The Girl Before
*This review is based on an advanced reading copy. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a chance to read the book in exchange for an honest review*
I am so torn! I desperately wanted to give this a better rating, because I sincerely enjoyed the first 75% of the book and plowed through it. It really kept me guessing and had such an eerie atmosphere that I loved. But, sadly, towards the end it just lost its hold on me.
This book is written through two characters and times (surprise): Then/Emma & Now/Jane. The characters have quite a few things in common, but the one similarity worth mentioning now is that they move in to the same house: One Folgate Street in London. This is no ordinary place to live. Although the price is lower than expected to live here, it comes with conditions. The architect requires any prospective tenants to fill out an extensive application including pages of questions, a request for 3 pictures of the person(s), and if they pass those steps they will be asked to an interview. Oh, and there's a list of rules you must follow.
Jane finds out that Emma died in the house and is convinced that it was a murder, but the case went cold years ago. So, what happened?
I can't explain how excited I was in the beginning it just seemed like such a great setup for some crazy plot twist I wasn't expecting, which in a way is still true. It just wasn't the type of twist I wanted.
I feel like after reading Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, every other psychological thriller is either compared to them, or strives to be them and this had the potential to be added to the list, but in the end it felt almost like an imposter. One of the characters isn't who they're pretending to be, but I ended up confused. In Gone Girl, when there's the big reveal of one of the characters actually being crazy and setting up a master plot to make themselves look innocent, you can clearly see the two different personalities (the acted personality and the real person). In this, it just leaves you more confused. There's no motive for anything that the character does. They aren't evil, they clearly have something mentally wrong with them but it's not something that you can define. Maybe it's just the psych student in me that wants to see a clear personality disorder revealed. Even the cause of Emma's death isn't as great as what I thought it would be. Did I guess correctly? No. The plot twist was successful, but it still left a bad taste in my mouth. I feel like maybe there were just too many twists and turns. If there was just Emma's death or just the character change, I would've been okay with it but it felt like the author tried too hard with the plot twists. I would rather compare the book to Dark Places in the sense that I loved the beginning and was let down when the ending was a little too disappointingly unexpected. Not an 'OH MY GOSH I NEVER SAW THAT COMING THAT'S AWESOME' but more an 'Oh, okay'.
Either way, the beginning to me was worth the read because it was spooky.