It seem like a lot of the mystery novels I’m drawn to these days feature an unreliable narrator (or narrators in the case of The American Girl). Whether this is due to the success of novels like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train has encouraged publishers to jump on the unreliable narrator bandwagon or that it’s just that I’ve become more aware of this particular narrative hook, I’m not sure.
What I do know is that, at this point, it takes a lot to make an unreliable narrator story stand out to me.
Kate Horsley’s The American Girl was able to do that. Well, at least it was able to do that for the first hundred or so pages. Continue reading
As I read Girl Defective, I kept finding myself wanting to love it but instead I found myself only liking it.
Like most teenagers, Skylark Martin is trying to find herself and her place in the world. She’s confused about the status of various relationships, including the one between herself and her record-store running father, the one with her estranged rock-star mother (Sky continually uses the “Ask Me Anything” link on her mother’s web site to ask pointed questions to which she receives little or no acknowledgement), the one with her ten-year-old boy-detective brother and the one with her older friend Nancy, who Sky may or may not have a crush on.
Enter into the world of her record shop, Luke, the older brother of a girl who mysteriously disappeared (the case is one of several that obsess her younger brother) and you’ve got a novel that could be a coming-of-age story. Or it could be the sarcastic observations of that girl who doesn’t exactly fit in and is having some confusing feelings as she grows up. Or it could be a mystery as we try to solve the mystery surrounding not only the missing girl, but also a series of (apparently) random vandalism crimes in the neighborhood.
What it all adds up to is a book that has an intriguing narrator, some fascinating characters and a frustrating lack of focus. There are portions of Simonne Howell’s Girl Defective that I absolutely loved and there were others where I just wanted to skim past them to get back to the more interesting stuff. I feel like there’s a great novel lurking in here, if there had been a bit more focus.
Overall, I liked the book but didn’t love it as much as I’d hoped or expected to based on the first few chapters. I’ve heard good things about Howell’s other books and this one makes me a curious to pick those up and see what else she has to offer.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received an ARC of this book from the Amazon Vine Program in exchange for an honest review.