Inspired by a True Story

Fiction - Thriller - Psychological
340 Pages
Reviewed on 04/18/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Alma Boucher for Readers' Favorite

Michael E. Bowers' psychological thriller Olivia was inspired by a true story. Allen and Kim’s daughter, Olivia, was a beautiful young girl, almost sixteen. Allen pondered what living in Acapulco would be like, a popular tourist destination on Mexico's west coast, after watching a show about it. Allen took Kim and Olivia to Acapulco for a nice little vacation while checking out a few properties. The American Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) had been tracking Julio “Snowman” Mendez’s activity for several years and planned an operation to capture him. Julio was at the hotel for a meeting when he noticed Olivia and became obsessed with her. Because of this obsession, Olivia and her parents were caught in the crossfire between Julio and the DEA, and their lives were turned upside down.

Michael E. Bowers painted an engrossing and intricate picture of a family shattered by events beyond their control. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time because of the compelling and emotional plot, and I had no idea what would happen next. Olivia was a page-turner, and I had a hard time putting it down. The story starts with Olivia's grandparents and various characters, and each chapter expands upon the backgrounds of those people. The characters were authentic and relatable as I accompanied Allen on his journey of redemption. The support and love he received from his loved ones were heartwarming. The story was masterfully written, and themes of young love, poverty, sex, and drugs were woven throughout. This gripping story was much more than I expected, and I enjoyed reading it.

Gaius Konstantine

Life tends to bring the unexpected, and the results are catastrophic in the novel Olivia by Michael E. Bowers. The story begins during the Great Depression as young Bill Parson struggles to stay alive after his parents abandon him. Against all odds, Bill succeeds and starts a family with Carol. The years pass, and their daughter Kim meets Allen, starting her own family and giving birth to her beautiful daughter Olivia. It all comes crashing down in an instant when Olivia dies a senseless death that involves a conspiracy by the government to hide the truth. Depression, insanity, and ruin follow until, one day, Allen finds himself alone and determined to learn the truth about his daughter's death. Truth can be cruel, and Allen will discover that what he wants and needs are not the same thing.

Olivia by Michael E. Bowers is a psychological thriller and modern-day tragedy that delivers an emotional gut punch. As I read this poignant tale of personal loss, I felt many emotions, including compassion, grief, and rage. At times, the reality portrayed in the novel was so brutal that it was overwhelming. The pace was exceptionally effective, akin to a roller-coaster that takes you up slowly, only to drop you suddenly like a collapsing building and leave you in ruins. The characters were also well-developed, resulting in people who felt all too real. However, I did notice some historical inaccuracies concerning technology. Overall, Olivia is a dark and fascinating read that serves as a reminder of how nothing in life should be taken for granted.

K.C. Finn

Olivia: Inspired by a True Story is a work of fiction in the psychological thriller, interpersonal drama, and suspense subgenres. It is best suited to mature adult readers owing to the use of explicit language throughout as well as graphic violence and scenes of a sexual nature. Penned by author Michael E. Bowers, Allen's daughter, Olivia, is a beautiful sixteen-year-old living in Youngstown, Ohio, with a bright future. However, when Olivia's family becomes inadvertently entangled in the conflict between the DEA and a Mexican drug cartel, her life takes a harrowing turn. The ensuing chaos forces Allen into committing unspeakable acts, plunging his family into a world of darkness and despair.

Author Michael E. Bowers keeps readers in suspense in a gripping and emotional novel that puts you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. There’s a strong atmospheric tone to the work that sets you up for a voyage of sharp twists and tense moments, but Bowers also offers a nuanced emotional narrative that is both heart-wrenching and thought-provoking. Through vivid storytelling and compelling character development, Bowers paints a fascinating and deeply detailed portrait of a family torn apart by circumstances beyond their control. I found the dialogue and thoughts of the characters very telling in this regard, leaving readers to explore between the lines with all the right linguistic and emotional clues in place. As Allen grapples with the consequences of his actions, readers are taken on a journey of redemption and self-discovery, exploring the depths of the human psyche and the enduring power of love in the face of adversity. Overall, I would recommend Olivia as a haunting and unforgettable tale that will linger in the minds of readers long after the final page is turned.