Book Review: The Perfect Girl

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan

Zoe Maisey is a seventeen-year-old musical prodigy with a genius IQ. Three years ago, she was involved in a tragic incident that left three classmates dead. She served her time, and now her mother, Maria, is resolved to keep that devastating fact tucked far away from their new beginning, hiding the past even from her new husband and demanding Zoe do the same.

Tonight Zoe is giving a recital that Maria has been planning for months. It needs to be the performance of her life. But instead, by the end of the evening, Maria is dead.

In the aftermath, everyone—police, family, Zoe's former solicitor, and Zoe herself—tries to piece together what happened. But as Zoe knows all too well, the truth is rarely straightforward, and the closer we are to someone, the less we may see.

Unfolding over a span of twenty-four hours through three compelling narratives, The Perfect Girl is gripping, surprising, and emotionally complex—a richly layered look at loyalty, second chances, and the way secrets unravel us all.

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Dang. This book was really interesting and really stimulating. I didn't find it to be insanely suspenseful, and I do think the tension could have been amplified more than it was, but it was definitely still suspenseful to me, particularly in certain parts. For me, this was more of a slow-build book, which I do think was the intention behind it. The book starts out by giving you the information that one character dies, and that three years earlier, the main character caused three deaths, but from those intense pieces of opening information follows an intentional withholding of information for a while. The author chooses to slowly give out information, and particularly allows a lot of time between the announcement that Maria dies, and the actual time of her death and the aftermath of the moment. This strategy was pretty effective though, because the entire time I craved more information and was forced to come up with my own conclusions while waiting for more truths to be revealed.

This is definitely intended as a psychological thriller. It places a lot of the suspense-building on the characters and their thoughts and actions. Each subtle bit of dialogue and action has it's purpose within the story and the mystery, so I enjoyed paying attention to each detail and internally wondering if it would be important later on. Some developments were predictable, but others were certainly surprising to me. 

While I enjoyed the characters in the story, and felt they all added something of importance, I did think the character development was a bit lacking. For a character-driven novel, I didn't feel as if I understood the characters' lives, thoughts and actions as much as I could or should. Some of them felt particularly one-dimensional. And Zoe, as a protagonist, didn't do a ton for me. Her personality was limited and I had a hard time believing some of her reactions and actions throughout the tragic and terrifying events of the book. Still, other secondary characters I did actually enjoy more--Tessa, Lucas and Richard were all very interesting to me.

All in all, this was a really fun, entertaining mystery novel with a unique premise. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and though I did have a few complaints, I also loved a lot about it. The setting, air of mystery and writing style (for the most part--too many run-on sentences...) were great. The ending felt like an excellent, not-too-vague, but not-too-telling form of closure, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

This is a very quick read and I recommend it for fans of suspense, thrillers and character-focused novels. Reading this has definitely made me excited to check out the author's other book as well!

I received this book for review froHarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.

Check out the rest of the tour here!

1 comment:

  1. I love how everything works together to keep the reader on this edge of her/her seat, wondering what the heck is going on and what will happen next!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.