Book Review: The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

2.5gem

18812405

“I’ve been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don’t know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she’s scared. But I will.” 

Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia Dennett moves against the grain as a young inner-city art teacher. One night, Mia enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn’t show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. With his smooth moves and modest wit, at first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life.

Colin’s job was to abduct Mia as part of a wild extortion plot and deliver her to his employers. But the plan takes an unexpected turn when Colin suddenly decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota, evading the police and his deadly superiors. Mia’s mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them, but no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family’s world to shatter.

An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a compulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems….

First thing I’ll say is that I think this book has suffered for its comparisons to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl – on multiple levels. People who never heard or read them might have enjoyed the book more.

The novel is told from the perspectives of three people: Eve (Mia’s mother), Gabe (the lead Detective of the case), and the abductor himself, Colin Thatcher. The narratives also move back and forth in time – Before Mia’s return, and After her return – gradually converging to the point where everything changed and things came to a head. The result of the long seclusion of Colin and Mia, and how it affected her afterwards. This structure was interesting, was probably the strongest part of the book, and was also easy to follow.

However, the narrative is robotic, flat; there’s no difference between the three voices. I couldn’t connect to them. The narrative lacks maturity and depth, and the characterisations are hackneyed. There was no stirring of emotions. I felt nothing for much of the book.

Gabe was unlikable and somewhat odd. The detective only cared about the mother and never came across as an intelligent, sharp officer of the law. His attachment to Eve was banal. She can’t have been the first distraught mom with an asinine husband he’d come across. And despite it being his first high-profile case and being an experienced detective, he seemed much too invested in Eve personally. His attachment to her seemed to stem from her beauty and fragility, and dislike of her husband, which I didn’t appreciate. The idea of needing an immediate substitute/better option to realise the error of your ways and come to the decision of leaving a poisonous relationship never sits well with me. Why can’t characters ever come to that stage in life on their own, without the presence of a better example/option, and have some downtime after the fact?

Eve’s perspective was mostly useless and weak. She kept whining, let herself be dominated and never developed a backbone. Also seemed to lack a meaningful interaction with her daughter. Mia herself was not a character I could feel for. Despite her mothers’ attempts to arouse sympathy and compassion, despite the favourable views of her – there wasn’t much, and it doesn’t make you like her or feel sympathy for her. You don’t feel sorry or bad for her – basically you don’t care either way.

I was more interested in Colin, but the change in him and his development is flawed. The shift from an abusive thug to a person who goes on to care for Mia was gradual and you come to understand why he does what he does. But you never quite get why he took her away and kept her. That he was hit by a moment of conscientiousness seems insufficient since he could’ve easily left her near civilization and got away. Especially if you consider that he did fine at ignoring her attractiveness and not being swayed by it.

The novel doesn’t work very well as a mystery thriller, especially a psychological one. It’s not suspenseful, lacks sufficient build-up and tension until the section towards the end. The actual mystery/suspense part was woefully short, and distasteful even as it made you think about the consequences of decisions made out of vengeance, resentment, misguided justice. How they can cause more harm than imagined; misguided emotions, decisions, choices. But, again, not enough was written about the reasons for the events themselves. Despite all the flashbacks and childhood stories, and family descriptions and background, it wasn’t enough to truly hit you; did not become a revelation and instead left you unhappy with the non-existent reasoning.

It was a predictable novel. I knew what would happen and who set the events in motions almost from the beginning. And there are a few plot holes. The ending wasn’t surprising at all, though I did wish it to be happier. The novel also has a slightly racist tone. It’s not a bad novel, just needed some more work. It might’ve helped to not have a sedate pace throughout the story. The writing was good but often repetitive. In some places the author was too descriptive and in others not enough. Also, the book cover is misleading as Mia is not as young as the girl on the cover.

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About Sapphire

Hi, I'm 23 years old. I enjoy reading fantasies, mysteries/thrillers, romances... mostly fiction. My choice in movies is widespread. Series mostly consist of crime and comedy shows with occasional dramas and sit-coms. My close friends and family kept saying (complaining) that I critique most of what I read and watch, so I decided to pursue it, here! View all posts by Sapphire

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