by Emma Cline
If you’re lost, they’ll find you…
Evie Boyd is fourteen and desperate to be noticed.
It’s the summer of 1969 and restless, empty days stretch ahead of her. Until she sees them. The girls. Hair long and uncombed, jewelry catching the sun. And at their centre, Suzanne, black-haired and beautiful.
If not for Suzanne, she might not have gone. But, intoxicated by her and the life she promises, Evie follows the girls back to the decaying ranch where they live.
Was there a warning? A sign of what was coming? Or did Evie know already that there was no way back?
‘A coming-of-age tale like no other … the book of the summer’ Grazia
Yes, another book called ‘The Girls’! That makes three books with the same name I’ve read in the past two years (one of which I have reviewed: The Girls). I picked this one up because everyone is reading it right now, just look around you, and it’s made all sorts of lists and even the cover claims it’s a bestseller.
So when I didn’t instantly connect with this book, I thought the good stuff was still to come, but having now finished and read a few reviews, I can see I’m not alone in my confusion as to where all the hype has come from! I just couldn’t connect with the story, I didn’t care about these girls one bit.
The story is set in two years, the summer of 1969 and a reflective present day. We learn that something bad has happened to our leading lady Evie, she has secrets that the world only knows a little about.
Drawn into a cult, we know quite early on that it doesn’t end well for Evie and her new friends. Initially I felt for Evie – unloved by those around her, she feels lonely and desperate for attention. When one day Suzanne invites her onto the group’s modified bus, she finally feels a part of something.
Parts of this book are well written, others overwritten and at points underwritten. It’s a real mismatch. At times it felt as though author Emma Cline used the Microsoft thesaurus like I did as a school child, I mean, who really uses the word ‘cadge’? Odd word choices and paragraphs that ended in strange places, the story didn’t flow well.
I found the narrative to lack true depth and there was no real exploration of the characters who just became names on the page. I would have loved to have a more detailed view of Russell, an explanation of how his cult came to be, the personality that the girls can’t say no to. But as a cult insider, Evie is not a fantastic reporter, she is young and naive, she doesn’t know much about anyone, she doesn’t get all that involved and she isn’t even present when the all important crime happens.
The criminal ending the whole book leads up to was a disappointment. There was a fantastic opportunity to turn this into a page turning crime/thriller towards the end, but the short choppy paragraphs gave us only a vague idea of events which could have been so much more. I found myself rolling my eyes towards the end and closed the book feeling let down.
Overall rating: This must be a book which divides people. A worldwide bestseller which I can see is loved by many but I just didn’t get it, feeling let down by vague characters and a poor ending. I don’t see the appeal of “The Girls” and will be scoring this one 2 stars.