Monday, August 22, 2016

Review: All the Missing Girls

Summary: Like the spellbinding psychological suspense in The Girl on the Train and Luckiest Girl Alive, Megan Miranda’s novel is a nail-biting, breathtaking story about the disappearances of two young women—a decade apart—told in reverse.

It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared from Cooley Ridge without a trace. Back again to tie up loose ends and care for her ailing father, Nic is soon plunged into a shocking drama that reawakens Corinne’s case and breaks open old wounds long since stitched.

The decade-old investigation focused on Nic, her brother Daniel, boyfriend Tyler, and Corinne’s boyfriend Jackson. Since then, only Nic has left Cooley Ridge. Daniel and his wife, Laura, are expecting a baby; Jackson works at the town bar; and Tyler is dating Annaleise Carter, Nic’s younger neighbor and the group’s alibi the night Corinne disappeared. Then, within days of Nic’s return, Annaleise goes missing.

Told backwards—Day 15 to Day 1—from the time Annaleise goes missing, Nic works to unravel the truth about her younger neighbor’s disappearance, revealing shocking truths about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne that night ten years ago.

Like nothing you’ve ever read before, All the Missing Girls delivers in all the right ways. With twists and turns that lead down dark alleys and dead ends, you may think you’re walking a familiar path, but then Megan Miranda turns it all upside down and inside out and leaves us wondering just how far we would be willing to go to protect those we love. -- Simon & Schuster

I am getting to the point where I hate all of the book comparisons to THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN and LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE. I realize that publishers are trying to attract fans of those books to read their latest female protagonist thriller; however, it's just not fair. A lot of these books can stand on their own merit. Case in point -- ALL THE MISSING GIRLS by Megan Miranda.

ALL THE MISSING GIRLS tells the story of Nicolette Farrell, a woman who left her hometown ten years ago after her best friend, Corinne, mysteriously disappeared. Now living in Philadelphia with a good job and a fiancé that most would consider quite the catch, she is forced to return home to help with her aging father.

Within days of Nic's return, another local woman named Annaleise goes missing without a trace. Needless to say, Corinne's unsolved case is brought right back in the spotlight. Nic's high school boyfriend Tyler is a suspect -- he was dating Annaleise at the time of her disappearance; however, Nic finds that she's also being looked at by the police along with her brother Daniel. It's hard to argue with the police that there are just too many coincidences in the two disappearances.

I have a feeling this is a "love it" or "hate it" type of book. I read two reviews, Publishers Weekly and Kirkus; and they couldn't have been more different. I actually will side with PW on this one. I thought ALL THE MISSING GIRLS was a well-written, suspenseful story that kept me turning the pages until late in the night.

I certainly found a lot to like in ALL THE MISSING GIRLS. First and foremost, I loved how the story was told. The novel is written in Nic's voice which worked extremely well because it gave readers an insider's look into the story. As I learned more and more about Nic and her past, I actually began to wonder if she was a reliable narrator. In many cases, I feel manipulated by an unreliable female narrator but not so with this novel.

In addition, I loved that the story took place in reverse chronological order. I wasn't entirely sure the author could pull off this trick, but she did so with flying colors. The story begins with the end (which is actually Day 15) and each chapter is the prior day until you reach Day 1. There is actually an ending past Day 15, but you get the drift. I found the presentation to be so clever and effective, and I especially appreciated not knowing what happened in the past whether that was 15 days earlier or 10 years earlier. I will say that there were a few times when I was a little disoriented, but for the most part, I loved how the clues were revealed!

I also found the mystery aspect of this story (or stories) to be extremely well done. I'm not going to lie, I had some idea about Corinne's disappearance; however, I was shocked by the mystery surrounding Annaleise's disappearance. I think the format of the story (working backwards) helped to muddy the waters surrounding Annaleise, but I honestly thought the culprit could have been a number of the characters.

I do think ALL THE MISSING GIRLS would make a great book club pick. I would love to talk with a group to get their feelings about the novel as well as the way the story was written. I think the characters would be somewhat interesting to dissect, although I'm not sure we got a detailed look at any of them except Nic. There is a reading guide available with fifteen questions along with some suggestions for ways to enhance your meeting. Some of the themes you might want to discuss include family, obligation, love, secrets, regrets, myth, superstition, honesty, deception, morality, and memory.

I found ALL THE MISSING GIRLS to be a treat! Highly recommended for fans of psychological thrillers and mysteries.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

I don't like all the comparisons either. This sounds like a winner.