Friday, 7 October 2016

Book Review: The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

Title: The Good Girl

Author: Mary Kubica

Pages: 355 pages

Publication: 1st August 2014 by MIRA

Reason for reading: It had been on my radar for a while, and I was caught by the ‘for fans of Gone Girl’ marketing (which we really need to get rid of).

Synosis: Mia goes to a bar to meet her boyfriend but when he doesn’t show up ends up going home with a stranger, Colin Thatcher. Instead of fulfilling his job and delivering her to his employers, he takes Mia to a cabin in Minnesota, leaving Mia’s mother, Eve, and Detective Gabe Hoffman to figure out where Mia has gone.


With regard to The Good Girl, I think the marketing is one of the biggest flaws. It seems that because it features ‘girl’ in the title and is vaguely thriller-esque, it’s been slapped with the ‘for fans of Gone Girl’ tagline, which by now is unoriginal and leads to inevitable disappointment. It’s also not a suspense thriller in my eyes; I did not feel like there was a lot of tension, the pacing was slow, and I was never shocked.

Mia, the eponymous Good Girl, is only ever seen through the eyes of others. We get everyone else’s perspective: the police detective, the mother, and the kidnapper, all of whom felt incredibly flat. It isn’t until the epilogue where we get Mia’s perspective, and this is what annoyed me most: she’s actually more of an interesting character than you would think based on the perspectives of others. It would have been much better to have the story at least half told by Mia herself, which also would have made much more sense of the title, in my opinion. Plus, the biggest ‘twist’ didn’t come until this epilogue , by which time I was so frustrated with the rest of the book that I couldn’t see past those feelings, and I then became more annoyed because in the epilogue I could see the Gone Girl aspect but it was rushed and felt sloppy.

In terms of plot, nothing really happens. Apart from the initial excitement where Mia goes home with Colin, the rest of the story is just them living in a cabin and Mia’s mother and the police detective attempting to find her, but seemingly not doing much other than spending a lot of time with each other. Also, the way in which the story is told was incredibly confusing. There’s not only a split in narrative, but also a split between the before/after, which if tension had been properly built, I might have found easier to deal with, but in the end I just felt like I was jumping all over the place with no real aim.

I see no reason for Mia’s “on-off” boyfriend ever being introduced as a character. Apart from being questioned by the police after her disappearance, he is never present, which I find extremely weird: surely, even if they were on and off, he would still be concerned about her?

Finally, there is a deeply uncomfortable emphasis on race. The bad guy we hear most about is Somali and there are multiple mentions of white people being in the minority in certain situations and this being dangerous for them, for example at Colin’s old school or in a “shady” bar. What is up with that? Why was it allowed to be published?

In the end, the only positive thing I feel I can say about this book is that the audiobook narration was relatively well done: each perspective was told by a different actor, which made it easy to distinguish between characters. I gave this book 1 out of 5 stars; if I had had access to another audiobook, I would not have hesitated in putting this down and not continuing with it.

Have you read The Good Girl? Do you share my opinions? Let me know in the comments below!
Happy reading,