Emma Cline’s “The Girls” – A Review.

the-girls-emma-clineStory   ★★★
Writing ★★★
Cover   
Mystery 

PROS: Well structured
      Emotional
 
CONS: A little slow beginning
      No strong characters
      No real plot twists

You have probably seen Emma Cline’s book all over the internet by now. It seemed at one point to be THE book you ought to read, if you were only going to read one book (after all it made it to the NY Times Bestsellers list!).

I really had high hopes for this book. And maybe that’s the problem. I am not sure it if was all the hype constructed around the book, or if it was my hope to read the next “Gone Girl” with an even bigger story twist. Instead… well. It was all but that.

The Girls is Emma Cline’s debut novel and it tells the story of Evie Boyd, a young privileged teenager, who finds herself drawn by a group of girls living in some sort of made-up boho camp ( really a run down ranch), and following an older man as their leader. It is very clear whose story Emma Cline is trying to tell: the infamous Manson clan. The story doesn’t get any more original from that point, instead, we are offered to relive the horrors of the past but it a very slow fashion. Where one would hope to see strong female characters and their take of what it must have been like to be part of a cult like Manson’s was, we are instead offered a pretty pale version. Evie is another stereotyped rich girl who finds herself sucked into something bigger than she had bargained for. We are supposed to feel bad for her, but instead I fell very annoyed by her character and disappointed by all the other female characters in  this book.

As you can imagine by now, I didn’t think much of this debut novel. Yes, it was well structured and well told, but the magic and the surprise elements were just lacking. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong inspiring ourselves from history (what would be do without a good historical fiction anyway?), but there must be something more compelling than just regurgitating facts and changing names. There must be an element of surprise for the reader, and the characters have to be compelling enough to lead us til the end. However, in my humble opinion, The Girls missed the mark.

I give the book a solid 3 stars, and that is mostly due to the fact that despite Emma Cline missing the ‘Thrill’-bandwagon, she was pretty good at describing scenes and translating how Evie felt and why she was drawn to the leader of the cult. We get it – she is lonely, feeling unloved, and desperate for attention. Emma Cline made me understand Evie’s struggle, and why Suzanne seemed so appealing to her. But like I said, besides that, there was nothing else to the story, and that is very sad.

I think Emma Cline has potential to write a good novel, and I hope that someday I will come across a much enticing novel that will really make me rate it 5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley, and Random House for an ARC of  The Girls by Emma Cline, in exchange for an honest review.


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FOLLOW SARA AHMED: Website
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 Language: English
 Genre: Fiction, Coming of Age, Thriller
 ISBN-10:  0735208182
 Published: June 14, 2016
 Publisher: Random House Large Print
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Book Review |Victoria Crossing by Michael Wallace

Author

Story    ★★★

Writing ★★

Cover   ★★

Humor

 

PROS

Entertaining

Well written

Endearing

Feminist

CONS

 

 

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victoriacrossing_michaelwallace

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Language: English

Genres:

Literary Fiction

Historical Fiction

Women’s Fiction

          

ISBN-10: 1503934136

Published: May 17,2016

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

 

This was a well-written book, with a plot that sucks you in as soon as you open the first pages. The novel is set in 1851 after the Potato Famine that struck Ireland, forcing Maeve and Victoria to flee to New York in order to survive. It is on the same ship that the two young women bond, and due to circumstances (Maeve’s brother fails to meet her at the port of arrival, and Victoria gets her money stolen by a crook), they decide to join forces to improve their circumstances.

Throughout the book, we get a glimpse at the danger the young women face in the industrial Manhattan, with crooks luring around. We also understand that there is a past unknown of Maeve regarding hers and Victoria friendship. When Maeve’s brother finally comes into the picture, and the chips start to fall where they belong, Maeve’s and Victoria’s friendship is tested.

I loved that Mr. Wallace has led us in connecting with each character, understanding where everyone came from. This is not just a tale of friendship and loyalty, but also a tale of love. It is also a tale of being an immigrant. Being one myself, I could particularly relate to the hardships one faces trying to make a home away from home. More importantly, I loved that the story praises the strength of women and their loyalty, instead of tearing them down as most novels tend to do with pity women jealousies. Although not political in itself, Victoria Crossing is a great reminder of the power women hold, as well as a reminder of  what one can do when surrounded by great friends.

