Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Book Review: "The Good Girl" by Mary Kubica

Dear publishing world, for the love of all that is holy, can we stop referring to any book with a scintilla of suspense in it as "the next Gone Girl"? Honestly, these books have very little in common (except for one or two unlikeable characters), so the comparison either sets up unfair expectations or might cause those who disliked the original book to pass this one by. And they shouldn't.

Mia Dennett is the headstrong daughter of James, a powerful and ego-driven Chicago judge, and his English wife, Eve, who has been a victim of her husband's domineering nature for so long that she has become utterly malleable. One night Mia's boyfriend cancels their date at the last minute (a frequent occurrence), leaving her alone at the bar where they were to meet. She drinks a little too much, and finds herself flirting with Colin Thatcher, who provides just the right salve for her vulnerability that night.

But when Mia decides to go home with Colin, she gets far more than just a one-night stand. Colin was actually paid to abduct her and deliver her to a notorious criminal, so he could hold her for ransom. However, something convinces Colin not to follow the original plan, and instead he takes Mia to a secluded cabin in Minnesota. The two go into hiding, hoping they can steer clear of law enforcement and those who originally paid Colin to abduct Mia.

At first, their relationship is built on dominance and fear, as Colin must threaten Mia to get her to stay with him. But eventually, Mia realizes there is far more to Colin than meets the eye, that he is vulnerable and emotionally needy, and Colin realizes that Mia isn't the spoiled little rich girl he assumed she was when he was hired to abduct her.

The Good Girl shifts perspective between Colin, Eve, and Gabe Hoffman, the police detective investigating Mia's disappearance, and it shifts from the events leading up to and through her abduction to the aftermath. Gabe is determined to find out what happened to Mia, despite constant resistance from her father, and Eve is wracked with guilt that she wasn't the mother she knew she could be, and is desperate for one more chance.

This is one of those books that makes you suspect everyone isn't what they seem to be. Even though some of the plot points seem to be fairly obvious (at least to me), I definitely wondered how Mary Kubica was going to tie everything up—or even if she was going to. I definitely thought Kubica tried to hard to make James, and to some extent, Eve, fairly unlikeable characters (although in different ways), but I found Mia and Colin's characters tremendously interesting. I almost wish the book could have focused on them the entire time.

I enjoyed this book and found myself pretty hooked, even as I hoped that Kubica wouldn't take the plot in a certain direction. She's a very skilled writer, and this is definitely worth a read if you like suspense/crime novels.

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