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Monday, 14 September 2015

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter - Book Review

5/5 Stars

A missing girl.

A hope never lost.

A killer never found...

24959571

Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 533
Chapters: 24 (Plus seven parts weaved throughout from a different character viewpoint.)
Publisher: Century

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Amazon
                      Author's Website

Review

I've had a bunch of Karin Slaughter books resting on my shelves for years, and after reading Pretty Girls, her new standalone, I am thoroughly kicking myself! Why did I wait so bloody long?

Karin Slaughter is a thriller legend!

Pretty Girls is psychological, it's terrifying, it's an intricate web of depravity that has you trapped in its silky threads. Mixed in with all the evil is a heartbreaking tale of a family torn asunder, whose fractured relationship is forced together as events teach them that they're all they've got. The glimmers of warmth, the heartwarming elements are few and far between, but they manage to be bright enough to balance the horrifying darkness.

Pick this book up if you've got a strong stomach and voracious love of black, psychological thrillers.

SPOILER WARNING

Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)

When Claire Scott and Lydia Delgado were young, their sister, Julia, vanished.
There was no trace.
No rhyme, nor reason.
Julia's existence just ended.
After twenty years, and a family splintered, Claire and Lydia are thrown together.
Julia's disappearance might not have been isolated, and as more young women go missing, the two wayward sisters stumble upon a conspiracy of the highest order.
A conspiracy that could swallow them whole...

Plot - 5/5 Stars

Slaughter delivers a sledgehammer of a story. Each page is a testament to the mastery of her writing. With a tantalising story, Pretty Girls weaves a twisted journey out of the different viewpoints of a broken family. The way the plot unfolds is spellbinding, with smart reasoning and hooking revelations. Everything collides; everything explodes.

There's a great balance between mystery and family drama. Both could easily stand as their own book, offering different elements that merge together perfectly. 

And the twists! There are only a handful of big ones, with Slaughter letting the reader awaken their inner novice detective to sort out the details she gives, but they're spot on. They hit the mark with an audible BANG as your mind explodes.

The end comes as a satisfying conclusion to the emotionally exhausting traipse through the dark underbelly of human society.

Pace - 5/5 Stars

Pretty Girls is long, and its flow isn't rocket-fast, but that, in this case, isn't a negative (and you know I love my fast-paced thrillers). The slow-burning plot, the unputdownable family cast, the fantastic writing, all of it is confident and high quality. There's a steadiness that demands you let each page sink in, to let each reveal and punch to the gut fester in your mind.

The pace is the work of a veteran author.

Characters - 5/5 Stars

Slaughter approaches her characters in this novel with unnerving realism. The complexities travel to depths that some will more than likely find disturbing. I did, and I guiltily couldn't stop analysing them. Initially, they're not a cast you're asked to like. You don't root for them, and you'll soon wonder if you're ever really going to connect to them.

That's the fascinating thing about the people that populate Pretty Girls, the duplicitous aspects of a person. What you see on the surface, or glean from their actions, is only a tiny, insignificant part of what you get underneath. As the cast unravels, you can't help but sympathise, and you come to the stark realisation that these accurate people are dealing with real-world issues.

Take Claire Scott for example. Claire is very passive; she reacts, she doesn't plan. She's perfected compartmentalising to the point that you can't tell if she's really feeling anything. It gives her the advantage of people wanting to look after her, but it means she misses things right in front of her eyes. Her development, or waking up, is emotional. Everything she's bottled-up hits her hard, but she manages to finally see what she's missed. She goes from being a blind observer to someone with keen insights who can handle herself.

Her sister, Lydia, starts off as the complete opposite. She experiences things to their fullest extent, and accepted those things through the use of drugs and reckless behaviour. Despite her harder fall from grace after her oldest sister's - Claire is her baby sister - disappearance, she picks herself up and fights for a life with a good partner and a wonderful daughter. She's rational and thinks forward. 

The highlight of the entire novel is the sisters' relationship reforming after they've been vacant from each other's lives for so long.

The enemy of the story - or should I say the worst kind of evil on the planet - is unsettling. Paul exudes a terrifying persona that Slaughter capitalises with a morbid fascination. He's deceptively nice, kind, even though he's a master manipulator who loves nothing more than feeding off of other people's pain and suffering. His intelligence and calm demeanour, even in the face of death, has your skin crawling.

Writing - 5/5 Stars

Beautiful, in the darkest and grittiest possible way. Slaughter captures the essence of each scene she writes, and throws it at the reader with a ferocious intensity. 

Like I said, a veteran author I'll definitely be reading more of.

Overall - 5/5 Stars

Pretty Girls is a story that deals with the horrifying acts of kidnap, rape, and murder. It's an emotionally heavy work of fiction that you should be wary about before undertaking its journey.

But if you do, you're in for an adventure of the darkest kind...


For more Karin Slaughter reviews: Index


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