Review: The Girls

Book Title: The Girls

Book Author: Emma Cline

Book Rating: ☆☆ (2 out of 5 stars)

Published: June 14, 2016

Synopsis: Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

Emma Cline’s remarkable debut novel is gorgeously written and spellbinding, with razor-sharp precision and startling psychological insight. The Girls is a brilliant work of fiction—and an indelible portrait of girls, and of the women they become.”

I feel like there must be something wrong with me. I keep hearing such wonderful things about this debut novel, and I was completely underwhelmed. The Girls is filled with prose that just screams “I am Literary!!! Look at all of these pretty words!” And while I love descriptive writing that draws you into a story, there is such thing as overkill. I am also a little irritated by the comparisons of this novel to The Virgin Suicides. I love The Virgin Suicides and can see the parallels about growing up in a world that is not always kind to teenage girls, but The Girls is just not as engaging and not nearly as well-written.

The story begins with an aging woman named Evie, who we quickly learn was part of a cult during her early teenage years. I think the author intends for readers to be shocked by this fact that this unremarkable woman has such a sordid past. After the first chapter, the book flashes back to the year 1969, and describes how Evie went from being a typical 14 year old girl to a member of one of the most infamous cults in history. Unfortunately, the story just seemed to drag on and on. Of course we need background on our character to understand why she would be interested in joining a cult, but it was just too much. Too much mundane description and not enough plot.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley.

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3 thoughts on “Review: The Girls

  1. Hi Rachael, I was really underwhelmed by The Girls too. The writing was fine but I wasn’t at all engaged with the story. I read it to the end because everyone was talking about it this summer, but I just couldn’t muster any excitement. Did you find that parts of it (particularly Evie as an adult) was unnecessary? Great review by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

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