“He had been so very, very cunning, hiding all of his transgressions in plain sight. The only question now was how many more transgressions was she going to find?”
So, I just spent the last 2 days reading this awesome book. It went waaaaaay the freaking hell outside of my “usual” reading preferences. The genre is more of a crime thriller (no romance) which I almost never read but this particular blurb really grabbed me. So I opened the book. By the end of the prologue, I had CHILLS running through me and tears in my eyes…. So, I had to read it!!! And honestly I loved it!!
But you guys, it is NOT for the faint of heart. The story starts out small but the “mystery” just gets deeper and deeper and deeper. And every new thing you discover is this whole other level of creepy.
Please note that there is graphic violence in this book (not a lot in terms of content, but what there is will make anyone shudder and cringe. However, if you’re used to watching TV shows like Criminal Minds or CSI, you’ll probably be ok to read this (it’s kind of on the same level that they have). But it’s still very seriously G.R.A.P.H.I.C. and genuinely disturbing at times. Please be warned.
This is also a book with absolutely no fluff. You can’t skim anything because you’ll miss crucial elements or reveals. It’s intricate and layered. This author clearly spent a great deal of time plotting out her story before writing it because everything happens for a reason, every piece of the story has a purpose, and by the end, they all fit together. One reason I’m always wary of thrillers is I rarely find them satisfying but this book gave every single answer to every single question. I’m a fast reader and will usually breeze through full-length book in an afternoon but it took me 2 days to read this (3 technically since I read the first 10% one night, and the rest over 2 days) because there was just so MUCH going on in it…
First, I’m going to share the blurb with you (because it was the blurb that made me want to read it):
Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.
More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.
The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.
Powerful, poignant, and utterly gripping, packed with indelible characters and unforgettable twists, Pretty Girls is a masterful novel from one of the finest writers working today.
And next, I’m going to actually show you guys all my status updates now (NO SPOILERS) so you can sort of see what I went through while reading it… (haha, sorry, I can get a bit sweary sometimes)
- 2% — What an amazing prologue!!! I have chills, shivers, tears. Totally hooked!
- 3% — So INTO this story!!!!
- 5% — Ok I’m seriously freaking out. Can I handle this?? I’m a romance reader, dammit. I need my swoon (even my dark reads have swoon!!!) and this is freaking me the fuck out!!!!! *keeps reading*
- 6% — FUCK. dammit. holy crap. Am I strong enough to read this?! Let’s find out *eyes book warily*
- 7% — SMART SMART SMART BRILLIANT FUCKING WRITING!!!
- 8% — okayyyyyy, did NOT see that reaction coming. That must be one helluva history they’ve got there for THAT to be her reaction. O.O
- 10% — chills and shivers again. How amazing is this writing?? I hate that I have to go to bed now because I want to keep reading!!
- 11% — back to reading today. I’ve seriously been more surprised, shocked, impressed, intrigued, in the first 10% of this book than I have been by most complete books!
- 16% — Woah. Wait, she did WHAT now??
- 16% — Holy freaking fuckkkkkkk *GAAAASP* Well that just about calls EVERYTHING into question.
- 19% — I love the attention to detail. Like how the sister of a girl who’d been abducted would then take natural precautions in her life — like teach her child how to change a tire so she’d never be stuck on the side of the road, or always scan the parking lot before unlocking the car doors. Smart!
- 24% — my brain is overloaded with theories right now. SO MANY possibilities!
- 26% — red pill/blue pill <– love that reference
- 29%— such an interesting line.
“He isolated her.”
“Sounds like a classic abuser.”
“As far as I know, he never hit her or even raised his voice at her. He just kept her.”
- 32% — Ahhhhh, love this!!! “He had been so very, very cunning, hiding all of his transgressions in plain sight. The only question now was how many more transgressions was she going to find?”
- 34% — holyyyyyyy shit. no WAY!!
- 36% — yeah, I’m with Lydia on this sentiment: “What the fuck, Claire?” She stared at Claire with open shock. “What the fucking fuck?”
- 37% — hehe that was badass. “I’ve never told anyone this… but it felt so fucking good to be bad.”
- 39% — ****spoiler removed**** I really wish I could share that line with you. SO GOOD!
- 44% — this just gets more and more complex …. like woah!