Victoria Crossing was full of excitement, intrigue, and suspense from the beginning until the end. And what an end it was! I could hardly believe how the story turned out, expecting a very typical High Victorian period novel ending only to be pleasantly surprised.  All in all, Michael Wallace is a great storyteller and I leave it to you to find out.

Thank you to Michael Wallace, Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for giving me a free e-ARC of this book to read and the opportunity to give my honest review.

Book Review |The Longest Night by Andria Williams

Book Review: The Longest Night by Andria WilliamsDisclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Please refer to the Disclaimer page for more information.

 

Author

Story    ★★

Writing

Cover  

Mystery

 

PROS

Captivating

Filled with tension

Well contructed scenes and characters

CONS

Tedious read

Long to climax

 

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FOLLOW ANDRIA WILLIAMS

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MORE INFO

Language: English

Genres:

Women’s Fiction

Historical Fiction

Literary Fiction

Contemporary Women

Fiction

          

ISBN-10: 0812997743

Published: January 12, 2016

Publisher: Random House

DISCLAIMER

The Longest Night, debut novel of Andria Williams, was kindly provided for an honest review by NetGalley and its publisher Random House. Read the full disclaimer here.

In 1959, Nat Collier moves with her husband, Paul, and their two young daughters to Idaho Falls, a remote military town. An Army Specialist, Paul is stationed there to help oversee one of the country’s first nuclear reactors—an assignment that seems full of opportunity.

Then, on his rounds, Paul discovers that the reactor is compromised, placing his family and the entire community in danger. Worse, his superiors set out to cover up the problem rather than fix it. Paul can’t bring himself to tell Nat the truth, but his lies only widen a growing gulf between them.

Lonely and restless, Nat is having trouble adjusting to their new life. She struggles to fit into her role as a housewife and longs for a real friend. When she meets a rancher, Esrom, she finds herself drawn to him, comforted by his kindness and company. But as rumors spread, the secrets between Nat and Paul build and threaten to reach a breaking point.

 

Andria Williams’ debut novel is charged with tension from the very first page until the last. The Longest Night, mainly set in Idaho Falls in 1960s, tells the story from the point of view of both Nat and Paul as they navigate through their married life. Paul is in the military, and his current assignment is to work at the site of a nuclear reactor. Nat, originally from San Diego and a free spirit at heart, has to readjust to a new life in the small town, all the while not quite fitting into the expected military wife role. In the background we also dive into other character’s lives, such as the Sergeant Richards and his wife Jeannine, Esrom among other third type characters. The tension comes from everywhere, and Williams does a fantastic job at holding it all together without giving in, and letting the reader guess the end. The eminent explosion of the reactor Paul is sent to work on is constantly looming over the character’s lives, making the reader wonder if there will be a good end to all of this. Throughout the novel, there is a strong sense of time and place, which gives a real dimension to the story.

However, so much tension can also be exhausting. The novel is not always easy to read, with passages that stretch for long periods. In fact, the novel doesn’t really start to pick up until about 60% into the book. For those  used to get to the climax of the story much sooner, this novel can prove to be challenging to read. The characters always seem to linger in certain situations, leaving the reader wondering whether or not some action will soon come along. I for one thought numerous times that the novel should have been renamed to “The Longest Story”, as it never seemed to want to end. Only my determination to get to the bottom of this story helped me get through the long beginning. That, and the fact that one has no clue as to the direction of the book, makes it quite a challenging read. However, the moment Paul is sent away from his family the story picks up pace, with more tension but also with more thrill filled in each page. The pages then just rolled under my fingers, my eyes hungry for more.

Ultimately, The Longest Night is a powerful debut novel, beautifully written and constantly moving forward – even if with some urgency. Even though I still think the beginning was too long, I must admit it was necessary to get the reader to the climax of the story, and to shape the whole “aha!” moment, when all is revealed, and the tensions are broken. Andria Williams crafted a well laid out novel, which doesn’t waste time on unnecessary scenes or unnecessary words. If one can bear long narratives, this is a novel to give a chance to. I promise, it will stir something within you.