Sunday, August 9, 2015

"The Good Girl": A 'Gone Girl'-esque Thriller Worth the Ride"

After I picked my jaw up off the floor when I finished "The Good Girl" by Mary Kubica, I realized that I was going to miss the characters.

It's a thriller which isn't always my favorite genre, and it's also about the abduction of a young woman and the events that lead up to the abduction as well as the events that come after the abduction similar to the very popular "Gone Girl." Just like "Gone Girl," it's plot driven with many surprising twists and turns.  There are psychological realizations as the story unfolds, and clues that lead the reader to believe one thing, when often the opposite occurs.

The difference between this and many of the other thrillers like the wildly popular "Gone Girl" and  "The Girl on the Train" is that I actually found myself caring about each of the characters in this book.  With the all the cray cray characters in other thrillers, I end up not really caring what happens to them, and often race to the end just to finish instead of savoring the journey of the thrill ride. Kubica sets up a story worth caring about with family dysfunction, a surprising love story, and deeply flawed but likable and relatable people at the center of the plot.

The story revolves around Mia, the youngest daughter of a high profile Chicago Judge who is abducted by Colin Thatcher. Colin has disdain for this woman of privilege even though he takes pity on her. Although she comes from a wealthy family, Mia, unlike her older sister, is not a daddy's girl and more often reveals herself as a huge disappointment to her father so much so that she is barely scraping by as an art teacher.  The reader gets her mother Eve's perspective, the abductor's perspective, and Gabe's perspective (the detective who tirelessly searches for Mia).  It is only at the very end of the book that we hear from Mia, and it's a twist that I wasn't expecting (hence having to pick my jaw up off the floor when I finished the novel).

So much happens in the span of the book as the characters reveal themselves.  While they spend days and months together in a secluded cabin in Grand Marais, they begin to disclose the stories of their lives. We learn about Colin's troubled past and his touching relationship with his mom.  He's a criminal, but I actually cared about him based his backstory and his actions with Mia. And as Mia opens up, we see her as "the good girl" - the quiet forgotten daughter, who didn't become a lawyer or fascinate her father.  She liked to have tea in secret with her mother and she would stay hidden during hide and seek sometimes for hours until someone found her.

Even Eve, whose weak nature allowed her husband to stomp on Mia's spirit, redeemed herself during the span of the novel.  Through her recollections of the past and the realizations after her daughter's abduction, she woke up to the abuse that both she and her daughter suffered under the judge's tyranny.

The brilliance for me in this novel is that Kubica chose to structure it with not only alternating narrator perspectives, but also with alternating time perspectives.  We learn clues to what happened to Mia by knowing what comes after the abduction, but it's in the before chapters that the tension mounts.  So smart.

There isn't much that I didn't like about Kubica's debut novel, and I am already looking forward to reading her 2nd book, "Pretty Baby" which was just released on July 28th, 2015 and has already received great reviews.

If you want a thriller that won't make you wish ill on the characters or think that the characters are getting exactly what they deserved, Mary Kubica's "The Good Girl" is the perfect book to take with you on your last breath of summer beach trips - or maybe even take it with you to your secluded cabin up north which as Kubica knows is the perfect place to hide away from the world.

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