- 47% — Ok, I actually have a secondary theory which explains 95% of everything. But that other 5% is still weirding me the fuck out!!! (note: I was wrong about this theory, guess that darn 5% mattered)
- 53% — “I can’t just walk away from this. I have to know. There isn’t anything left in my life except finding out the truth.” <— my sentiments exactly! *keeps reading*
- 55% — holy. freaking. HELL. ****** GASP *******
Okay. WARNING: this book is graphically violent. It’s very similar in to Criminal Minds or CSI in terms of the level if you want a comparison point.
- 57% — NO. WAYYYYYYYYY. How????
- 67% — definitely not for the faint of heart. Fair warning, I literally just cringed away from the page…. and also OMG!!!!!!!!! O_O
- 68% — this story goes to show that you really don’t need a paranormal story to show true evil. Sometimes, humans can make the very worst monsters of all.
- 69% — Okay I’ve been reading this for the last 3 hours straight and I have to go to bed. This is definitely a book you have to FOCUS on. There’s no skimming or light reading or you’ll miss important facts. Its 421 pages and there is NO FLUFF.
- 70% — back to it (next day). This book is like one holy shit moment after another. And each pause between them only serves to build to the next jaw dropping reveal.
- 73% — “You haven’t talked to each other in twenty years and now you’re suddenly worried about her daughter?” — “Lydia is my sister. Even when I hated her, I still loved her.”
- 75% — ok seriously. This is pretty gruesome. If you’re sensitive to graphic violence, this book is not for you. Please be warned.
- 79% — holy exposition batman. I feel like I’ve just have this flood of information streaming into my head for the last few percents. It almost feels like this book will never end. I don’t mean that in a bad way but there’s just so much going on.
- 85% — Omg. I love her mom!!!!!!! That was pretty badass!
- 88% — Graphic, gruesome, disturbing, gory violence. Like seriously. stomach-turning.
- 97% — Just WOAH. That was an INTENSE last few percents. I feel like I’ve been holding my breath and just flipping pages like mad. And that scene though….. Karma is a bitch!
- 100% — Wow that last line. Wow! How strangely beautiful for such a chilling story as this. Definitely a beautiful way to end things. Loved the book!
Ok so without giving anything away, I’ll just tell you guys that there is a very satisfying ending. Note again that this is not a romance (at all) but everything is wrapped up in the ending and actually the last line was absolutely perfect. Seriously, just really STRONG writing!
Nothing about this book is ‘expected’. Even the nature of the crime itself is one that I honestly hadn’t ever seen before (at least not this extreme) on any crime-fighting TV show. *shudders* The story keeps you on your toes, catching you off guard with it’s surprises over and over again. There’s never a dull moment.
The story is told in third person from three main perspectives. Claire and Lydia’s (the two estranged sisters of the abducted girl from the 90’s) perspectives that begin separately but entwine later on, and their father’s — though his was through forms of journal entries written addressed to his missing daughter. I found it fascinating the way it showed how much perspective mattered. One person could see someone as a monster, and to another person, they could be a savior. It was chilling.
Karin Slaughter truly has some of the strongest writing I’ve read. Like seriously. It doesn’t matter if you end up loving or hating the story, it doesn’t change the fact that the writing itself is top notch. The reason I rare read other genres is that they’re rarely able to hold my attention — I crave the emotional connection in romances — so it’s a real testament to how good this writing was that I was that into this story.
So, at this point I’m still a little in shock from this story, but I absolutely don’t regret reading it and even though it was totally completely utterly different than my usual beloved romance reads, I loved this too (even though I’m honestly a little creeped out still, lol). It was a really fantastic “change of pace” read for me. Y’know? Sometimes you just need one of those. I like stepping outside my comfort zones every now and again to try something different. I find it kind of refreshes me for when I step back into my romance reads. Haha, buuuuuuuut I’m gonna need something light, sexy, and fun next!!!
Really though. If you’re into thrillers, definitely try this book. If you’re not into thrillers but still curious, I’d recommend this as a great one to try because it’s genuinely good. As I’m writing this, it was released last week and it actually hit #4 on the New York Times Best Sellers list this week. And yes, I know it’s really expensive, which is why I never posted any updates while I was reading. I wanted to be sure I’d finished it and could actually stand by suggesting it before I began posting about it. But yes, it’s definitely a great book and one I’d easily recommend for someone looking for a really solid read within this genre!
Rating: ahhh I have no idea how to put these thoughts to a rating. I’m disturbed by the some of the content of the story but I loved the book and loved the writing. Can you guys just accept “really freaking great thriller” to be my rating, please?
Standalone crime thriller (not a romance). Graphic violence warning.
PS: if you want an idea of how much I liked the book, I bought it in BOTH Kindle and hardcover.