding to the assignment. It is when she decides that she is taking the assignment that she reflects upon what that will mean. “Returning to the past was inevitable. Somehow in the last nine years she’d managed to stay upright on a tightrope stretched between brilliance and insanity, the blackness of the abyss always with her, leaving her sometimes wondering if letting go might in the end be easiest of all.
Work had kept her sane, kept the line taut. It wasn’t fear that held her back from Burbank’s assignment or where it would lead, nor was it the contents of the envelope, symbols of the past that they were. It was uncertainty: If the line should snap, on which side of the abyss would she land? She’d planned to return when she no longer cared…
…Maybe she’d always care, maybe there was never going to be a good time, maybe she’d be running forever.” (The Informationist, pg 51).
I really enjoy the way that Taylor Stevens writes. I think she gives a unique voice to Munroe. At one point in the novel another character asks Munroe what her demons are. Her response is, “The aloneness. The invisible walls. Always the outsider looking in. Different. Unusual. I despise their world and the superficiality of it all and yet still want to be a part of it. I wonder sometimes how much simpler a life of naïveté and unawareness would be.” (The Informationist, pg 166). I think this quote sheds a great deal of light onto what Munroe is like, how she feels and reacts to things.
This is another quote that I feel demonstrates well how Munroe thinks. She is so used to relying only on herself that when someone else’s existence becomes something she wants to protect that she can’t help but react differently from how most people would. “The emotion she felt was a violation of the cardinal rule of survival; it skewed reason, clouded logic, had to be eradicated. Munroe took a deep breath and exhaled. She needed control, and to regain it required internal shutdown. Another intake of air, and she closed her eyes and then against her better judgment fought it, argued against it, and finally postponed it. Beyard was a rare equal, a man with skill and motive to destroy both her and the assignment. The danger was an intoxicating lure, difficult to abandon.” (The Informationist, pg 179).
Munroe is a complex character. She, like all people, has a natural desire to be around others. But her past has made her wary of others and instead of craving company she pulls from it. She doesn’t have the ability to function the way most do. She cannot accept other people into her world, and her aloneness makes her strong and weak at the same time. “After nearly our weeks of continual companionship, solitude brought with it the feeling of nakedness soon replaced by the exhilaration of freedom.” (The Informationist, pg 213). I think this expressed it well. Munroe functions best alone.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely – I think that Taylor Stevens is a very talented storyteller and Vanessa Michael Munroe is a character that you can’t stop cheering for. She is a strong character that I cannot get enough of. I have already started reading the next book in the series and I hope that the series continues on for many more volumes.