I finished another book this month, yay me! After two months of only finishing one book, I’ve officially returned to my normal reading ways. This book was a spontaneous choice, it isn’t on any of my reading lists. After finishing my last book, I was in the purgatory of finishing one book before my next book arrived in the mail. The easy answer is to just wait for the next one to arrive. I’m too neurotic for that, so I go out to Walmart on my lunch break and pick this up on a whim. I like a good mystery novel now and then, they are usually quick reads and very suspenseful.
First of all, can we stop comparing every mystery novel to Gone Girl? I absolutely adore Gillian Flynn’s masterpiece and I know it is very well received but I find it lazy to compare every kidnapping mystery to this one story. I have yet to find another story like it, the way she pulls you to believe one thing and then completely blindsides you. It is a trick that is often attempted and rarely successful. The best thing about Gone Girl is that Flynn doesn’t fall victim to labeling her characters good and bad, it is so much more complicated than that.
Kubica does fall victim to this in Good Girl. The characters are so stereotypical that they seem like caricatures. The structure is intriguing but I don’t think Kubica used it to her full advantage. Her writing style is simple but she throws in words that don’t fit her narrative. The twists are predictable and the ending is less than satisfying.
***Warning there will be spoilers below.
The most important thing to me in novels are the characters. The characters have to be unique and realistic to me. The story centers around the kidnapping, search, and return of Mia Dennett. The story is not told by Mia (until a small epilogue), instead the story switches perspective between Eve (Mia’s mother), Gabe (the detective searching for Mia), and Colin (the man who took Mia).
There is nothing descriptive or unique about Mia. She is nice, beautiful, a teacher for troubled kids, and an artist. She isn’t close with her family, they are rich and selfish. Her mother admitted that she was rebellious as a child. This rebellion is just stereotypical teenage stuff, sneaking out, skipping school etc. There is nothing that makes Mia real to me.
In the beginning of the novel, Eve is not concerned when Mia goes missing. She is unfazed and annoyed. She quickly falls into the concerned mother who can’t sleep and blames herself. By the end she has left her good for nothing husband and has a love connection with the cop and has morphed into the perfect mother. I personally liked her better as the unfazed and annoyed woman. She makes me feel like I’m watching a lifetime movie.
Gabe is portrayed exactly like any cop you’d see on a network crime drama. He’s wise, hardened but has a hear of gold. Yep, I’m about to barf. Gabe goes from being annoyed (there is a lot of annoyed characters) to actually have to work the case to determined to bring Mia back because he falls in love with Eve. He has as much personality as a pile of rocks.
If Gabe is the sterorypical cop, Colin is the sterorypical criminal. He had it rough growing up and turned to crime when he had no other choice. He is supposed to deliver Mia to a hardcore criminal but he falls for Mia and just wants to run away with her.
Judge Dennett is Mia’s father, and he plays an important role in the plot but he is not given a lot of page time. He cares about status and money and doesn’t seem to care at all about Mia. He is sure she’s run away. He turns out to be crooked and to have known she was kidnapped for a ransom demand (the original plan). But it doesn’t add up and for being such an important character, we barely see him. We just know he’s bad.
I liked the idea of alternating first person narratives to tell the story. This was very effective in Gone Girl. There are also time jumps, I think this works well to help the reader piece it all together. But Kubica routinely gives information during a first person narrative that would only be present in third person. It is distracting and cuts out the effectiveness of the style she chose. She also has a an effective simple writing style but then she will throw in a word here and there that doesn’t fit.
The underlying twist of the story has to do with Mia. You know this early on. You know this from the title and the cover art. And the twist is easy to pick up, she is involved in her own kidnapping. She hates her dad so much that she sets him up, she finds proof of bribery and misconduct and wants the world to know. So she sets up her kidnapping with a known criminal, who in turn hires Colin. She doesn’t know who Colin is. When he kidnaps her he decides he can’t hand her over to someone who will kill her (he doesn’t know she’s in on it). So he doesn’t hand her over and drives her to Minnesota and keeps her in a cabin.
It doesn’t make sense. Mia never tells him that it’s a set up and he can give her to the other man. Colin literally has no plan taking her to a cabin. He did this to get money that he doesn’t receive. They starve and almost freeze to death, for what? The first half of the novel he claims he could care less about her. But then he decides he loves her. But he never lets her go. She claims to love him (Stockholm syndrome mic?). The big plan is to flee to Canada on fake passports and start over, together. Which doesn’t accomplish either of their goals.
In the end Colin gets shot in a police standoff and Mia is returned home. She finds out she’s pregnant and has amnesia for awhile. She blames herself that Colin is dead and wants to die. But magically she’s ok because she has a baby and miraculously a mom who now cares about her.
The story is just confusing and there really isn’t any originality. It feels like a mediocre lifetime movie, at best.