Tuesdays, at least for the foreseeable future, will be set aside for reviews or “what I’m reading” posts. Because I made only two resolutions for the new year and one was to read more. I’ve been so busy writing and working the day job the last three years that reading became a luxury when it needs to be a necessity. For a writer, it’s sort of like fuel for the car. Not for ideas or writing styles but just the experience of being immersed in story.
So I did finish a book over my two-week holiday break, and it was a 2016 release by author Karin Slaughter called Pretty Girls. I resisted it at first because it’s one of those trendy “girl” books—Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, yadda yadda. But I’m glad I read it because a) I hate to admit it but this is a new author for me even though she’s quite high on the authorial food chain; b) there were way more things I liked about it than things I didn’t like; c) it’s set in my neck of the woods; and d) it’s a helluva story.
ABOUT PRETTY GIRLS: Sisters. Strangers. Survivors. More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed….The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.
WHAT I LIKED MOST: What I liked: as I said, it’s a helluva good story, and the kind I like: very twisty and twisted, where every time I think I have the outcome figured it, it takes another unexpected twist. Both Claire and Lydia are interesting characters, although I found Lydia much more likeable and relatable. Both women have a wicked sense of humor in their internal dialogue. Both are terribly damaged in their own way. It’s one of those books where once I finally got into the rhythm of it (see below), I found it hard to put down. You know the syndrome: just one more chapter and I’ll turn out the light. Okay, one more chapter….And suddenly it’s 4 a.m. The writing is terrific–very dark and yet infused with enough humor to make us care about the characters.
WHAT I LIKED LESS: A couple of things bothered me. One was the insertion of a third point-of-view character—Claire and Lydia’s late father, in sort of first-person diary entries. The rest of the chapters are all either from Claire or Lydia’s point of view. So when I’d hit a dad chapter, it jarred me out of the story. I understand why it was done, but as a reader it just didn’t work for me. The other negative—and go ahead, laugh if you must—is the depth of brutality. Rich coming from me, right? My books are not sweetness and light. But there was a scene I literally had to skim over because I just couldn’t read it. There’s not a lot of it in the book, but the evil is there. God knows I have written some bad guys in my time but holy cow. Then again, the unpredictability of the bad guy(s) in the book is one thing that kept it so tension-filled and readable. So just know it’s there.
I’d rate Pretty Girls a solid 4 Gators—my only negatives were the insertion of the third point-of-view character and the one scene that I couldn’t read. Both of those are purely subjective.
THE GIVEAWAY: Have you read Pretty Girls or another book by Karin Slaughter? Leave a comment to win a chance at a $5 Amazon gift card!