In case you haven’t noticed, the world is awash with Gillian Flynns i.e., Gillian Flynn wannabes. Further down the food chain you’ll find the same phenomenon – writers who think they’ve found a different shade of grey but, sad to say, they haven’t. Sadder still, more than a few get reeled in by commercial publishers and are not thrown back.
But there’s some good news, too. The success of GONE GIRL (which I read and enjoyed long before the hype) has also inspired a few writers with original voices to persevere and tell their tales.
A case in point is Jessica Knoll. Her edgy voice is a mix of cleverly demonic observation, acidic wit, and relentless intensity. Even if her novel, LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE (Simon & Schuster) had no plot, I’d stop reading only at gunpoint.
You can dip inside the book’s 300+ pages and find lines with a life of their own.
Here’s an example:
“I spotted her right away when I stepped off the elevator—slouchy leather pants (if fake, good ones) perfectly balanced with a crisp white button-down and sharp silver heels, a Chanel purse dangling from her forearm. If not for her round beer face, I might have turned right around and pretended I didn’t see her. I don’t do well with competition.”
Knoll didn’t need to open the novel with a hook like “I inspected the knife in my hand.” She could just as easily have begun with the next two sentences:
“That’s the Shun. Feel how light it is compared to the Wüsthof?”
So right from the git-go (notice I didn’t say “gone-go”) you know there’s wicked stuff ahead. And something wicked is what I reach for on muggy summer nights.
No plot summary here, I don’t want to spoil the fun. It is not a book of constant twists. There are definite shades of the film “Heathers” here, and Knoll nails the voice and glib cruelty of teens. I urge you to avoid reading jacket flaps, descriptions on Amazon, online reviews, and all those blurbs that drop Gillian Flynn’s name.
This novel walks on its own.
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