• The Informationist

  • A Vanessa Michael Munroe Novel, Book 1
  • By: Taylor Stevens
  • Narrated by: Hillary Huber
  • Series: Vanessa Munroe, Book 1
  • Length: 12 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 08-03-11
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • 4 out of 5 stars 4.0 (59 ratings)

Editor reviews

This strikingly solid debut from Taylor Stevens is already earning some remarkably weighty comparisons, most notably to Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne trilogy and Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander series. The first in a plan for at least three books, The Informationist introduces us to Vanessa Michael Munroe. Munroe is certainly the love child of Bourne and Salander, a fierce fighting machine with a gift for technology and an ability to blend into any environment. But she also has a unique feature that most thriller protagonists can’t touch: Munroe’s past is based heavily on Stevens’ own history. Born into the controversial Children of God cult, Stevens travelled the world under conditions of harsh discipline and intense violence. Ultimately fleeing the commune but never quite able to escape the demons it awakened within her, the author endows her hero with a considerably more believable inner monologue than many similarly hardened good guys whose authors do not have the benefit of any ordeals relevant to their characters.
As Munroe runs all over central Africa trying to put down the terrifying reminders of her childhood in the region and pick up the cold trail of a missing girl, listeners encounter a dozen different local accents and several assorted languages, from German and French to Fang and Portuguese. Thankfully, Audie Award-winner and veteran narrator Hillary Huber is there to guide us through it. Her tough and sexy natural voice is a perfect fit for Munroe, and Huber’s deftly diligent rendering of each accent is an absolute delight to the ear. This international flavor is crucial to the ambience and pace of the story, and any lesser narrator would have taken all the life out of it. Though Stevens incorporates many traditional characters like the possibly nefarious Texan billionaire, the macho sidekick who can’t really keep up, and the rugged jungle gun-runner, The Informationist is brimming with fresh perspective and depth thanks to the one-two punch of Stevens’ wealth of personal experience and Huber’s professional savvy. —Megan Volpert
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Vanessa “Michael” Munroe deals in information - expensive information - working for corporations, heads of state, private clients, and anyone else who can pay for her unique brand of expertise. Born to missionary parents in lawless central Africa, Munroe took up with an infamous gunrunner and his mercenary crew when she was just fourteen. As his protégé, she earned the respect of the jungle's most dangerous men, cultivating her own reputation for years until something sent her running. After almost a decade building a new life and lucrative career from her home base in Dallas, she's never looked back.
Until now.
A Texas oil billionaire has hired her to find his daughter who vanished in Africa four years ago. It’s not her usual line of work, but she can’t resist the challenge. Pulled deep into the mystery of the missing girl, Munroe finds herself back in the lands of her childhood, betrayed, cut off from civilization, and left for dead. If she has any hope of escaping the jungle and the demons that drive her, she must come face-to-face with the past that she’s tried for so long to forget.
Gripping, ingenious, and impeccably paced, The Informationist marks the arrival or a thrilling new talent.
©2011 Taylor Stevens (P)2011 Random House Audio
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Critic reviews

“Stevens’s blazingly brilliant debut introduces a great new action heroine, Vanessa Michael Munroe, who doesn’t have to kick over a hornet’s nest to get attention, though her feral, take-no-prisoners attitude reflects the fire of Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander….Thriller fans will eagerly await the sequel to this high-octane page-turner.” ( Publishers Weekly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Anthony on 05-02-12

Excellent Audio Book

Great Audio book to listen, this is my first experience with Listening Audio and I am now hooked with it

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

1 out of 5 stars
By Clare on 22-02-12

Can't believe the reviews!!

I love strong female characters and this is just the kind of book I devour. The story rocks along at a good pace and is set in interesting parts of the world, but the lead character is totally unbelievable and ruins the book... Worshipped like a god, learns a language fluently in a week... and if that's not good enough, her knife skills are apparently better than her startlingly impressive linguistic abilities!! Why?? It was not necessary!!

The story was reasonably well written and had a good storyline, but was ruined by the laughably preposterous main character!! Shame, could have been great!!

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Diana - Audible on 17-04-12

What a start!

I started listening to The Informationist while taking the train home on a Friday – usually the time I close my eyes and unwind after a full week. But this time my imagination was captured by Taylor Stevens’ tough-as-nails, mysterious new action heroine: information specialist Vanessa “Michael” Monroe. Some say her character is a bit over the top – too much of a butt-kicking Angelina Jolie – but what I find most interesting about her is Stevens’ own cult history past woven into Monroe’s intimate knowledge of the wilds of Africa. Hilary Huber’s cool and sultry tone fits Monroe’s character, and I’m looking forward to more from them in The Innocent.

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14 of 14 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By John C. on 12-05-11

Strong premise & character descend into melodrama

The book sets a great atmosphere and the protagonist is initially captivating. The narrator does a good job and the book despite it's flaws is entertaining until it becomes laughable in the end. A fitting description might be Terminator melts into Romancing the Stone.

The flaws:
The book repeatedly pulls it's punches. The lead is always "about" to get violent, but keeps warning people not to mess with her instead. The action takes a nose-dive while the protagonists wrestles with school-girlish issues of love. All but one of the potential villains have less than a page of character development in the entire book making them irrelevant to the reader. Despite the title, it is never demonstrated that the main character has any particular ability to obtain or analyze information. Her only ability in this regard seems to be that she grew up in Africa and knows the lingo. To add insult to injury the character to be rescued becomes an unimportant afterthought and the main character decides that embarrassment might be punishment enough for the people who tried to kill her and her friends.

The bottom line is that the author set out to create a Lisbeth Salander like character with no idea of what motivates such a character and little idea of what the genre expects. The extreme weakness of the protagonist at the end (i.e. indecisive, illogical, passive, and naive) would make Jack Bauer and Mitch Rapp hurl. And back to pulling punches, the author blends three different endings together instead of choosing a solid one. It's akin to "It's okay that I let my son's killer go free, because he died in a car accident a few weeks later."

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59 of 63 people found this review helpful

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